‘GIFT’ pitched to council

Local resident Tim Woods is suggesting the town host a “Gateway International Fitness Test” (GIFT), either this August or in August, 2005, in order to promote exercise and tourism in the Fort Frances area.
“It’s an idea I’ve been toying with for years,” Woods said during a presentation to town council at Monday night’s regular meeting.
“I think Fort Frances lends itself really, really nicely to an event like this,” he added.
“GIFT” would entail a kayathlon (a three-event race featuring swimming, running, and kayaking) taking place on a Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 21-22 if it can be held this year).
The first day would see a long swim (from Seven Oaks to the Sorting Gap Marina) and a long run (from the Sorting Gap east to the end of Second Street East, then west to Victoria Avenue, and back south to Front Street).
Runners would do this twice; the second time they would continue to run to Pither’s Point beach, where they could get their kayaks.
The kayak course then would run from Pither’s Point to a marker at Victoria Avenue on the river, then shoot back up the river north of the two islands (and just offshore from Seven Oaks) and back to the finish line at the Sorting Gap.
The second day would see a long kayak course across a section of the north arm of Rainy Lake, Sand Bay, and upper Rainy River, followed by a short swim course from the beach at Seven Oaks to the Sorting Gap.
This would wrap up with a run the same as Saturday (two laps from the Sorting Gap east to the end of Second Street East, then west to Victoria Avenue, and back south to Front Street).
This event would be an effort to showcase, encourage, and promote healthy outdoor activities for the town’s citizens, the riverfront, tourism, the “clean and expansive waters at our front door,” as well as the user-friendly walkways, nature trails, sports fields, and dockage facilities the town has to offer, said Woods.
Woods noted this “GIFT” has a lot of potential as a summer event.
“Aside from the merchants and service providers in our area who would benefit from such a week-long occasion, and the charities who could sponsor some of the events for eventual contributions, there are many other clubs and institutions who would be interested,” he remarked.
“And new recipients of charitable contributions might be aided,” he added. “For example, some money earned through these endeavours might be set aside to help a boy or a girl, whose families otherwise couldn’t afford it, to enjoy a year’s membership at the [Memorial Sports Centre].”
He noted other interested parties might include swim, kayak, track and field, triathlon, and other athletic clubs from Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and North and South Dakota, as well as area campers and cottagers.
Woods said manufacturers and retailers of sports equipment would be interested in promoting their wares at the event, and should be willing to underwrite certain expenses for signage rights and for temporary on-site sales rights.
He added organizers also should be able to land funding from the provincial and federal governments to stage the event because it encourages “healthier options in a time of obesity and physical lethargy in our population generally.”
“Also, sports media are especially interested in such vanguard sporting events,” said Woods.
“Media exposure, as well as expressed ‘word of mouth’ interest, provide further opportunities for Fort Frances to increase its international profile as a preferred destination point for general tourism, and for opportunities to pursue a wide assortment of healthful outdoor pleasures.”
Woods noted he has no “vested interest” in the event but just thought it would good for the community.
He said he’s currently shopping the “GIFT” concept around to local non-profit organizations to see if they would take over organizing it, adding it could be a lucrative fundraiser for the Kiwanis skate park project, for instance.
“I think it’s great idea for an event,” Mayor Dan Onichuk told Woods, suggesting it maybe would be better to have it coincide with “Fun in the Sun” in late June.
“I think the idea’s got a lot of merit,” the mayor added. “If none of the service clubs want to take it on, bring it back to the Community Activities Advisory Committee and see if they can do anything for you.”
Coun. Tannis Drysdale agreed “GIFT” was a good idea, but that it may take quite a while to organize it and it would more feasible to aim for next year as opposed to this summer.
Council accepted Woods’ presentation, but did not commit to the “GIFT” event in any way. Woods, meanwhile, will continue to tell other groups about his idea, including the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce.
(Fort Frances Times)