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Record attendance for Family Day activities at Summerstown Trails

It was a perfect day and a record turnout for the Family Day festivities on Monday at the Summerstown Trails, as more than 500 people attended the event organized by the Friends of the Summerstown Trails (FOTST).

There was not a cloud to be seen the whole day, the forest providing protection from the wind and the minus 6-7 temperatures, as the trails stayed hard enough for all to enjoy.

Summerstown Trail
FOTST volunteer Lorraine Clarke, helps one of the youngsters trying cross-country skiing for the first time, on Family Day at the Summerstown Trails. (Jean-Pierre Tibi photo)


Though the event was scheduled to start at 10 a.m., families started arriving at 9:30 to take advantage of the free cross-country ski and snowshoe equipment on loan. The free fat bike rentals were also very popular, with many trying out this exciting new winter activity for the first time.

By 11 a.m., more than 200 people had arrived on site, and many cars were parked on the road, as the parking lot was already overflowing.

The more than 40 volunteers were kept busy throughout the day, handing out the free equipment and free food, as well as offering directions to those who were visiting the trails for the first time.

A few statistics: 25 dozen hot dogs were consumed, along with 400 homemade cookies, plus uncounted roasted marshmallows, hot chocolate, maple taffy sticks, etc.

Summerstown Trails
Trails neighbour Allistair MacDonell (Summer-Glen Maple Products) and Trish Tibi serve up maple taffy, at the Family Day festivities at the Summerstown Trails. (Jean-Pierre Tibi photo)

FOTST president Vic Leroux was amazed at the number of first-time visitors at the trails, even though this was the ninth annual Family Day event at the Summerstown Trails.

It was great to see so many young children cross-country skiing or snowshoeing for the first time. We even had a 3-year-old on skis, and he did great. They’re our future.

Vic Leroux, FOTST president

At the end of the day, 300 free equipment rentals were made to visitors .

The trails are located on Summerstown Road (SD&G County Road 27), 1.6 km north of exit 804 of the 401 at Summerstown Station, and are open seven days a week. There is no charge to access the trails. Donations are accepted to offset the cost of maintaining the trails. Rental of equipment is available on weekends only. For more information, visit www.summerstowntrails.com or on the Facebook page.

files from Jean-Pierre Tibi

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Frigid weather, fresh snowpack greet snowshoers at annual race

The 7th annual Summerstown Forest Dion Snowshoe Race was held February 8, and despite the very cold temperature (it was -16 at start time), race director Gilles Parisien was very pleased with the turnout, as 42 participants took to the trails.

Worse than the cold was the trail conditions, with the fresh heavy snow that had fallen over the two previous days making it challenging going for the runners. Despite organizers packing down the 20-25 cm of fluffy snow, the trails were still soft, and the athletes had to expend a lot of energy to move forward, akin to running in sand. This, in addition to the cold, had a number of runners switch from the 7.5 km race to the shorter 4.4 km course.

With the absence of local favourite Rob Lefebvre, who had won the last three editions, Corey Turnbull, of Smith Falls took the title this year. A regular at the race himself, he finished as runner-up two years ago.

Turnbull says he enjoys running the Summerstown Trails, declaring, “I love the rolling terrain, the wooded first section, and then through the conifers. There’s a magic at Summerstown Forest that I don’t find in other forests.” He likes it here so much that he brought a pair of 15-year-old runners from the club where he coaches, and they finished 1-2 in the shorter race, well ahead of the other racers.

On the women’s side, Lisa Leskien, from Cambridge, reclaimed the title she had lost last year. Cornwall’s Caroline Samson-Bélair finished third.

For the shorter race, Ottawa’s Heather Lewis came in first, with Melissa McGrath, from Monkland, second.

After the race, an exhausted but happy McGrath exclaimed, “It’s so beautiful back there; it was worth the pain.”

This year’s race had an international flavour to it, with two participants hailing from the United States, on their way to Ottawa’s Winterlude. One of them hails from Beaumont, Texas! One wonders how much snowshoeing he does in Texas?

At the conclusion of the race, medals and prizes provided by local sponsors were handed out to the first-place finishers, and as is traditional, the rest of the prizes were drawn for amongst all the participants in the spirit of camaraderie which prevails in this sport.

files from Jean-Pierre Tibi

The Dion race is part of a series, with participants earning points. The next event is scheduled for February 15 in Milton.

Summerstown Forest Results – 7.5 km

  • 40:39 Corey Turnbull, Smiths Falls
  • 44:24 Dave McMahon, Chelsea
  • 46:50 Christian Bélair, Cornwall
  • 49:55 Sebastian Warner, Cornwall
  • 50:53 Lisa Leskien, Cambridge
  • 52:04 Lise Meloche, Chelsea
  • 53:00 Paul Shea, Gatineau
  • 53:30 Caroline Samson-Bélair, Cornwall
  • 55:39 Marc Chiarelli, Ottawa
  • 56:14 Rich Balderson, Nepean
  • 1:01:29 Sylvie Jacques, Ottawa
  • 1:01:39 Jennifer Gareau, Williamstown
  • 1:04:32 Josee Suprenant, Ottawa
  • 1:06:02 Guillaume Boileau, Cote-de-Lac
  • 1:08:28 Johan Stevens, Cornwall
  • 1:08:29 Crissy Stevens, South Glengarry
  • 1:09:04 Wendell Lafave, Williamstown
  • 1:09:58 Russell Dirks, Ottawa
  • 1:12:46 Mick Saunders, Stirling
  • 1:13:33 Chantal Lalonde Beaudette, Cornwall
  • 1:15:06 Tom Patterson, Smiths Falls
  • 1:22:56 Tamara Dirks, Ottawa
  • 1:22:57 Kris Jones, Port Orchard
  • 1:22:58 Diana Jones, Port Orchard

Summerstown Forest Results – 4.4 km

  • 23:59 Max Benda, Smiths Falls
  • 23:45 Jacob McLean, Smiths Falls
  • 36:42 Rafeek Mohamed, Cornwall
  • 37:58 Heather Lewis, Ottawa
  • 40:21 Melissa McGrath, Monkland
  • 40:38 Chuck Charlton, Ottawa
  • 43:11 Emily Van Koopen, Newington
  • 44:30 Clare Gallant, Pakenham
  • 48:54 Tasha Thompson, Cornwall
  • 49:06 Patricia Coons, Ottawa
  • 50:02 Lynn McCuaig, Lancaster
  • 50:20 Bryan Fedor, Beaumont
  • 53:45 Thomas Vo, Harrisburg
  • 54:32 Linda Ford, Cornwall
  • 54:33 Yvon Duval, Alexandria
  • 54:53 Rose Parent, Cumberland
  • 54:57 Leslie Ann Patry, Cumberland
  • 55:21 Tasha Spafford, Amherstview

The snowshoe race is organized by the Friends of the Summerstown Trails. Volunteers maintain the trails throughout the winter and provide special programming and equipment rentals (weekends and holidays). Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat bike riding are all available. The Summerstown Forest is located on Summerstown Road (County Road 27), 1.6 km north of exit 804 of the 401 at Summerstown Station.

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