The third annual Run Wild Event at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve saw quite a jump in participation on Monday.
A total of 122 runners and walkers took part in the five-kilometre event at the preserve, up from just 18 last year.
“We were blown away by the amount of support and the actual turnout,” said Lindsay Caskenette, the preserve’s visitor services administrator.
“Some people made it a little more competitive, some people made it fun, just walked around, had their kids,” she added. “A lot of people got tied up with the fox, so their times were a little bit delayed.”
An orphaned baby red fox had a lot to do with the big turnout.
Word evidently got out that the funds raised at this year’s event are going towards the construction of an enclosure for the fox that has been living at the preserve the last few months.
The red fox was found abandoned by a Marsh Lake resident during the Easter long weekend in April.
With materials and labour, the enclosure will cost about $20,000. Employees at the preserve set a goal of raising $10,000 by the end of this month and they are getting close.
Monday’s run raised $2,288. “And this afternoon another donation for $500 came into our GoFundMe page. So looks like were at $8,200 now!” added Caskenette in an email Monday afternoon.
Whitehorse’s Brittany Pearson-Smith came to run for the fox and she ran like one.
The 23-year-old completed the five-kilometre run faster than anyone, clocking a time of 21 minutes and eight seconds.
“The fox intrigued me,” said Pearson-Smith. “I wasn’t out of town for the long weekend, which would usually deter people from entering a running race, so I was looking for a good long weekend event. But it definitely helps that the fox is there. It made it stand out a little bit from the other events. And foxes are my favourite animal.”
Organizers did say that all the baby animals born in the preserve this spring would be hard to run past. They’re all so cute.
Pearson-Smith, who was on Yukon’s athletics team at the Canada Summer Games a year ago in Quebec, found a way around it.
“It would have been if my friend Tasha and I hadn’t done a full lap of the small loop and checked out all the animals (before the race) so we wouldn’t be distracted the second time around,” said Pearson-Smith, who returned after the race to where the fox was making his first public appearance.
Kyle Lavoie placed second overall and was the top male competitor with a time of 21:32.
Mathieu Rondel came third overall at 22:08. Fourth and fifth place went to youth runners Dario Abrahantes and David Abrahantes at 22:24 and 23:16, respectively.
“The long-term home we’re hoping (to build) will actually go beside our current Arctic fox enclosure, that will lend well to excellent interpretation value,” said Caskenette last week.
“If we can build a suitable enclosure for him – a suitable home for him – that could mean we could acquire another red fox, so he can have a friend, create stimulus for. Maybe we can get cross foxes or black foxes. The comparison of all those species is really invaluable.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org