Local BC Backyard Ultra organizers are backing out of Salmon Arm, with plans to host this year’s cross-country running event in Sicamous.
The moving of the April event, from Little Mountain Park in Salmon Arm to Sicamous’ Beach Park, was announced via social media on Monday, Feb. 12.
Organizers said the transition to Sicamous allows increased runner support through: chip timing and live results; provision of a route with less than a 20-metre elevation gain/loss; inclusion of a route that is 70 per cent non-technical trail and 30 per cent pavement; heated washroom facilities; ample parking and grassy area for tents; ample lighting; a playground, beach and more
“While we move forward in planning with the District of Sicamous we want to acknowledge the City of Salmon Arm, Salmon Arm Economic Development Society, Salmon Arm Visitor Centre and Downtown Salmon Arm for their commitment to community,” reads a Facebook post shared by Lewiston Ultra Events. “We are beyond grateful for their friendship & support.”
At the Nov. 14 Salmon Arm council meeting, concerns were raised around the running event falling on the opening weekend for Shuswap Youth Soccer Association’s (SYSA) community program.
“Allowing the BC Backyard Ultra to use Little Mountain at this time puts unnecessary pressure on staff and volunteers, as well as being an inconvenience to hundreds of people trying to find parking or having to adjust their plan to get their children all over the city for their first soccer Saturday of the year,” said SYSA’s Chad Forman in a letter to council.
Council also received an email from a resident who did not want to see the Backyard Ultra return to their backyard at Little Mountain. They said the organizers’ music/microphone system set up in the parking lot was “really loud and aggravating for almost two days.” They also commented on the race interrupting soccer on Saturday.
The above communications accompanied one from local BC Backyard Ultra organizer Kara Leinweber asking to use Little Mountain for the event that would start at 8 a.m. on Friday, April 6, and could last as long as 72 hours.
“The event will give back to the community, Shuswap Trail Alliance and support tourism in the shoulder season,” wrote Leinweber. “The event would host 80-100 runners and would be staged (start/finish) at Little Mountain Park and the Field House parking lot. We would ensure parking spaces are available for public users and Little Mountain Park would remain open to the public during the event.”
Mayor Alan Harrison was optimistic Little Mountain could accommodate both youth soccer and the Backyard Ultra, noting there’s a lot of value to having the Lewiston event, which brings people to stay and dine in Salmon Arm.