Not as much suffering in preparing for Sufferfest

Preparing for this year's Sufferfest event has gotten much easier.

Spring is here, and soon people will start training for the annual Sufferfest race, one of the biggest events to take place in Nakusp.

The three-day event takes place over the Labour Day weekend in the towns of Kaslo, New Denver, and Nakusp.

Organizing the event is no small feat, especially since it has grown a lot since the first Sufferfest took place back in 2010.

“If it was to be one person doing everything, they would easily be working full-time, year-round, non-stop,” said Janis Neufeld, president of the Sufferfest Society. “It’s an enormous amount of work. I don’t think we really knew how much work was going to be involved until I started into it.”

The first Sufferfest event took place in Kaslo in 2010, with 150 participants. In 2011, the numbers doubled to 300 participants, and in 2012, they doubled again with 600 participants and have continued to grow since then by expanding the number of events within the year.

On May 13-15, it’s the Nakusp Road Bike Weekend; May 28 there is a 5K and half marathon here in Nakusp; on June 18 there is the Burton City Triathalon and Amazing Race; and July 24, in New Denver, is the Idaho Peak Mountain Marathon; and then the main event.

One thing that’s going to be different with this year’s event is that it will all take place within town limits.

“We’re going to be staying within the gazebo park area, we’re not going to be leaving Nakusp at all, mainly because of the fact that Nakusp has two highways going through town,” said Neufeld.

“For us to cross the highway, we have to get permission from the Ministry of Transportation, and we’d have to cross multiple times. Every time we do that, it’s actually very expensive, and it’s a really difficult process to do that, so we’re eliminating highway crossings this year.”

Something else that’s different is that the Sufferfest Society now employs two people to help with organization, a marketing director, and an administrative director. They help with writing, permits and applications, sponsorships, insurance, all the registrations, and the website.

Starting April 1 and going until the end of December, the number of employees will grow from two people to four people, witha focus on marketing for 2017 to help grow the event and increase participation for Sufferfest 2017.

While there are some challenges in organizing Sufferfest, Neufeld says there are rewards too.

“Every year, I stand at the finish line and I congratulate every participant that comes across that finish line, often with tears inmy eyes because I see people so happy and proud of themselves that they accomplished something they couldn’t,” she said.

“I’m a huge promoter of physical activity, and not just for physical health. Yes, for physical health of course, but physical activity is more than helping a person’s body to function properly. Your mind functions better as well, your emotions, your spirit, your soul, everything. It can help people to cope with things in their lives that otherwise they might have to turn to other, less positive ways to deal with the stresses of life. Just knowing that I’ve done my part to help people is pretty awesome.”