Race profile: Wakefield Covered Bridge Run beckons runners to Gatineau Hills
Historic village and scenic route make for a great event
This year is the ninth annual running of the event set in idyllic Gatineau Park in the charming small town of Wakefield is set for May 4. A perfect way to spend an active weekend in the great outdoors.
Wakefield Covered Bridge Run started as a fundraiser by Dayna Chicoine as a way to raise much-needed funds for community recreation programs and has maintained its roots raising more than $47,000 for the community over the past eight years.
In the first year, 300 runners turned up and the ranks have swelled to 600 in recent years.
“It was a huge hit,” says Chicoine. “I never ever planned on doing it again, but I didn’t have a choice. It’s become a huge staple in the community.”
Over the years, routes and options have been added to the race day lineup including a 10K and half-marathon trail run to go along with the 3K, 5K and 10K road runs.
The trail runs are the newer additions to the event and ones that runner Tim Scapillato loves.
“The trail run is fantastic,” says Scapillato, who lived in the Wakefield area for 25 years before moving into Ottawa, which is just a 20-minute drive from Wakefield. “Running through Gatineau Park, which is one of the nicest areas in this part of the country, you’d be hard-pressed to find a nicer route. Springtime in Gatineau Park is just fantastic.”
Scapillato has run all the distances and says the road races are just as compelling as they all run through the covered bridge and then along with the river.
“Inside the bridge, they have groups set up that do drumming,” he says. “Imagine what that sounds like in a covered bridge, it really gets you pumped. And the rest of the race you’re right next to the river, which is quite scenic and kind of gets your mind off what you’re doing out there you know.”
Wakefield is one of many charming villages in the municipality of La Pêche on the western shore of the Gatineau River. It’s best known for its history — Tommy Douglas had a home here, Lester B. Pearson is buried in the town cemetery. But also its lively arts and cultural scene, which includes the venerable Black Sheep Inn. One of the best and most storied live music venues in all the land.
Certainly that it is an adorable spot for a getaway weekend is one of the reasons why runners from outside the Ottawa region in Ontario and the United States have begun travelling to the Wakefield Covered Bridge Run.
“It’s a beautiful spot to make a weekend,” says Chicoine. “There are a lot of cute restaurants, and B&Bs.”
The event also tries to make it fun for all ages, and abilities and especially for families with kids activities like face painting and tattoos. And there are other perks such as the massage school offering up free massages before and after the race, and representatives from a local gym Epic Fitness on hand to warm-up the runners and get everyone excited. Even the local Famille Charles IGA grocery store provides snacks. It’s a community event with universal appeal.
This year’s Wakefield Covered Bridge Run will help raise funds for the Wakefield Recreation Association, The Sentiers Wakefield Trails and Wakefield Community Emergency Fund in the Municipality of La Pêche.
Participants all receive a race medal, and there is $1,000 in prizes to give away to the top finishers.