The theme of The Cumby 2021 trail race was ‘Celebrating This Land’ and celebrate, the community did, with almost 400 racers registered for the start line.
COVID restrictions required a different format to keep racers safe. There was no gathering, no mass start, and no group celebration. Participants were encouraged to follow public health orders during their individual events.
While the event looked far different from previous years it did not dampen the enthusiasm of racers wanting to compete. With the support of the Village of Cumberland, racers were able to compete on a marked course over nine days and consisted of two routes – seven and 14 kilometres. Participants had to wait out the nine days of the modified race schedule until all results were posted to see how they stacked up against their fellow competitors.
This year’s routes were extra special as they were almost entirely enclosed within the preserved lands of the Cumberland Community Forest and Village of Cumberland Parks that runners have helped the Cumberland Community Forest Society purchase. Over the past six years, The Cumby has entrusted all net proceeds of the race to assist the Cumberland Community Forest to help with ongoing land purchase and support of important restoration and stewardship programs in the Cumberland Forest. With the addition of over $15,000 this pandemic year, The Cumby organizers, on behalf of the Comox Valley Road Runners, have contributed over $100,000 in total to this worthwhile project.
“Thank you to our community sponsors, participants and donators for your unwavering support,” said organizers in a press release. “Your contribution to the ongoing success of our event is greatly appreciated.”
This year’s format encouraged families to compete together, sometimes with kids riding their bikes alongside their competing parents. At other times, parents were seen trailing their children. Eight-year-old Erwan Teyssier set a blazing pace to the finish line with dad, Ronan, hot in pursuit. They met there by other family members eager to celebrate their accomplishments. Many runners commented that being able to run at their own time and pace over the nine days was a welcome relief and organizers are being encouraged to explore similar race options in subsequent years.
The Cumby Combo proved popular with the majority of adult participants choosing this category. The Combo required racers to complete both races at a time of their choosing throughout the nine-day event. Local runner Derek Vinge clocked the fastest combined time for male competitors at 1:31:34 while another local runner, Gillian Clayton, was the first woman finisher at 1:47:17.
This year’s 14 km, The Cumby, was won in under an hour by one of the Valley’s outstanding young runners, 18-year-old Gabe Gledhill at 59:43. The fastest woman and 11th finisher overall was Gillian Clayton at 1:11:25.
The Mini Cumby (7km) saw 165 participants toe the starting line over the duration of the event. Derek Vinge set the fastest course record at 30:20.
In addition to our marked courses participants were encouraged to participate in this year’s event by running virtually in their home community. Many shared stories of their run and what inspired them to participate.
Race organizers are looking forward to the seventh annual run, on May 7, 2022.