One of the upcoming events in Ontario is the sixth International Big Rideau Lake Speed Skating Marathon Saturday January 31, 2009. I first heard of this event a couple of years ago on the CBC and it intrigued me. Basically the town of Portland, ON, which is north of Kingston takes a Zamboni out on the lake and creates a one kilometre oval skating rink. Then they host this marathon. From what I have been able to figure out anyone can enter. There are different distances, 5K, 10K etc. and you don't need speedskates. I don't imagine you will win without them but none of us are out to win everything we try either. Participation is the key. Check out their website: Portland Outdoors
Anyways the gist of this particular post is to let you know about this great event and to give kudos to the town of Portland. I think it is a great way to put your town on the map, to get us out of winter hibernation and to show the rest of the country that winter isn't just for watching TV.
Now, the second part of this post is a suggestion to Port Perry, ON. One of the reasons Portland isn't overun with people for the marathon is that it is at least a three hour drive from Toronto.Even at that 3000 people attended last year. In my opinion if the same sort of thing was done in Port Perry, an hour drive from Toronto, they would fill the town. Not only would they come to skate or watch but they would eat in the restaurants, shop on Queen St. and look around the town. In short they would probably spend a bunch of money, and maybe more important come back again and spend a bunch of money again. I love the town of Port Perry, I have relatives in Seagrave and have visited Port Perry since I was 2 or 3. So what would it take. Well Lake Scugog is right in front of you. You have all kinds of ice fishing going on out there, with people driving skidoos, trucks, etc on the ice. So you take a truck, tractor, whatever, with a blade on it and scrape your kilometre long track, just out front of Palmer Park. Then you borrow the Zamboni from the arena and surface the track so that it is nice and smooth. Then you publicize that you have this giant outdour skating facility available for use by the public and you sit back and watch the cars roll into town. If you are the mayor of Port Perry, I am available for consulting! Seriously though I think it is a great idea. Just have some one from the parks department checking the ice thickness, and the rink could bring people to Port Perry all winter. I know this winter would have been a good one. Then you run a couple of citizen style races of different lengths and you put the town on the skating map!
I am just down the road from Port Perry so I am suggesting this on Lake Scugog but any town with safe ice could do the same and bring in some tourists and get us Canadians outside in the winter.
The Outdoor Dad