Tag Archives: Coquitlam Crunch

Merry Christmas from Robbin and Co.

The tree is decorated, the cookies are made, the gifts are wrapped; now all that’s left is to wish you a Merry Christmas!

I took this photo above in our front room on one of our rare snowy and chilly nights just days ago.  It looks like Christmas perfection, and luckily my head elf / youngest daughter got us moving towards Christmas this year by picking out the perfect tree, decorating, and even doing a lot of the shopping and wrapping for us!

I’ve been reexamining Christmas and what it means to me, in particular as our world changes so rapidly around us. Although I was raised Catholic, on the surface Christmas appears to be a day we work towards, to come together and share gifts we’ve purchased or made, and eat, drink and be merry. The time together is the real gift however, and it’s should be done more often. I am grateful that Christmas gets us all together, but I am becoming more of the mindset to just leave all the present shopping for birthdays!

Photo: Christmas 2015 at Tohni's house... (Jackie, Tohni, Patrick, Brian, Nathen, Lorraine, Loryn, Mom)
Photo: Christmas 2015 at Tohni’s house… (Jackie, Tohni, Patrick, Brian, Nathen, Lorraine, Loryn, Mom)

My children are all young adults now, and it’s been a long time since I’ve written a Christmas Letter.  This year marks over 5 years that I have been back in Canada after life in The Bahamas, and no regrets. I love being home and I love my country.

My mother Corae has been living with us since September 2015 and all is going well. She turns 83 on December 23rd. For those that do not use Facebook, mom’s become quite the star as I share stories about her under the hashtag #ParentingOurParents.  They are tiny little excerpts of my life as I grapple with trying to be a good daughter, while what seems to be, ‘parenting’ my aging parent.

This year The Bahamas took the brunt of Hurricane Matthew, and I took my ex husband Brian into my home! For those not aware, Brian has Parkinsons, and his health spiraled downhill rather rapidly this summer. He’s been back in Canada since October and although glad to be home, and with family, he has a long road ahead. I’ve been helping him transition back to the real world as he awaits his new healthcare assessments. He’s improved a lot just by being here.

My eldest Loryn (26 years) is now a married working woman, and is speeding through life not only on the snowboarding slopes, but she’s progressing very quickly in her career as a banker. Go see her at HSBC if you are looking to invest.  She and Lorraine (a nurse) have purchased their first home, as well as their first car. The girls live conveniently just down the road from us.

Tohni (now 24 yrs) has been enjoying life in the fast lane and lives in East Vancouver. She’s in a great relationship with Patrick and has been co-managing a fun restaurant called The General Public on Main Street in Vancouver. Do stop in to see her, she’ll give you a super discount. This year Tohni worked her butt off so she could take in as many music festivals as she could over the summer, and traveled a couple times to the USA.

Nathen (22-yrs-old) is studying now at Simon Fraser University and is working at Vision Electronics. Go see him, he’ll also give you a good deal!  While taking on a full course load, he managed to move out last month, so his life is full of responsibility.  He lives just up the hill from us. His present goal is to become a chiropractor like his father, but he said he’ll see how things progress.

Jackie (20-yrs) is the last egg in the nest and has been a huge support around the house with helping take care of her grandmother and father. She’s been working at Dynamite women’s clothing at Coquitlam Centre and is still keeping up as the voice of the ‘community calendar’ on 98.7 FM. She can be heard every hour, on the hour at ckpmfm.com.

As for me, life is full on! I’m still working TheBahamasWeekly.com and this year we celebrated our 10th anniversary. I had hoped to get back for a celebration but the hurricane took care of that.  I’ve taken on several other clients that I do writing or social media work for.

Some 2016 highlights
Some 2016 highlights

This  year I was elected president of the Hoy-Scott Watershed Society which manages a salmon enhancement program in the woods near my house. I love my volunteer work there, and have been furthering the HSWS public relations by building and managing a new website, Youtube and social media accounts. Check us out at hoyscottcreeks.org.

I’ve just completed my first year of dragon boating with the 50+ Nothin’ Dragon Masters, and loved every minute of it.  I raced with the team in 4 or 5 festivals this year, which was very exciting. Our oldest teammate is 80. I’ve also been playing soccer with my daughter Loryn on a Div. 3 team once a week, and it’s special time with her and my favourite game. I took my love for the Coquitlam Crunch, a hiking mountain in our city, to new heights by co-chairing the annual event, the Coquitlam Crunch Challenge, and was featured in the city’s promo video. In fall of this year I joined Ultra Throw, a brand new local club of 20+ athletes training and competing in javelin, shot put, discus, hammer, and weight throwing. In 2017 I will start competing. I am excited (and scared) of this, as competing in sport ‘solo’ is brand new to me.

As for my love life, when a girlfriend from the Bahamas asked if I was dating, I said, “I’m open to it, but any group I join, or people I meet, the guys are either gay, already in relationship or married.” Another girlfriend suggested I join the dating group, “Events and Adventures,” to which I chuckled and replied, “My life is already an event and adventure! I don’t need to pay for it, and I don’t have the time in my schedule.”  Another girlfriend suggested I try online dating. I tried that once – went on one date, and although it was fine (meah), I’ve resolved to waiting to see what life doles out. So yes, I am happy and single.

In 2017 I look forward to keeping my life afloat, and also have some long-range writing goals I hope to get started on if I can find the time!

Below is my interview with Tri-Cities Community TV featured on Shaw TV where I talked about #ParentingOurParents, my salmon work, The Bahamas Weekly, and dragon boating. Click the image to view or HERE.

My interview with Cathy Cena on Tri-Cities Community TV
My interview with Cathy Cena on Tri-Cities Community TV

Whether I’ve seen you this year, or not; whether we only communicate now and again, or via social media; thank you for being in my life.  Have a wonderful holiday season!

Looking forward to Coquitlam Crunch Challenge 2016

CC-Robbin-WhachellThe weather was perfect for the 6th installment of the Coquitlam Crunch ‘Diversity’ Challenge on September 12th as the 2015 edition took a shorter 4-hour format.  This year I stepped up my involvement by coming on as an assistant coordinator of the event. I helped with PR and social media, photography, etc. It’s a great event at one of my favourite places in Coquitlam. I was able to get in one lap myself, which I try and do at least 3 times a week on my own.

Approximately 200 people came out, and walked or ran the Coquitlam Crunch Trail to support local charities: the Coquitlam Foundation ‘Diversity’ Fund; SHARE food bank; and the Blanket BC Society.

“We are so grateful for how supportive the community and volunteers have been,” said event founder, Alex Bell. “People came forward, on their own accord to offer their support. There is no way we could have raised more than $16,000 since 2010 for the Community Diversity Fund without the support of individual donors, sponsors and volunteers. This fund is now a legacy for our community.” In 2015, the Coquitlam Diversity Fund generated its first grant of $500 to the Tri-Cities Brain Injury Support Group to help fund social interaction and community recreational opportunities for brain injury survivors. With donations still coming in, this year’s event has raised approximately $2500.

The Make it Or Break It category started at 8am, and has sparked a growing competitive spirit over the years. It had 30 registrants, (4 times that of last year) all vying to see how many times in 4 hours they could go up and down the Crunch Trail, which starts beside Scott Creek Middle School and finishes up at Eagle Mountain Drive, 2.2 km from bottom to top.

Over 100 people registered for the Recreational category which started formally at 10am. Refreshments and snacks were provided at the bottom and at the top, along with treats for the kids.  The Kangho Hapkido Martial Arts Academy were out in full force, and not only did they lead the warm up for the Recreational category, but they presented a $595 cheque toward the Diversity Fund.

“It’s been interesting to watch the growth of the Make it Or Break it category,” said event founder, Alex Bell. “This year we had an almost even male-female ratio and a few children came out, with the youngest being 10 years old. It was great to see a couple senior athletes also involved.”

Matt Sessions, who is the 12-hour event record-holder with 17 loops, won this year’s 4-hour Make it Or Break it challenge by completing 8 loops. He was followed closely behind by Ray Barrett. With the average loop ‘walking’ up and down the Crunch being around 1 hour, most of the Make it Or Break it  competitors completed 5 – 7 loops.  Winner, Matt Sessions clocked 24 minutes on his first loop. The new 4-hour format, most definitely added the speed component. Out of the women that participated, Jackie Senchyna was the top competitor with 6 laps, and out of the youth,   Gracie Lorenson completed 7 loops.

“The competitors are already giving us their feedback, and although 6 years ago, we started as a simple charity event, we note the dedication of the athletes, and like other competitions, we will have to step it up to include times, age groups, etc,” said Bell, who has already met with his team to review improvements for next year to include down-to-the-second timekeeping, as well as formal top overall male / female and age group recognitions.

Next year the event is slated for September 10, 2016, and organizers are looking to the corporate community for ideas, funding, and man-hours in order to make the event more efficiently and accurately run. Any persons or businesses who can offer help toward time-keeping, signage and printing, traffic control, event-day volunteers, and t-shirts, are asked to make contact.

“This year we had 20 volunteers that proved invaluable, and we were able to enhance the safety of the street crossings along the trail,” said Bell. “To grow again, we need even more hands on deck and we are looking for people or businesses who would like to be part of our 2016 organizing team.”

A prize was offered to the Make it Or Break it winner, as well as 5 draw prizes were given out provided by Maxfit Movement Institute which included fitness/running assessments and massages. CKPM FM provided 2 extra prizes.  “I’d like to thank all those who stepped in this year to make it one of our best events,” said Bell. “This event is taking on a life of its own. It has the potential to become a signature event of Coquitlam.”

The public is invited to provide feedback, and may do so by emailing coquitlamcrunch@gmail.com. You can also join the event email list at coquitlamcrunch.com.  Event photos have been posted to the event Facebook page.  The 2015 Coquitlam Crunch Challenge was proudly supported by 98.7 CKPM FM, Eagle Ridge GM, Maxfit Movement Institute, New Earth Marketing, Pasta  Polo, Vancity, Magenta Printing, Pack and Ship, City of Coquitlam, Coquitlam Foundation, Kangho Hapkido Martial Arts Academy, Northside Foursquare Church, and McDonald’s.

More information can be found at coquitlamcrunch.com

(Photos: Robbin Whachell)


Coquitlam Crunch Challenge meets goal in 5th year!

I’ve been enjoying the Coquitlam Crunch since March of this year and I thoroughly enjoy it. The Crunch is an awesome example of what makes west coat life so great.  Keeping fit while enjoying all the beauty that nature has to offer here. It’s no wonder that Vancouver has been deemed one one of the healthiest cities in the world.  The Crunch offers great views, all the way to Washington’s Mount Baker, and the natural surroundings of flora and fauna, and the odd wild life that strolls through makes each trek a unique experience.

My love for the Crunch inspired my interest in the Coquitlam Crunch Challenge which took place on September 6th. It was an all day event with a 6:30am start for the die-hards doing the ‘Make it or Break it’ category over a 12 hour period; and a 10am start for the ‘Recreational’ and family category followed with the start of the “Anything’s Possible’ category which began half way up and included those who are physically challenged.

The event was in its 5th year and was started by Alex Bell, a Coquitlam resident who lives near the Crunch which has increased with patronage through events like his and since the City of Coquitlam has taken time and effort to improve the path this year with a 437 stair inclusion in the steepest part. The event is actually called the Coquitlam Crunch ‘Diversity’ Challenge, and when looking at the word “diversity” most often in Canada we think first of ‘diversity of ethnicity’ which this country has become so well known for, but the definition of diversity goes beyond ethnicity and is more so “respect for and appreciation of differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion.”

Photos: Robbin Whachell
Photos: Robbin Whachell

All that aside, BCers love their fitness and any challenge can draw a crowd.  This event is definitely picking up in numbers each year.  This year had many well-known personalities and local dignitaries and politicians who attended, such as members of Coquitlam council and the BC Green Party.

“Although I started the event, I want this to be for the community,” said Bell during a volunteer meeting I attended to take part in and explore the Challenge event at a deeper level. The City of Coquitlam stepped in big this year and offered a grant and organizational help.  Volunteers also assist, some for a few years running.  Bell’s teen daughter, is an active volunteer of the event, and put in an amazing 13 round trips only a couple years ago. Factor in that the average round-trip up and down takes about an 1 hour on average to complete, and the event is a 12 hours duration.   The new Women’s Record Holder was former Olympian Leah Pells with 12 times, and the reigning Men’s Record Holder is Matt Sessions with 17 times.

The Coquitlam Crunch Challenge has grown from humble beginnings of only 25 persons in year 1 to over 150 that hit the trail this year.

Photos: Robbin Whachell

This year’s event went beyond the expectations of organizers.  “My goal was $3,000 for this year, ” said Alex Bell. “My  hope was that we would have $12,000 in the fund after this year’s event and due to donations that continued to roll in after last year’s Crunch and this year’s total we are over $13,000. So, we are at least $1,000 over what I had hoped for. More may still come in like last year.” The 2014 event raised well over $4000.

Aside from the fundraising, the Coquitlam Crunch Challenge offers those new to the Crunch to check it out and compete competitively or just for fun. It’s a great family event, and I’d encourage everyone in the Vancouver Lower Mainland to come and check out The Crunch, and consider competing in the Challenge next year. Organizers are talking about adding a new challenge “4X4” which would be registered teams of 4 to compete in 4 hours, relay style.

I better get training for next year, so I’ll see you at The Crunch!

Check out the Coquitlam Crunch Diversity Challenge on Facebook.

Final Crunch
Photos; Robbin Whachell
Photos: Robbin Whachell


Coming up at the Coquitlam Crunch

So the Coquitlam Crunch has gained much momentum since putting in the 437 stairs (295 metres / 967 feet) at the first span up The Crunch.  So much so that a new facebook page for those that love the stairs as a work-out has come about. Coquitlam Crunch Stair Crushers now has close to 150 members. I am one of its members and it took me  awhile to realize that this group does focus on the stairs  (duh Robbin). I was simple excited to find a Facebook page related to The Crunch in any event, but I was confused for a while on all the group’s focus as to how many times persons were doing ‘the stairs.’

I work from home, so when I get out to walk, hike etc, I want to see more than those stairs.  My time is also not as limited perhaps as many of the 9-5 jobbers who need to fit in a tight and concise workout, which the stairs portion does provide.

For me the entire Coquitlam Crunch is what I  love, as this way I get the intensity of the stairs, but also the beauty and endurance of the complete hike up to the top. The 2.2 km trail spans from Guildford Way, where I walk up to the Landsdowne entrance (you can park your car there at a designated lot above the lacrosse courts)and keep going crossing two more roads to the top of Westwood Plateau at Eagle Mountain. It’s a beautiful view from an elevation of 794 feet (242 m) with Mount Baker visible in the distance.

Taken the week of August 18th. New short stairs just past the flower garden heading up.  Slight detour and no worries.  (Photo: Robbin Whachell)
Taken the week of August 18th. New short stairs just past the flower garden heading up. Slight detour and no worries. (Photo: Robbin Whachell)

The City of Coquitlam continues to enhance the popular trail which is part of its 90-km trail system,  a portion of the Trans-Canada Trail.

Almost complete now is a new short stair system in the second rise above the stairs and across the street past the beautiful gardens that one resident has placed in (over their fence) which seems to be for our enjoyment exclusively.

After my run in with a bear on another trail in Coquitlam this year, I do feel safe to walk The Crunch year-round as their seems to be enough traffic noise and people to keep it safer from the big furry four-legged ones, however some crunchers do wear the bear bells, which are smart in any event.  However one Stair Crusher reported sounds of a bear while doing an early morning hike, so do take heed.

Bears are not the only concern, as it seems many two-leggeds bring their pet four-leggeds out for exercise and leave those nice little plastic bag bundles along the path! Hello… I’d rather see flowers!  It might help if the City of Coquitlam put in a trash can at the base of the stairs section, as within the first 100 stairs the other day I passed 4 colourful doggy-doo bags on the ground. Come on people!

When I first wrote about the main stair system being put in the City had marked the stairs with number points which helped a lot of people assess their workout progress, however the rain had since worn the white marks off, and I do believe a good citizen has taken it upon them self to add some numbers back. Thank you!

See you there! I plan on volunteering.
See you there! I plan on volunteering.

Coming up this September is the return of the Coquitlam Crunch Diversity Challenge. “Alexander Bell has teamed up with the Coquitlam Foundation to create a Diversity Initiative Fund for Coquitlam. Bell’s goal is to raise $10,000 over five years so that the fund will begin to generate enough interest to start distributing annual grants within the Tri-Cities. This is the 5th year for the Coquitlam Crunch Diversity Challenge and so far $9,697.14 has been raised. The more money that is raised, the larger the yearly grant that can help support diversity initiatives in the community.

The event starts at 6:30am for the ‘Make It or Break It’ category or 10:00am for the ‘Recreational’ category Coquitlam resident and Safe Harbour Co-ordinator,  Bell, is inviting the community to join him to walk the Coquitlam Crunch to raise money for a Community Diversity fund with the Coquitlam Foundation.

Last year a third category was added called the “Anything’s Possible Trail” for people with mobility challenges. This category starts at 10:30am from the Church parking lot on David Avenue and follows a paved portion of the Crunch trail up past the dog park.

The event is said to happen rain or shine, and I am personally planning to help volunteer at the event this year to get a closer look.

We’ve been blessed with another hot summer, which has given us more time to use this wonderful trail, and I am hoping that an Indian Summer ensues so that we can enjoy these warm days and hikes for many days ahead before the west coast rains set in for the winter.  I do hope to maintain my visits during the rainy season, but I know it won’t be as often.

Rain or shine, see you at The Crunch!

Halfway done... non slip grating to be added with white edge markers.
Halfway done… non slip grating to be added with white edge markers. (Photo: Robbin Whachell)