Spirits were high last weekend as a record number of people took part in the Burns Bog Conservation Society’s 20th annual Jog for the Bog.
Runners and walkers of various skill levels completed either a five- or 10-kilometre timed circuit through the Delta Nature Reserve on Sunday, July 23 in celebration of International Bog Day, a global event implemented to raise awareness about the importance of peatlands to the health of the planet, including wildlife, forests, rivers, lakes and streams.
“Burns Bog Conservation Society raises money for educational programs and they work to protect and preserve the bog from being developed,” said event coordinator Lauren Wolfe. “We have a lot of helpful volunteers that come out every year to help us with the event.”
Over 150 people participated in this year’s event, more people than in any previous year. Runners warmed up with a few yoga stretches before hitting the trails, and from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. racers and spectators alike were treated to live entertainment and hot pancakes.
As the participants crossed the finish line, a sense of accomplishment could be seen on each of their faces.
“There was a lot of support,” said Robert Swift, the aptly-named winner of the five-kilometre race, as he took a moment to catch his breath under the finish line sign.
The event not only celebrated the beauty of bogs but also helped to spread awareness the threats peatlands face.
“You know, we’re so busy doing what we’re supposed to be doing, educating and telling people about the importance of our peatlands, that we don’t even realize what kind of an influence we have,” explained Eliza Olson, president and executive director of the Burns Bog Conservation Society.
“We started off focusing on Burns Bog and we now realize we have to educate people about [all] our peatlands because less than three per cent of the earth’s surface is covered by them.”
Olson connects peatland conservation to the wildfire battle raging in B.C’s interior. As these wildlife areas dry out, she explained, and the Earth’s climate warms, the risk of severe wildfires rises.
“It’s like burning coal,” Olson said. “[Last year’s] fire in Fort McMurray was so bad and so wild and so difficult to control … because of our burning peatlands.”
The Corporation of Delta, Planet Ice, Service Canada, CCC Chemicals, Running Room, 4imprint, Trio Sport Events and De Dutch were just some of the sponsors and donors helping to support the cause.
“It’s not just Burns Bog, we’re talking about the lungs of the Lower Mainland,” Olson said.
“If we’re going to stop climate change, we have to raise awareness.”