Read this: Important updates!
In its fifth year, the area fitness event Take the Lake has some exciting things on tap, with timely news for participants and volunteers.
First, a safety enhancement. In appreciation to Lake Waccamaw Fire and Rescue volunteers, Lake Waccamaw State Park rangers and Columbus County sheriff’s deputies for their faithful help, organizers this year are asking other area rescue squads to join them.
With four events spread over 15 miles of roadway and water over three days, there is plenty of need for rescue oversight of more than 1,000 participants.
Organizers hope that volunteers with squads
countywide will follow a model used by law enforcement officers during major festivals here, and will spend the weekend sharing experiences and building relationships between squads.
LWF&R Chief Eddy Morgan, park superintendent Toby Hall and Sheriff Chris Batten are looking forward to seeing volunteers from area squads around the lake and through the weekend.
“I think it’s great,” Morgan said. “Take the Lake is an event for the entire county, and I welcome folks from around the county to join in all parts of it.”
“Any time you can get personnel from different agencies together, that is beneficial as far as training and overall efficiency,” said Columbus County EMS Director Kay Worley.
“I can see this weekend building and strengthening communications between squads to help prepare them to better and more efficiently respond to both land and water incidents.”
High water plans
In other developments, many people are wondering whether the Walk/Run and the Bike & Hike will use the state park trails, as heavy rain has flooded the dam and parts of the trails.
Organizers are holding out optimism that conditions will improve and that the trails will be open. They will try to hold off changing the route until the day of the Take the Lake X-TREME! Aug. 24.
More water plans
A serious concern, especially during the Walk / Run Saturday, is heat exhaustion, and organizers have taken three steps this year in addition to the added rescue presence to help reduce this risk.
Ever since 2009, Take the Lake participants have enjoyed the friendly hospitality of Lake residents, as many who live along the route hand out water, snacks and good cheer for the participants working on their “Personal Endurance Challenges.”
Organizers have distributed cases of water donated by BB&T around the route each year, but have found that residents have filled the need for hydration in most places.
This year, to ensure that need is met in all places, volunteers will set out some water “every mile, on the mile.” Residents are still encouraged to help on their own with water, or fruit, or snacks, but especially with the cheer.
Second, participants need shade, but many forget to bring hats. With help from Van Underwood of Whiteville, organizers have bought 100 straw hats and will sell them at the Walk/Run and the Paddle Challenge for a $2 donation.
Third, in tribute to the law enforcement community, organizers are introducing an “Early Release” program this year.
When the bell rings at 8 a.m. Saturday, most people will leave for the start of the Walk/un and their 15-mile journey. But those who wanted an early start will already have been on their way.
Beginning at 7:15 a.m., participants who are registered with bibs may leave at any time.
Early Release has four important points to consider; First, online preregistration (before Aug. 23) is critical; Second, the support given participants around the route may not be available; Third, leave early and you will miss the exciting and entertaining opening “ceremonies.”
Fourth, the timer clock will be set for time of day for the Walk/Run, so most participants will simply subtract eight hours from their finish time, while “Early Releasers” must remember their start times and do the math.
Early online registration for the Labor Day weekend event will be shut down at 11 p.m. Aug. 23 so organizers can process the forms and bibs. Registration will be available at each PEC, but participants are strongly encouraged to preregister to avoid issues that arose last year when organizers and volunteers were overwhelmed with late and onsite registrations. Information and registration is available at Takethelake.org.
Organizers work most of the year planning Take the Lake, but its success depends heavily on volunteers. Due to family illnesses of some leading volunteers, a few urgent needs have arisen at the last minute.
Take the Lake is a free event and the major fundraiser is selling “gear,” or T-shirts and hats. The women who have so capably and enthusiastically led these efforts, Fran Thomas and Tesa Bush, must both be with their families at this time.
So volunteers are needed to take charge of the Take the Lake Gear Store at the Greater Whiteville Chamber of Commerce/County Tourism offices the week prior to Labor Day, and then on site Saturday and Sunday.
A volunteer page on the website Takethelake.org details many of the opportunities available.
Response to Take the Lake X-TREME! on Aug. 24 is even stronger than last year, and organizers will display a 48-foot-long leader board along Canal Cove Road that day so support crews, organizers and spectators can better track participants’ progress.
Help is needed around the lake as “scouts” will report participants’ progress. It is hoped residents will watch from their front yards or piers, and will phone or text bib numbers and location reports.
It is expected this will improve enjoyment of the event, but more importantly, will enhance the safety.
Updates and important information is at Takethelake.org, accessible through a button on the main page of Whiteville.com.
This article first appeared in The News Reporter this morning.
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