July 27, 2010 | Tips from Travellers >
Ucluelet, Festivals & Events
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The people gathered on both sides of Main Street, Ucluelet, BC. Some held up cardboard signs, others were packing water guns and balloons. The race was about to start and the contestants prepared at the start line. That Friday night was the kick off for Ukee Days – and I was about to witness The Whiskey Dock Run.
Before the days of trucks and haulers, workers would have to wheel cargo and supplies off the boats tied up to the Whiskey Dock up Main Street into the village of Ucluelet, which boasts a very steep hill. The Whiskey Dock Run is a relay race that simulates the old way of doing things and it’s become an anticipated Ucluelet tradition.
The teams, each consisting of 4 members, line up behind wheel barrows full of tin cans and wait for the ready, set, go! Dressed in West Coast themed costumes the first team member of each team takes off pushing their wheel barrow up to the top of Main and back again. The crowd goes wild splashing the contestants with water and opening fire with their water pistols. The soaked runner returns the barrow to the start line, passes off his wet outfit to the next team member who squeezes into it before taking off for their lap.
The catch: the more cans left in your wheel barrow, the more points you earn. That combined with your speed makes up the final score. The crowd is fickle. One moment they were helping a contestant return spilled cans to his barrow, the next they were whipping water balloons point blank at his face.
At the end of the race the street was soaked, the contestants were soaked, the crowd was soaked, and everyone was very happy! The first place title went to the Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade and their prize was an Official Ukee Days Whiskey Dock Run Winners 2010 T-shirt designed by a local artist.
As the crowds dispersed I noticed arms going around shoulders, hands patting wet backs, and hundreds of smiling faces. This event was so ridiculous and equally heartwarming.Editor's note: Learn more about Ucluelet here