After a year of no in-person events, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guelph is considering their first in-person event a big success.
On July 11, 214 runners and about 40 volunteers gathered at Guelph Lake to compete in a five kilometre race, 10 km race, or a half marathon for the Big Little Run 2021.
Fund development and communications coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guelph, Julia Vachon, said they had perfect weather for the event.
“It was not too hot, and pretty overcast, which I’ve heard runners really love,” she said, “No direct sun, soon as our last heat came through the finish line, it started to drizzle a little bit, so we were packed up and out of there before the rain came.”
“We can’t control it, but it happened to be perfect.”
For Step 2 of the Roadmap to Reopen Ontario, organized public events can have up to 25 people in a group. Vachon explains Big Brothers worked with the city and the bylaw office to maintain proper health and safety measures for the event.
These measures included separating runners into heats to reduce the amount of people waiting at the starting line, and having runners wear masks when not competing.
During the event, the crowd was pumped up by a DJ and a bubble machine was set up at the last kilometre mark to blow bubbles at all participants making their way toward the finish line.
“We were just making sure that everyone felt comfortable and had a lot of communication around safety and what safety protocols were going to be in place,” said Vachon about setting up the event.
Prior to the run, Vachon mentions Big Brothers had more residents joined their fundraising committees and were “fundraising up a storm” for the Big Little Run.
“Fundraising definitely blew it out of the water compared to past years, everyone was amazing this year,” she said.
While they are still calculating the total donation amount, Vachon estimates more than double the amount of money raised this year compared to the 2020 Big Little Run, which brought in about $5,000.
All the donations are directly going to mentoring programs, including making activity kits for their volunteers and youth to use during virtual meetings.
“People kind of saw a need for extra fundraising on our part,” said Vachon, “We’ve had so much support this past year, it was fantastic.”
Comparing this year’s race to the virtual race held in September 2020, Vachon said being able to gather in person made it 10 times better, for her and others.
“Lots of smiles all around, people were just thankful we were able to pull it off,” she said.