By Diana Matthews, The News Reporter
Organizers of the tenth annual Take the Lake weekend at Lake Waccamaw are saluting the holistic basis of human well-being with the theme “Body, Mind and Spirit.” People from all walks of life are welcome to take part as always.
This year’s Walk/Run and Bike/Hike will circle Lake Waccamaw entirely for the first time since 2011, thanks to the new bridge at the dam end of the state park.
The deadline for online event registration passed at midnight Friday, but volunteer registration is still open at www.takethelake.org, according to planning committee head Julie Stocks.
Preregistered walkers, runners, paddlers, bikers and swimmers can pick up their number bibs now through noon Friday at Body Shapers Fitness Center, 618 S. Madison St., in Whiteville to avoid standing in line during the weekend.
Those who did not register online should arrive an hour before their first event to register in person. Same-day registrants are not guaranteed to have their finishing times recorded due to the large amount of data that volunteers must enter into the timing computer at the last minute.
Get set: staying safe on land or water
The planning committee emphasizes that the responsibility for a safe and healthful weekend lies with individual participants.
Participants are expected to know their own physical limits and be adequately prepared for the endurance challenges they choose to attempt. Minors must be signed in by an adult, and children must be accompanied during their events.
The wisest participants have been training for months by covering increasing distances under hot, humid conditions.
The Fun Family Walk/Run and Fun Family Bike Ride are shorter, more supervised alternatives for those not ready to complete a full-length Personal Fitness Challenge.
Columbus County Health Department Director Kim Smith, who took the lake for the first time last year, reminds everyone to stay well hydrated, look out for traffic and fire ants, apply sunscreen and wear a hat.
Go (sensibly): the events
Walk/Run: Saturday at 8 a.m. with the 6.5-mile fun family walk starting at 8:30. The start and finish line is at Elizabeth Brinkley Park.
No one should undertake the 16-mile Walk/Run unless they have trained adequately to complete the distance without help. Expect the Walk/Run to take up to six hours for an average walker. Watch out for cypress roots and other hazards on the state park trail.
Paddle: Sunday, 8 a.m., Dale’s Seafood parking lot.
Most Grand Slammers and X-Tremists, who are familiar with all four TTL events, consider the 14-mile paddle to be the most grueling, with choppy water, hand blisters, broiling sun and muscle cramps being risks. The circuit can take six hours for an experienced paddler. Life jackets are required. Paddlers must stay between the no-wake markers and shore, and they must be prepared to finish the event without help.
Bike/Hike: Sunday, 2 p.m., with the 6.5-mile fun family ride at 2:30, both beginning and ending at Elizabeth Brinkley Park.
All bicycle riders must wear helmets and ride single-file with traffic, yielding to vehicles. They must walk their bikes the three miles of state park trails; riding there is dangerous and illegal, with a fine and court costs totaling $215.
Swim: Monday at 8 a.m., starting at Dale’s or the dam. Each swimmer must have a separate boat escort. Most good swimmers complete the four-mile crossing in three to five hours, but wind conditions can complicate progress.
Take the Lake X-Treme will also be held on Monday, starting with the swim at 6:30 a.m. Starting location will depend on weather conditions.