End of an era: Athletes compete in final Operation Trackshoes

End of an era: Athletes compete in final Operation Trackshoes

After 50 years in existence, athletes crossed the finish line at Operation Trackshoes one last time.

Hundreds of athletes, coaches and families attended the final day of the three-day sports festival at the University of Victoria, taking part in various activities.

Among them included a 1,500-metre race, wheelchair relays, horseshoe toss, tug of war and leap races.

Operation Trackshoes began in 1971 as a one-day track and field meet for people with developmental disabilities but quickly grew into an event that families looked forward to every year.

“This is just kindness,” Duncan Wildcats coach Chantal Clarke told CHEK News.

“Everyone’s kind, supporting, inclusivity, it’s something that we have coaches that are dedicated and through generations of coaches.”

Back in March, the organization’s president announced operations would be winding down this year due to a lack of personnel and resources — a decision she was was tough to make.

If she had the choice, she’d restart the annual event instantly.

“In a heartbeat, I would do it all over again, as would many of us. It’s not just me, there’s a whole community of people, and we’ve got an amazing board of director and people in leadership positions who make this work,” said Judith Armstrong.

The event brought many smiles, laughter, cheers and tears.

“We’re going to miss a lot of people ’cause we’ve just built so many friendships and just so many memories out of this. It’s going to be really hard for a lot of people, honestly,” said athlete Adam Irwin-gunn.

Many athletes attended the hospitality tent that commemorated 50 years of events and displayed photos from previous ones.

“I’m not sure what the future holds at this point, but I do know that people will be taking away lots of memories of the last 50 years,” added Armstrong.

The event is 100 per cent volunteer-run and brings in over 500 athletes from across the province.

Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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