Once again the time has come for a popular rite of spring. The 20th Annual Marathon Shuffle, which takes place on Sunday, April 28, is an outing for hikers and runners to enjoy a 29-kilometre section of the Sunshine Coast Trail.
This section, from Malaspina Road to the Shinglemill Pub and Bistro, has been groomed and marked by members of Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society (PRPAWS), the Bloody Old Men’s Brigade (BOMB) Squad and the Powell River Hiking Club, said Eagle Walz, PRPAWS president. “Bridges have been refurbished,” he said. “A thousand red metal squares, numerous carved directional signs, as well as kilometre markers have been installed to keep participants from straying off the shuffle route.”
In addition, chalk lines at junctions will take the guesswork out of which way to go.
Participants of this free event are asked to register online by clicking on the Marathon Shuffle link at the very bottom on the Home Page where it says “Click here for more information, and to register for the Marathon Shuffle.” Then click on registration in the first line underneath the picture of runners crossing a bridge. This allows the organizers to know in advance how many people to expect and to prepare for the event, and for participants to view pages of details, from free trail descriptions and maps to listings of past records.
Shuffle participants who have pre-registered online will meet at 7:15 am at the Shinglemill parking lot to receive their numbered bibs that will also be their pass for a free bus ride. First bibbed, first boarded: a limited number of seats are available on the two buses that will take shufflers to the start. Last-minute registrants are asked to come earlier, at 7 am, to fill out their registration forms. Buses will start boarding at 7:30 am and depart for the traditional pre-run group picture, and an 8:30 am shotgun start at the Malaspina Road trailhead, a kilometre east of the Lund Highway. This year there are port-a-potties at the start and finish lines of the shuffle.
There will be five water and snack stations at logging road crossings that can also serve as emergency exits. The hike/run is free and participants take part at their own risk. They are asked to carry rain gear, wear good footwear, and bring some snacks and extra water to stay hydrated.
The 12-kilometre-long half shuffle is becoming more and more popular as it takes only three to five hours of moderate hiking. It begins six kilometres up Wilde/Tomkinson Road at 10 am and encourages a more leisurely pace. Participants on the half shuffle should also register online, and sign in at the Appleton Creek parking lot at 9:45 am, where they will receive a shuffle bib. There is no bus service for this gravel road option.
All registered participants are asked to report in at the finish line at the end of the hike to sign out and be accounted for and to receive their standings. Top male and female finishers will be recognized on a new trophy plaque that will be displayed in Powell River. “The bib will also get you a glass of beer at the Shinglemill,” Walz said, “where the awards will be made at the end.”