As appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press on January 3rd, 2018.
Sharpen your skates, Winnipeggers, world record glory beckons.
Registration is open for the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation fundraiser Chain for Change, taking place on the Red River Mutual Trail at The Forks at 1 p.m. on World Cancer Day (Feb. 4).
Organizers are seeking out some 400 participants to skate a distance of 400 metres, while linked as a chain, to beat the current Guinness World Record for the longest line of ice skaters. The chain has to be in “conga-line style,” according to Karly Tardiff, director of Chain for Change.
“You hold the waist of the person in front of you,” she said Tuesday, adding she hopes around 400 to 500 people show up to try and break the record of 370, set in Hachinohe, Japan, in 2015.
“As long as the person at the front of the line crosses the 400 metres, even if the person at the back only moves for a second, it still counts,” she said.
Tardiff said it’s important Winnipeggers register online: organizers have to document everything for Guinness World Records, since they didn’t want to take $10,000 away from the cause to pay to bring an official records referee to Winnipeg.
“The registration portion of it will be very, very beneficial for us to keep the documentation in line, since every 50 participants is going to be assigned to a steward,” she said.
On top of registrations, Tardiff said they need two volunteer witnesses — who have to be “notable members of the community,” such as a lawyer, police officer or doctor — and volunteer stewards to ensure the chain doesn’t break. She said they’re also looking for a surveyor to volunteer to measure out the distance on the Red River trail.
Tardiff said she’s confident that, as long as enough people register, they can beat the record — even under extreme weather conditions. If it’s dangerously cold, she said they will either postpone the event or move it to an indoor rink.
Tardiff has also been meeting with the Winnipegger who attempted to break the record 10 years ago, and said she’s learning from the 2008 attempt failure. “The reason they didn’t break it is because they had young children in the line and they simply couldn’t hold on,” she said.
The only registration requirement for the 2018 version is participants have to be at least 12 years old, she said.
While the event is free, Sherelle Kwan, community events manager for CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, said participants should keep in mind that it’s a fundraiser. Participants are asked to raise $100 prior to the event; the fundraising goal is $20,000.
“It’s not just about showing up,” Kwan said. “It’s also about helping fund change. Cancer is, unfortunately, a disease that impacts almost every single one of us in some way, whether you know someone or you’re personally affected.”
The cause is particularly close to Tardiff’s heart because she said her grandmother received treatment at CancerCare Manitoba.
All proceeds will go to the foundation, which exists to raise funds for CancerCare Manitoba’s research and patient-family services.