Bring on Boogie

As predictable as the first robin of spring and sprigs of green grass, the Daily News Boogie is back and promises to be more entertaining than ever. All it needs now is - you.

For 16 years, Jo Berry has called together runners, walkers and strollers to come together as a community, for the community.

Together they have moved, for better health, for better spirits, for a better community, in the Daily News Boogie.

This year is no different, but after all that time, you'd think perhaps she's getting tired of the annual wave of work involved with the event.

Wrong.

"In all honesty, it doesn't get old. I still absolutely love it because the team I work with, a lot of us have been together a long time. It's the core values of Boogie that keeps us going. It's running, but it's also contribution. Everyone needs a piece in their life where they're contributing back to the community," Berry said in a telephone interview from Atlanta, where she's at a conference.

She still likes to see Boogie first-timers cross the finish line with a look of pride (and in some cases, almost astonishment) on their faces.

"Just watching that 'aha' moment," she said. "I never get tired of that."

This year's Boogie, which takes place as always on the last Sunday of April, has a few surprises and a few new twists.

New Balance came on as a major sponsor, which means everyone gets a Boogie tech shirt, she said.

Numerous requests for an offering for seniors and people with disabilities has led to a short distance being developed for them. Berry said this year's route will be an informal one, and it will be expanded next year for wheelchairs.

"Boogie is about movement is change for everyone."

It's also about being more than just a run. Boogie involves local entertainment, right on the route.

Boogie entertainment team lead Jacquie Shinkewski said it started with canned music, but now live groups are stationed at intervals, playing upbeat songs to keep participants going.

A lack of electricity meant the first groups could only play acoustically, but now generators are giving the musicians power.

Deejays have also joined the Boogie chorus of 15 or so musical groups serenading participants.

"The music is motivating. It takes your mind off the running. We go out and drive that route and look at it and where we can put people. We strategically place them so that the distance is a certain amount, and you run into something. And sound carries."

Runners and walkers and their supporters can have motivational posters made at the Boogie expo ahead of race day. The double-sided posters are staked out along the run route.

Shinkewski said this year's goal is to get participants to hang around downtown longer after the race is done and soak up some post-Boogie atmosphere.

"We have great bands playing downtown and people don't realize because they finish and filter off."

Shalen Curle at Let's Move Studio also has something new for Boogie, and she was hesitant to give out many details. In fact, she still doesn't know exactly when or where it's going to happen, but this year she's organizing a Boogie flash mob.

Shhh. Don't tell anyone.

But if you want to take part, you can sign up by emailing Curle at shalen@shiftenterprises.ca. She'll send you a link where you can watch a video of the movements and steps, as well as rehearsal times and locations.

She wants to get about 100 people to join in.

"The whole idea is to do something fun, add variety and entertainment," she said.

"Usually a mob is designed in a simple way so any age or level of ability can participate. It's about the spirit, not the moves themselves."

At the end of it all, Boogie is also about charity. This year's benefactor is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kamloops.

The Boogie board picks a charity of choice for two years in a row. BBBS was last year's cause, too.

Executive director Terri Axani said the money from last year - about $50,000 - allowed the non-profit to hire a mentoring co-ordinator for its mentorship program.

To date, 11 matches have been made.

The sports mentoring program paired together a big brother who loves to snowboard. He has taken his little brother up to Sun Peaks to teach him the ropes.

"We have a ton of moms who have written stories and thank yous. Without that, their kids wouldn't have had the chance to try a new sport," she said.

"We would love to see it as a sustainable program. Ultimately the boogie funding will be gone and we'd like to find other ways to fund this program."

Berry said Boogie puts more money back into the charity of choice than any run event in B.C.

Last year's event drew 1,854 runners, with 171 of those being Mini-Boogie participants. The mini segment of Boogie doesn't brin gin money but it does boost spirits. Not counting them, there were 1,683 runners who brought in $69,248 in registration revenue. Eighty per cent of that amount - $55,546 - went to the charity of choice.

The Boogie team is aiming to make it 100 per cent, with all expenses donated, some day soon.

Boogie is different than other runs because of the amount of entertainment and community spirit that goes into it, said Berry. "People are looking for entertainment in running now. We do such a great job with that."

While the number of participants has plateaued around 2,000 for the past few years, Berry feels it can still get bigger.

"That's the one area I have difficulty with. I'd love to see it grow. The team is happy with 2,000, but I would love to see it get bigger," she said.

"I'd like it to be a Kamloops signature event."

To that end, she encouraged former participants to come back and new ones to try it for the first time.

"It's not hard, it's fun. It's not competitive. The whole Boogie mission is movement is change, change your life," she said.

"Corny as it is, you see people's lives change time and time again in this process."

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TIE ON YOUR SNEAKERS AND HIT THE ROAD

Kamloops Run Club has two training sessions starting up that will get you in shape just in time for the Daily News Boogie.

They start at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, March 10, or at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 12.

You can sign up online at www.runclub.ca or in person at the Runners Sole, 74 1395 Hillside Dr. While you can register right up to the clinic dates, it's better to preregister if possible.

Costs for the clinics are also posted on the run club web site.

Boogie day is Sunday, April 28.

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