Taylor Kraayenbrink of Port Lambton wins the 42nd bridge race June 2, 2019 (BlackburnNews.com photo by Dave Dentinger)

CHOK to take over long-running bridge race

CHOK Radio intends to make sure the 42-year-old Blue Water Bridge race is far from the finish line.

Marketing Manager Aaron Zimmer said Thursday longtime event partner the YMCA is stepping back, and the radio station will oversee the race in 2020.

“They’re great people and they did great things, but they just have a different direction that they’re going with their Strong Kids Campaign and their fundraising,” said Zimmer. “So they came to us and we said that we don’t want to see this race come to an end, it was started with former CHOK Sports Director George Heath 42 years ago, and we want to continue this on. We’d love to see the 50th anniversary of the race in several years.”

Zimmer said CHOK is excited to take over the Port Huron to Sarnia race, and will make some changes, but the main thing that will always be there is the bridge.

“We’d like to give the runners just something different to see, another direction to go in, and that’s what we’re going to work on over the winter. Come up with a new route, and some ideas to enhance the race,” he said.

CHOK Marketing Director Aaron Zimmer. June 12, 2019. (BlackburnNews photo)

CHOK Marketing Director Aaron Zimmer. June 12, 2019. (BlackburnNews photo)

Zimmer said plans for the 2020 International Bridge Race to be held June 7 have already begun.

He said he hopes to attract more runners, including more from out-of-town, and partner with local non-profit organizations so portions of the proceeds can benefit several groups.

“Over a hundred volunteers are required to run a race like this, so we’re looking for organizations that can provide multiple people to help us out, plus community people. And we’re also going to be looking for corporate sponsorships,” said Zimmer.

The VP of development for the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, Heidi Peever, confirmed their race partnership with CHOK has concluded.

“We have enjoyed our role in the bridge race and our partnership with CHOK over the decades,” Peever said in a news release. “CHOK is an incredible community partner and we look forward to continuing our relationship in new ways for the same shared goal – to support healthy, active children and families in the community.”

-With files from Colin Gowdy