Hope team competing in Cultus Lake adventure challenge

Event on Sept. 16 raises money for Canuck Place hospice

The Fraser Canyon Flatliners will be participating in the second annual Innovative Fitness Canuck Place Adventure Challenge at Cultus Lake on Sept. 16.

Left to their own devices, a lot of folks would gravitate to the couch without much push-back. It’s just so easy. Thank goodness for people who take on the role of organizer, to give us events and challenges to motivate us to stay upright and active.

One such event is the second annual Innovative Fitness Canuck Place Adventure Challenge at Cultus Lake on Sept. 16. The challenge involves kayaking on the lake and biking and hiking over some steep terrain. It’s not something you can go and do without prior training — and a team of three staffers from the Fraser Canyon Hospital… plus a friend have signed on for the event. They’ll also be donating funds for the new Canuck Place hospice for kids in Abbotsford, which is set to open in 2013, beside the Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

How does a team of four do a three-stage event? In a pack, as a team… or at least within earshot of each other.

“You all have to cross the finish line of each stage together,” said team member Dr. Josh Greggain, who did the challenge solo last year. If one member is lagging behind, the clock doesn’t stop until he or she has completed that stage.

Nurse Yvonne Dale, lab technician Shelley Empey and Hope resident Wayne Desjardins are the rest of the team, called the “Fraser Canyon Flatliners.”

Other than the five kilometers of lake paddling, there’s not too much that is flat on the Adventure Challenge course.

“There’s a 1.8 kilometre section on the [30 km] bike ride that’s at a 13 per cent grade,” said Greggain.

“By comparison, the hill from Kawkawa Lake to Othello is 11 per cent,” added Empey.

After going up the hill, riders have to come back down — so good braking and technique will be important. A five kilometre race hike in the Seven Sisters/Tea Pot Hill area ends the challenge.

“This event has been going on at Deep Cove in North Vancouver for about 10 to 12 years, I believe,” said Greggain. “It’s an opportunity to have a great adventure and support a great cause.

“The prospect of having a Canuck Place hospice in Abbotsford is a huge advantage for those children who are in a unique situation, like Tyler Wells was,” added Greggain. “Tyler was my first patient when I came to Hope and we had to make special arrangements to have him in the hospice here. The new children’s hospice will be much better for upper Fraser Valley families, than having to go to the one in Vancouver.”

Organizers require that each racer raise at least $1,000 for the cause — but the Flatliners have already surpassed their team goal of $5,000 and are currently in fourth place among all teams, at $5,116, as of Tuesday.

“Donations are still welcome,” said Greggain. To donate online, go to cultuslake.adventurechallenge.ca/, then click on the Flatliners’ team and click on one of the team members’ names and you will be guided through the process.

The team got the fundraising rolling in June by holding an event at Duke’s pub in Chilliwack, where they gained $1,600.

With the money angle covered, all they had to do was get in race shape.

“Raising money and getting in shape as a team really makes you accountable to your teammates,” said Greggain. “No one wants to be the weakest link!”

“I enjoy having a goal,” added Empey, “and the team accountability is huge.”

As work and holiday schedules clashed through the summer, the members were often on their own to put in the training time.

“Yvonne has been cycling and kayaking regularly,” said Empey. “She cycled a Medio Fondo earlier this summer, a distance of 80 kilometres, and has been kayaking on the coast on a 10-day and a seven-day trip. She and Josh also walked/ran the Vancouver Sun Run back in April.

“Wayne and I have been doing some kind of training five days of the week throughout the summer,” said Empey. “We’ve used the Hope Lookout Trail a lot. I even beat Wayne once — and he said it would be the only time.”

Empey is an organizer of the annual Hope Hustle race hike at Brigade Days and she said Desjardins placed first in his age group this year, with a very respectable time of 28:22.

Greggain may have been enjoying a little too much of the flora and fauna, as he was about 20 minutes behind Desjardins.

“I’m not an athlete by nature — but I like to promote the pursuit of health and wellness, no matter what your size or ability,” said Greggain. “It’s sometimes tough to balance the physical activity into the available hours of the day. I like to incorporate my training into the activities I enjoy and cycling, hiking and kayaking are fun to do.”