One of the Semiahmoo Peninsula’s longest-running athletic clubs is set to celebrate a milestone anniversary.
On Saturday, July 26, from 2-6 p.m., the Semiahmoo Sunrunners will host a 40th anniversary event at Campbell Valley Park, celebrating not just four decades of existence, but also the return to larger gatherings that have been restricted – or banned outright – due to COVID-19 health orders over the past year and a half.
John Holland, a member of the Sunrunners and one of the organizers of this month’s event, said that club members have been running together in small groups – no more than six people – since the pandemic took effect, and any club gatherings have stayed that small even in recent weeks as restrictions have eased.
“There’s been some residual caution, as a lot of our members are older,” he said.
“For the last year and a half, we’ve just kept everything informal, following the rules very carefully. We haven’t had (any official club events) and I think people have missed that, very much.
“We’ll run in our little group, then afterward some people might gather in the parking lot for a chat, or sit around a picnic table six feet apart and have a coffee and a muffin, but that’s it. So people are really looking forward to this.”
The club has about 140 members currently, Holland said, and he expects the majority of them to turn up at Campbell Valley Park. The afternoon event will include some presentations, some games, a barbecue, as well as a run and a walk, Holland said, noting that many longtime club members – a few of whom have been with the club since its inaugural year – have transitioned to walking as they’ve aged.
“All runners become walkers eventually,” Holland quipped.
The club was founded in 1981 after Myron Neville suggested the idea to Tom and Cheryl Howard, both Olympians – Tom as a runner and Cheryl as a rower. According to the club, the first meeting of the group was held at the home of well-known local veterinarian Dr. Olafsson, and eight people showed up.
However, by the following year, the club had grown large enough that it was able to hold the first Terry Fox Run in South Surrey.
The club continued to grow, and two years later hosted the first-ever Sandcastle City Classic 5K, a popular seaside race that ran for years, well into the mid-2010s.
The Sunrunners have been a constant presence at other events in South Surrey/White Rock, too, including cross-country races at Crescent Park, as well as at races throughout the Lower Mainland and beyond.
And while races of any sort have been shelved since early 2020, Holland was hopeful that some – including the Whistler Relay, which is popular among Sunrunners – would start to reappear on the running calendar this fall.