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As there were no participants in the 72km Ultra Challenge, La Baie Run organizer Patrick Lalonde ran the event with his brother and some friends. Here seen after their run are (Left to right): Sebastien Lalonde, Patrick Lalonde, Vallie Lalonde, Michael Lalonde and Jeff Harvey.

Virtual beats reality, as online edition of La Baie Run exceeds last year’s totals

Virtual exceeded reality as the 2020 online edition of La Baie Run smashed last year’s totals, raising $20,000 for the Hawkesbury General Hospital Foundation.

“The virtual event was actually an even bigger success than than our first event last year,” noted Patrick Lalonde, owner of Lalonde Physio in L’Orignal, which organized La Baie Run. “We knew we could have somewhat of a success, but we didn’t want to create expectations. We wanted to keep the momentum going with the event and we are definitely happy with the outcome.”

Held as a ‘virtual’ event this year, La Baie Run drew more than 300 participants who were allowed to run their distances whenever and wherever they wanted between July 18-25. Distances were monitored using GPS tracking on the runners’ smart phones and once their race was completed times could be uploaded to SportStats, where the results were included in the event’s final standings. There were options to complete either 1km, 5km, 10km, half marathon, full marathon or a 72km ultra course.

All of the funds raised from La Baie Run will go to the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital Foundation and the hospital’s continuing expansion project. The 2019 initial edition of the event in L’Orignal raised more than $15,000 for the foundation.

Lalonde said the success of the 2020 virtual edition of La Baie Run was due directly to the many dedicated sponsors, who stood by the event and were enthusiastic about the temporary format.

“This year being a virtual event, nobody knew how it would go and everyone was dealing with their own issues, but our sponsors were still able to come together and support the local hospital and support a healthy community. That meant a lot to us, because if the sponsors had not kicked in we would not have had the momentum or energy to create such an event, so they were the key to the success this year.”

The gold sponsor for this year’s La Baie Run was the Prescott-Russell Employment Services Centre, which threw out a team challenge to other businesses in the area to help with fund raising. The Ecole Secondaire Catholic Regionale de Hawkesbury Kodiaks team was the top fundraiser in the Employment Services Centre team event, raising a total of $2,735 for the hospital foundation.

As the chief organizer of the event, Lalonde was unable to participate in the initial 2019 edition of La Baie Run, however the week-long virtual format enabled him to find the time to take a jog himself this year. There were no entries received for the 72km ultra event, so Lalonde and some friends decided to run the 72km challenge themselves.

“Because of the event being virtual this year, I could actually participate, so my brother and a friend decided to run the beautiful Prescott-Russell Trail that goes from Hammond to St. Eugene and crosses the entire United Counties,” Lalonde said of the long-distance trek. “We decided to take up the challenge ourselves and really enjoyed it.”

The success of this year’s virtual format ensures the online aspect of the run will continue in future editions of La Baie Run and will serve as an option for those who cannot take part on the actual day of the event.

“We are definitely going to keep the virtual going in the week leading up to in-person event,” Lalonde commented. “There will be the virtual option so that if people can’t make it to L’Orignal the day of the event they will have the whole week to participate and that way it opens up options even for people who are not in this area.

“This year we had people from Arizona, southern Quebec and people from all over North America participating.”

More information, photos and a complete list of the sponsors for the event can be found by visiting the 2020 La Baie Run Facebook page.

Julie Carriere and her two sons celebrate after their virtual participation in La Baie Run.
Alexandra Quester ran the event with her dogs Simon and Clyde.
Marie-Claude Sauve and son after their run.

Reid Masson

Reid Masson is a graduate of Algonquin College's Journalism Program. He has over 20 years of experience as a staff writer and editor for various newspapers across Canada, including The Ottawa Citizen and Brockville Recorder and Times.

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