The Freaky Creeky 50’s first trail race nearly went off without a hitch despite race organizer Dawna Jodoin being head-butted in the park just days before the event.
However, if you ask Jodoin the event was a big hit.
“I had a fat, bloody lip,” Jodoin said. “No big deal.”
Jodoin, owner of Bush Babes and Bros Trail Running, was marking the course in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park with reflective flags and arrows the evening of Sept. 11, just days before the inaugural event, when she noticed flags were being pulled from the track.
Knowing she had a limited supply of the reflective flags—which are a crucial safety item in any night race—and knowing she didn’t have time to make new ones before the race, she and some volunteers retraced their steps, asking people along the way if they had seen someone tampering with the flags. Nothing.
She asked another man the same question.
“He said, ‘Yes, it was me,’” Jodoin said.
When asked why, the man responded by saying the organizers didn’t have the appropriate permits posted at the entrance gates of the park—which was incorrect. The proper permits were pulled and displayed correctly.
“Things got a little heated and he walked up to me and decided it was a good time to assault me,” she said.
RCMP were called to the incident, the man was spoken to and he showed the police where he hid the signs—behind garbage bags in bear-proof trash bins. The man, with no fixed address, was arrested and is scheduled to appear in court in November.
But, Jodoin got her flags back. And that’s what was important, she explained.
Jodoin said she has seen the man in the park before and she doesn’t want to see him lose that privilege.
“I think he really believes that what he’s doing is protecting the area,” she said.
“It was an amazing event,” she said. “Even with the unfortunate incident. The racers were so gracious.”
The race offered distances ranging from 10 to 100 kilometres through Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park and saw athletes come from around the Okanagan and from as far away as Texas.
Despite the violent incident and some rain, Jodoin said she was surprised to see so many out-of-towners partake in the race.
“It was a great event and people were super happy,” she said. “Runners were crossing the finish line with muddy faces and huge smiles.”
After the race started, organizers noticed some signs along the course were tampered with—an occurrence Jodoin said may not be linked to the removed signs—but volunteers and finished racers joined in the efforts to ensure runners stayed on course.
“It made me so emotional how complete strangers came off their mountain bikes to help,” she said. The bikers would ride up around the 50-kilometre course to ensure participants were safe and on the right track. Other individuals would drive their vehicles “quite a distance” to be sure no one was lost.
Jodoin said the event’s success wouldn’t have been possible without the help she got from her 10 team leaders and more than 40 volunteers—and the kindness of strangers.
She said the team will regroup to debrief on the event overall and begin planning for next year.
As for the man who struck her; “I don’t wish him any ill will,” Jodoin said. “I don’t want him to get kicked out of the park.”