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Wild Hog to kick off new Cape Breton trail race series

Promoting the connection between nature, mental health

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
Oct. 13, 2017

WHYCOCOMAGH, N.S. – A group of youths in Inverness County are not only thinking about spending more time outside – they are doing something about it.
The group has developed a trail race series to raise funds directed at more outdoor class time in their school. The first race of the series – The Wild Hog – will take place in Whycocomagh on Saturday, Oct. 21.
Being outside was a part of everyday life when their parents were growing up, but times have changed, according to Grade 9 student Sakura MacLean.

A new trail race series in Cape Breton will kick off on Saturday, Oct. 21 with The Wild Hog in Whycocomagh, N.S. The series is being organized by a number of local youths, including (from left) Mia Gyorfi, Emma Munro, Kali Beaton and Eilidh Campbell.

Photo courtesy of Sandee Maclean

The idea was brought to the students by Sandee Maclean, representing the Whycocomagh Development Commission, and her friend, Rev. Rachel Campbell. Their goal was to promote community volunteering, as well as Cape Breton’s amazing trail system.
“Small communities need more volunteers, and youth are not excited about traditional volunteering methods,” said Maclean. “We wanted to show them volunteering is fun and rewarding, and they can choose how to volunteer.”
The organizers are hoping for a turnout of more than 50 people on Saturday, showing enough interest to continue with the series, which will include a race in each of the following three seasons.
As a warm-up for Saturday’s event, a community pasta supper will take place at the Whycocomagh Waterfront Centre on Friday at 6 p.m., featuring several short adventure films.
For more on The Wild Hog, visit here .
“Today everything is different, and having our schools change is important to ensure teens get what they need for strong mental health,” she said. “The key to that is more time in nature. Study after study proves how important it is and it also gets us more aware of the changes to the environment – an issue that will dominate our adult lives.”
The Wild Hog will include 5K, 10K and 21K races, with the trail head located across from the Whycocomagh Fire Department. The teens have been working since June on mapping the routes, promotions and more. All of their meetings have taken place outdoors, often combined with a hike and discussion around nature and its benefits.
Thinking of the heavy workload their teachers already have, the youths will use proceeds from the races to pay for things such as busing, hiring chaperones, or providing equipment. The students attend Dalbrae Academy in Mabou.
“We should be leading the way in outdoor education,” said Grade 11 student Kail Beaton, “and we are willing to do our part to make that happen.”