Prince George's ultimate enthusiasts are gearing up for an all-night game spanning Canada from coast to coast.
On Saturday, the third annual Art Hawkins Great Canadian Ultimate Game will encompass 28 communities from St. John's, Nfld., to Yellowknife, NWT, to Victoria, covering 14,500 kilometres.
William Arthur (Art) Hawkins was a fixture in the Vancouver ultimate scene as a player and executive since 1991 until he succumbed to cancer in Nov. 2010.
Greg Jonuk, executive member of Prince George Disc Sports, said the game is a way to promote the sport of ultimate.
The game reaches Prince George at 7 p.m. on the Prince George secondary school field next to Masich Place Stadium and carries over the score from the game in Calgary. After an hour the Prince George score will be tweeted to Burnaby where the game will continue. At 11 p.m. the game will get underway in Victoria, the final destination.
The game is continuous with one city hosting a game each hour.
Jonuk said the popularity of social media makes transferring the scores from city to city a simple task.
"It's actually quite easy with mobile phones and social media technology to do something like this," he said, adding Ultimate Canada's Facebook page will connect players across the country. "I never really thought about it too much, but five years ago it would've been pretty difficult to do something like this."
In Prince George there are about 100 players enrolled for the spring session playing in leagues from recreational to competitive. The games are played at the PGSS field Thursday evenings at 6 p.m. The sport began in P.G. about 15 years ago.
"It's only in the last say six years we've become a little more organized and started to host actual leagues," said Jonuk. "We have also been experimenting with women's only and men's only leagues and for the last few years we've been playing up at the Northern Sport Centre in the winter.
Participation in ultimate gives people an opportunity for a social experience as they workout, combining the skills of multiple sports.
It takes the athletic endurance of soccer and meshes that with the aerial passing of football with the breakout action of basketball, said Jonuk.
Unlike other sports, ultimate is self regulated where its the players responsible for good sportsmanship as there are no officials.
The spirit of the game is this concept that interpersonal relations and sportsmanship trump competitive play, said Jonuk. One aspect is that at most levels of ultimate there's no officiating, if a foul does occur then it's expected that people will stop the play and talk about it, come to some arrangement and if they agree on the outcome the discus just goes back to where it was before the play was started."
Anyone can take part in the cross-country game Saturday no matter what their level of experience from first-time players to wily veterans. Theres no cost for the players or the spectators, but people are encouraged to make a donation that will be split among two charity organizations.
Selected by the the national wing of Ultimate Canada the proceeds from the event will be split 60/40 between Ultimate Peace and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada - with the winning side earning the higher percentage for the charity theyre assigned.
There was more than $8,000 raised in the inaugural ultimate match. Jonuk estimated the 2011 game raised a similar total.
In 2010 the Prince George portion of the game produced a score of 12-11 with the red team edging out the white. The overall total after the game was 230-229 for Team White. The final score was 253-251 for the white side.
"We try to split up the teams so that they're fairly even but it's not inconceivable that one team could dominate in one particular game, said Jonuk.
Last year it was Team Red scoring a come-from-behind 271-269 win in Victoria after Team White dominated in the majority of stops across Canada.
In order to participate in the 2012 game Prince George participants should arrive at the PGSS field at 6:45 p.m. to sign up. For more information check out the website www.pgultimate.bc.ca.