For the third year in a row, mountain bike enthusiasts have a chance to participate in a race that not only tests their skills and endurance, but helps generate money to support humanitarian work in Ethiopia.
The third annual Test of Humanity race takes place in Summerland on Sept. 22 with races for beginner to expert mountain bikers of all ages. Last year, the race raised $34,665 for Canadian Humanitarian’s Ethiopian projects, as well as collecting food for the Summerland food bank, fulfilling the dual goals set out by the race’s founders, Nic and Sheilagh Seaton.
“It’s fantastic. Over the first two years, we raised a total of $75,000 and that contributed to the building of a school in a rural village in Ethiopia,” said Sheilagh Seaton, an instructor at Okanagan College. A documentary about the race and the work being done in Ethiopia is available at www.testofhumanity.com
The Seatons started working on the race after a trip to Ethiopia with a group of Sheilagh’s students.
“Coming back from that course was what inspired us to see if we could do something more to help with the projects Canadian Humanitarian was doing in Ethiopia,” she said. “Somehow we came up with the idea of a mountain bike race, because at that time, there wasn’t really anything in the fall in the Okanagan for mountain bikers.”
This year, some of the founding members of Canadian Humanitarian will be at the race, and Sheilagh said cyclist Axel Merckx and his family have already registered to take part.
“And Evan Guthrie is back to defend his title,” said Sheilagh. Guthrie finished first out of 73 riders in the Men’s 16 to 39 age group last year, completing seven laps at an average speed of 18.71 kmh.
Since the race is a fundraiser, the organizers have done their best to accommodate as wide a range of competitors as possible, ensuring there is a category for all skill levels. For 2013, there are five categories, starting with the Half-hour Test for ages three to six; the One-hour Test for ages seven to 10 and the Two-hour Test for ages 11 to 15. Riders aged 16 and up have their choice of the one-lap Test Ride or the full Four-hour Test.
“The Four-hour Test can accommodate a variety of skill levels because you are doing your own race,” said Sheilagh. “There are people that do six or seven laps, either as individuals or as a (two person) team, but other people are happy to do one lap.”
The race has changed slowly over its three years. This year they’ve focused on adding more activities for children, to get more kids involved in the race.
“Every year we change it just a little bit based on people’s feedback,” said Sheilagh.
The day gets underway on Sunday with the first pre-race meetings at 8:30 a.m., leading up to the final event, the Four-hour Test, which starts at 11 a.m. A full race schedule, along with course information is available online at www.testofhumanity.com.
All financial proceeds from the race support the Canadian Humanitarian Association (canadianhumanitarian.com) and each registered participant is asked to bring a small bag of nonperishable food items, which will be donated to the South Okanagan Food Bank.
“Whatever they bring, we just ask them to make a contribution as part of their registration. We don’t want to ignore the fact that we also have local requirements or people in need,” said Sheilagh. “It is amazing to see how many people are interested in doing good in the world.”