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40th annual Dunk River race set for Sunday

Callbeck’s been loyal sponsor from the start

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
July 20, 2017

CENTRAL BEDEQUE, P.E.I. – The Dunk River Road Race will be run for the 40th time this weekend, and race director Paul Wright has seen plenty things change and plenty more stay the same during that time.
He credited the longevity of the event to one of the things that has stayed the same – its sponsor.
“In 1978, when I was starting my running career, I was keen to start something right around here where I live, so I approached Bill Callbeck about doing a race,” recalled Wright.
Callbeck agreed, and has been on board ever since. He will be on hand for this year’s race on Sunday, July 23, to be its official starter.

The 40th annual Dunk River Road Race will be held in Central Bedeque, P.E.I. on Sunday, July 23. Shown here is the start of last year’s race.

j. norman-bain photo

At that time, Callbeck’s was Prince Edward Island’s largest country store. It has since undergone changes of its own, including a relocation near Summerside, and is now Callbeck’s Home Hardware. But its support for the Dunk River Road Race has never wavered, even when the popularity of running had reached a valley during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and was only attracting about 14 runners to the event.
“I was just on the verge of pulling the plug,” said Wright. “But we’ve rebounded from that.”
The Callbeck’s Home Hardware Dunk River Road Race usually attracts a range of 50-60 runners every year, and Wright is expecting to hit the 60-65 range at this year’s event.
The race is a unique distance of 11.6K, starting and finishing at the junction of Route 1A and Route 171 (Dunk River Road) in Central Bedeque. It was changed a few years ago so runners would no longer have to cross the Trans Canada Highway at any point in the route.
For a race to last for four decades, it must have something that brings runners back year after year.
“I don’t know, but I think at some point it just becomes a tradition,” said Wright. “There’s a lot of continuity there and some history, and it still has a local following. It’s mostly local runners, from Summerside and area, Prince County.”
Sanctioned by the PEI Roadrunners, it is also included in the club’s point race.
For more on the Dunk River Road Race, visit here.