Where is Lake Waccamaw?
What the heck is Take the Lake?
Take the lake is four “Personal Endurance Challenges” designed to bring out the best in you. This is not a race, it is free, and you can choose to accept any one or all challenges.
Saturday at 8 a.m., the 15-mile walk begins at the Lake Waccamaw State Park visitor’s center. EARLY RELEASE PROGRAM: Show up any time after 7:15 if you're preregistered and you can leave!
Sunday at 8 a.m., the 14-mile paddle begins on the public beach next to Dale’s Seafood
Then, at 2 p.m., the 15-mile Bike & Hike begins at Dale’s.
Monday at 8 a.m., the 4-mile swim begins at the dam, unless winds force us to start at Dale's.
WHO AND WHAT WE ARE
This is a good question that many people are asking, mainly because of what we are not; we are not a “quadrathlon” or even a race, (Ooops, see our X-TREME! page) and we’re not a fundraising event – so far we have even been able to offer this event for free.
So, why are we Take the Lake, and what are we doing? We are people who love beautiful Lake Waccamaw, N.C. and have become enthralled with the simple, but challenging, concept of – to use a military term – “taking*” Lake Waccamaw. We walk completely around this bay lake, we cycle most of the way - walking our bicycles through the state park - we paddle completely around the lake, and we swim across the lake.
Lake Waccamaw is beautiful, and during much of your walk or bike ride, you will be able to look out over this blue vista. You will walk or ride through several distinct sections. Walkers begin their trek on the prettiest leg through the Lake Waccamaw State Park shoreline trail – you’ll feel as though you’re on a tropical island. Then you'll cross the dam and experience Waccamaw Shores with its all-American suburban feel. Your walk down Canal Cove Road takes you through the oldest section of homes and summer cottages along the canal, and then the elevated Lake Shore Drive on a beautiful limestone bluff, and to the “young” (sparsely developed) Bella Coola Road.
Keep an eye on the lake as you travel, and watch the weather and the winds, experiencing subtle and climatic changes as you come full-circle. Watch the sun travel all around you as you box the compass. When you are nearly through your walk, take a short break and look across the water – far across the water – to the shore some five miles away, and consider that you just carried yourself all the way over there and back. It’s a rewarding feeling few people experience.
Columbus was recently rated as the least healthy county in North Carolina, and we see Take the Lake as a way to encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles. Few people can easily complete one or all four Take the Lake Personal Endurance Challenges without training, so we hope people will begin training during the summer, changing their lifestyle and diet to get themselves in shape. If you do this each year, it should be easier to train, because you will likely maintain yourself in better condition throughout the year.
Swimming across Lake Waccamaw has been a personal achievement for generations, with its first proponent, Lee J. Greer, encouraging hundreds of youths and adults to join him each year, as far back as the 1940s, and it would become a Labor Day tradition. At the turn of this century, Grant Egley began organizing a walk around the lake each year on the same weekend. In 2008, a pilot event was organized, adding paddling and cycling, and in 2012, more than 1,000 people participated in Take the Lake.
Q: Why do you call it Take the Lake?
A: When a military unit “takes” a hill or city or, well, a lake, they surround it, they capture it, and it is theirs. There is no doubt that if you walk completely around this lake, you will have “taken” it, and then you can call it yours, and then you can take a rest!
Q: How much does it cost?
A: Free, so far, and for as long as we can (Note: there is an entry fee for the TTL X-TREME!)
Q: What's with the funny brochure and artwork?
A: After the 2010 Take the Lake season -- or sometime during it, likely -- we started thinking how themes might liven up our event each year, and soon realized they could play two important roles: They could add color and variety to each season; and they could help us target specific groups of people each season. We started with "Military" in 2011, then "Educators" in 2012, and in 2013, we targeted law enforcement officers in "The Year we Called the Cops!" In 2014 we grew our share of farmers with an agricultural theme, and in 2015, artists painted our season bright.
Q: What is this X-TREME! thing?
A: While any one of our PECs is enough for some people, some people just couldn't resist trying to do all four in one day. Whiteville resident Russell Smith did this in 2009 and two TTL committee members, Brett Gore and Mark Gilchrist, did it in 2010. We offered it as an official event in 2011 and had 12 participants. Unlike the TTL "Classic," there is a fee for the X-TREME! and it is considered a race. Also, we offer the four-part X-TREME! as a team relay event. See our X-TREME! page for details.
Q: Why is it not a race?
A: Take the Lake organizers are passionate about providing a fitness event for the average person. We do keep times, but we do not promote the four PECs as races. We love to have anyone participate – including marathoners and triathletes – but our hearts are in this for the person who just wants or needs this kind of incentive to get or stay fit. (Note: Remember that TTL X-TREME! is a race.)
Q: For the Bike & Hike, why do we go clockwise?
A: This eases the traffic jam at the dam. If more than 500 cyclists all rode down to the dam first, most would be there in about half an hour, and most would have to wait half an hour to cross the dam.
Q: For the Walk / Run, why do we start at Elizabeth Brinkley Park?
A: We started the Walk / Run at Lake Waccamaw State park for years, until we found a beautiful orchard owned by Gray Rogers just south of Elizabeth Brinkley Park. Starting there added about a quarter mile to the trip, but it is more easily accessible, central to the town and offers more shade. We have since moved about 50 yards north to start inside Elizabeth Brinkley Park, in the shaded picnic area.
Q: Why do we need a helmet for the Bike & Hike?
A: Insurance. Without helmets, we can have no insurance. Without insurance, we can have no Take the Lake. Sooo... no helmet, no JAMA.
Q: For the Bike & Hike, why can't we ride through the woods?
A: NOTE: In the spring of 2012, we introduced the Pat Fatmucket Fun Ride for people who don't want to walk their bicycles through the state park. Friends of the Lake Waccamaw State Park took this up and plan to hold two of these each year.
This is a matter for the state of North Carolina, and not us, though we don't really mind it this way. The trail from the park campground to the dam is on state park land, and has not been authorized as a riding trail. For the trail to have that status would be a long process involving, first, a new surface.
Even if the trail was resurfaced and would be safe to ride on a bicycle, it would hardly be safe for more than 500 people to ride on it during an event like Take the Lake. We believe that the trail would have to be at least 10 feet wide to accommodate that many people safely. We believe this because we know that not everybody rides as safely as we do, that everyone rides at different speeds, and many ride two and three abreast, making passing difficult.
If somehow the trail would be widened and resurfaced, we would then have to extend the route (and change the name) of the Bike & Hike, because riding a bicycle 15 miles is not at all a real Take the Lake Personal Endurance Challenge. We would consider either riding twice around the lake, detouring to Hallsboro or somewhere, or removing the challenge from the Take the Lake weekend.
Meanwhile, it is up to the individual to enjoy the Bike & Hike. Decide if riding 12 miles and walking three miles is something you would like to do. You may see the hike as an enjoyable walk along the beautiful shore of Lake Waccamaw. You may see it as a chance to take a breath, chat with your friends and relax. These have been some of the approaches of the people who have enjoyed the Bike & Hike.
If you see the hike as an interruption of the bike ride, and if you try to rush through it, and if you spend the entire three miles thinking about how the trail could be paved, and how it should be paved, and how it isn't paved and how you really wish it was paved, and how your life is miserable because the trail isn't paved, then chances are, you will not enjoy the Bike & Hike.
We all could wish that Lake Waccamaw was smaller, and that the length of the Walk / Run was only, say, 10 miles. But it isn't. And that's the great challenge of Take the Lake; we have accepted the natural phenomenon that is Lake Waccamaw, and by land or by sea, by foot, paddle, spoke or stroke, we will conquer it; we will Take this Lake!