Recent heavy rains haven’t dampened enthusiasm for this weekend’s free Take the Lake, and clear skies promise an exciting and healthy time for an estimated 1,100 participants in the four-part fitness event.
All Physical Endurance Challenges will begin as scheduled, with the 15-mile Walk / Run first at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Lake Waccamaw State
Park visitors center. Sunday morning, nearly 100 kayakers are expected to take off from the public beach at Dale’s Seafood at 8 a.m. for the 14-mile Paddle, and more than 500 cyclists – all wearing safety helmets – at 2 p.m. for the 15-mile Bike & Hike.
The traditional four-mile Swim on Labor Day will begin at 8 a.m., Monday, either at the dam or at Dale’s depending on wind conditions.
Everything has been prepared to run like last year with a few fun extras, but Hurricane Isaac may put a twist on one or two of the PECs.
Water from the lake has been nearing the top of the dam, and if on Saturday morning the walkway is flooded, prohibiting safe passage, state park rangers will shut down the dam for walking traffic.
In that event, Walk / Runners will leave the state park heading north on Bella Coola Road. They will walk through downtown Lake Waccamaw around the lake to a point on Canal Cove Road near the wildlife boat landing. They’ll turn around and head back for a nearly 15-mile trek.
Bike & Hikers will leave Dale’s Seafood and head to the state park as usual, but they’ll turn around at the visitors center, then ride back through town and to the dam, where they’ll turn around to finish the 21-mile ride back at Dale’s.
On these routes, participants won’t enjoy the beauty of the state park trails, but should be able to complete each PEC faster. The Bike & Hike will be five miles longer than usual to make up for the loss of the hike.
Also, the Walk / Run would not be routed along Waccamaw Shores Road, where some of the most enthusiastic residents dress up their front yards to cheer on participants. Those residents might consider visiting other homes around the lake.
The decision on each route will be made the night prior and will be posted on Whiteville.com and Takethelake.org.
The (somewhat) exciting opening ceremony and announcements for the Walk / Run Saturday begin at 7:30 a.m., and with parking limited, participants are advised to arrive well before then.
The Saturday veterans lunch with fruit cones dessert was so popular last year that organizers are bringing it back as a “Tip to Teachers” lunch, with sandwiches and pasta from Sub-sational. Lunch will be free, but donations will be appreciated.
T-shirts, hats, bibs and registration are available at the Take the Lake Campus Store at the Whiteville chamber / county tourism offices, 601 S. Madison Street in Whiteville through early Friday afternoon.
The Take the Lake 2012 Training Season is dedicated to educators, and participants should notice “teacher touches” through the weekend. Online registrants at Takethelake.org may declare themselves on a team for a school, or for certain preset businesses or organizations.
Southeastern Community College has the largest team with 37 participants, followed by the top high school, East Columbus with 12. Hallsboro Middle school also had a dozen participants as of noon Wednesday.
Schools with seven participants were Acme-Delco Elementary, Columbus Career and College Academy, Hallsboro Artesia and West Columbus High schools.
The top team other than schools was Weight Watchers with 11 registrants, followed by Columbus Regional Healthcare with eight, and Southern Veterinary Hospital with three.
Totals for all groups are posted at Takethelake.org, accessible through an easy link at Whiteville.com.
Bike & Hike participants must wear helmets, a new regulation for insurance purposes. With that, all participants in the four PECs will sign standard liability waivers before their first PECs. Volunteers will also be asked to sign the waiver.
Lake Waccamaw Fire & Rescue has invited other rescue squads to join them this weekend, so participants can expect to see more first responders around the route. Also, Southeastern Community College and Columbus Regional Healthcare plan to have golf carts loaded with water for mobile relief stations.
The John A. McNeill Award will be given to every successful participant of the four PECs. Children riding along on bikes or in kayaks who do not participate will not receive JAMAs, but their parents may purchase “Crew” tokens for them.
Crystal Cecil of Field of Dreams Photography is the official photographer for Take the Lake 2012, and participants may see her at the starts or along the routes at the four PECs. Her photos will then be available at her website, accessed through a link at Takethelake.org.
Boaters are encouraged to take to the Lake to assist paddlers on Sunday morning, or swimmers on Monday morning for the informal but critical Paddle Patrol. No check-in is required. It is hoped these civilian patrollers will assist the state park, Lake Waccamaw Fire & Rescue and other professionals in keeping watch over the vast lake should a participant fall in distress and need assistance.
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Dale's Seafood Restaurant
Powell and Powell Law
Sam’s Pit Stop
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Body Shapers Fitness Center
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