This article first appeared in The News Reporter, Sept. 5.
With more than a thousand stories of success emerging over the past two weekends, Take the Lake has fulfilled its mission for another season.
Faced with troublesome flooding of the dam and nearby park trails in August that forced Lake Waccamaw State Park Superintendent Toby Hall to close that area to this event, disappointed organizers
rerouted the land-based Personal Endurance Challenges (PEC) outside of the park.
Participants in the Walk/Run PEC started on Columbia Avenue near Elizabeth Brinkley Park and went to the dam and back. Cyclists in the Bike & Hike rode from the N.C. Boys and Girls Homes to the state park visitors center, then to the dam and back.
These routes are temporary, and organizers are hopeful that weather next summer will allow the circumnavigation of Lake Waccamaw that gave Take the Lake its name and has made the fitness event popular.
With cooling cloud cover in the mornings that lasted longer than usual, heat exhaustion affected only one victim. Volunteers with Lake Waccamaw Fire and Rescue treated the man during the Walk/Run. He recovered at the scene.
In tribute to this year’s theme of law enforcement, organizers tried a new “Early Release Program” for the Walk/Run. People who were registered could leave any time after 7:15 a.m., writing their start times on their bibs. About one-third of the participants left early, with the remainder leaving at 8 a.m.
Paddlers Sunday morning faced choppy water at the start and moderate winds at times, but overall a great day for paddling with waves following them along the home stretch. Only a few dropped out, and the first paddler finished in well under three hours.
A couple of riders spilled in the Bike & Hike, but no serious injuries were reported. Organizers tried out a new start and finish that had more than 400 cyclists standing on the Boys & Girls Homes lawn inside the white fence across from Dale’s Seafood. They walked their bikes off the lawn, across Canal Cove Road and onto Lake Shore Drive where they climbed on and rode off.
Patient riders at this start helped avoid the panicky feeling some participants have felt in previous years, as sometimes more than 500 cyclists took off at once. The last riders left about five minutes after the start, and organizers have always stressed that events this weekend are not races and that finish times are only for personal reference.
Columbus County Sheriff Chris Batten positioned an electronic radar speed display on Waccamaw Shores Road over the weekend, not only to remind motorists about the speed limit there, but for a fun way for cyclists to measure their pace.
The Bike & Hike finished on the lawn, where participants took their photos in the “Busted!” Take the Lake jail and enjoyed free snacks after the 21-mile ride. The distance has been reported as 22 miles, but organizers are correcting that error.
Swimmers left the dam Monday morning shortly after 6:30 a.m. into a lake that was calm along the south end. Winds picked up in the middle and heavy waves bullied swimmers at the end. Though the waves were coming mostly from behind swimmers, they pushed them east, forcing constant correction.
Swimmers followed smaller markers than usual Monday. In past years, organizers placed 30-inch yellow balloons every quarter mile along the route. Balloons can be used only once, so organizers this year purchased reusable buoys from an unusual source; a toy store.
The 22-inch “hoppity balls” have large, fat handles children hold onto as they bounce around on them, and they worked very well for volunteers who set them out early Monday morning. Heavier and smaller, they drifted less than balloons that get caught easily in the wind.
Also new this year, swimmers were treated to lunch at Dale’s Seafood. More than a dozen took advantage of what may be another Take the Lake tradition.
Volunteers track only the number of finishers, and those numbers are about even with 2012. They counted 468 people who finished the Walk/Run, 106 the Paddle Challenge, 454 the Bike & Hike and 47 the Labor Day Swim.
These number include X-TREME! participants, with 20 solo competitors and five teams completing 96 PECs.
The “escape orange” 2013 event t-shirts were very popular and sold out in several sizes. Volunteers will distribute remaining shirts to sponsors and volunteers in the coming weeks. An event wrap party is planned for later this month.
Crystal Cecil photographed all the PECs including the X-TREME!, and her photographs will be posted online. A percentage of sales of these photographs is donated to the Take the Lake Foundation.
Organizers are pleased with how the law enforcement community embraced this year’s theme, with participation from the sheriff’s office, many departments and corrections. Several officers travelled here from around the state to participate.
The committee is discussing the subject of the 2014 Take the Lake theme and will decide in the spring. More details, finish lists and photos are available at Takethelake.org, easily accessed through Whiteville.com.
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Thank you to our sponsors!
Columbus Regional Healthcare System
The John A. McNeill Family
Carolina Sports Medicine
Council Tool Company
Friends of Rube McCrae Memorial Library
Hill's Food Stores
Southeastern Community College
Baldwin Woods Pharmacy
Dale's Seafood Restaurant
Powell and Powell Law
Sam’s Pit Stop
Special Service Sponsors
Body Shapers Fitness Center
Lake Time Vintiques
The News Reporter
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