Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fun events test mettle, offer change of scenery

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Maybe you're tired of pounding the cold, hard pavement.

Or perhaps you are in awe of the Manitoba Marathoners you read about last month and want to try a run for yourself.

Whatever your situation, ditching the concrete in favour of some soft ground is a good way to take in some scenery either on foot or on bike.

Here are some lesser-known run/cycle/walk events happening around the province in the upcoming weeks for you to try:

24 Hours of Falcon Ridge

When: July 14 and 15. From noon to noon.

What: An eight or 24-hour mountain biking relay in the rugged terrain and pathways of Falcon Lake. Cyclists can race solo or race in teams. Entry fees include access to Falcon Ridge's ski area chalet and on-site camping. Each lap takes most riders about 40 minutes to complete.

Where: Falcon Ridge, located in Falcon Lake, an hour-and-a-half drive east of Winnipeg, off Highway 1.

History: Founded three years ago by a group of cycling organizations. Race organizer Bill Algeo says he expects more than 100 participants. The very first year, one competitor rode about 37 laps in a 24-hour period. "The longest he was off his bike was 30 minutes."

What to expect: "The trail is classic Canadian Shield," says Algeo. "It's rock. It's rooted path, it's fire roads, it's grass loops, over some wooden bridges and walkways, up some steep, grassy climbs and long swoopy descents through the single track in the woods." Other attractions include music, courtesy of two live DJs who play "everything from techno to the Rolling Stones." Who typically enters the race? Cyclists who feel comfortable enough on their bikes to handle rough ground, curves and dips. "We made the course moderately challenging but not dangerous. Intermediate rider."

For more information: Email falconridge24@gmail.com Or log onto www.24hoursoffalconridge.com

Try a Trail Series: Race 1

When: July 14 at 9 a.m.

What: A six-kilometre race

Where: Birds Hill Park

History: This is the fifth year of the race, which is part of the Try a Trail Series, founded by local runner, Dwayne Sandell.

About 100 turn out for the event every year.

What to expect: Sandall says the run's landscape is breathtaking, complete with rolling hills and deer sightings. Be prepared to go through a couple of muddy sections if it rains close to race day. Most of the race takes place on a wide cross-country ski trail. For about 500 metres, you'll run through a narrow, tree-lined path that's just shoulder-width. "It's kind of on one of the little hidden gems," says Sandall. Who enters the race? "We get a real mix; people who race it to win and others who are out for the sheer fun of it."

For more information: Log onto trailrunmanitoba.com

Try a Trail Series: Race 2

When: Aug. 11 at 9 a.m.

What: A full 14-kilometre marathon on the trails.

Where: Birds Hill Park

History: Part of Sandall's Try a Trail Series.

What to expect: You'll be running a big loop that shows off varied landscape, including evergreens, meadow grasslands, a bog. You'll end the run up the biggest hill in the park. Don't be surprised if you spot some wild turkeys within the first kilometre of the trail. Who enters the race? Often, Manitoba marathoners looking for their next fix.

For more information: trailrunmanitoba.com

River Run at The Forks

When: Aug. 23 at 6 p.m.

What: Choose between a 10-kilometre race, a five-kilometre fun run or a three-kilometre walk.

Where: Starts at The Forks Scotiabank Stage. Most of the run takes place on trails around The Forks, downtown and in St. Boniface.

History: Race organizers decided Winnipeg needed a weekday evening running event. Five years later, the event is still going strong and sees about 300 participants.

What to expect: Expect The Forks to be a bit more quiet than on a weekend, making for a serene run/walk. First-timers, competitors and even tourists tend to take part on the event.

For more information: Email event organizer Bill Anderson at anderso5@mymts.net, or log onto the Manitoba Runners' Association website at www.mraweb.ca and click on 2012 race dates.

Beaudry Lemming Loop

When: October 6 at 9 a.m.

What: An ultra-marathon run on a five-kilometre loop out of Beaudry Park. It's a twist on an ultra marathon in that distance covered rather than speed determines the winner. Runners have the option to enter the three, six or 12-hour event. The goal is to do the loop as many times as possible in your allocated time period.

History: Sandall says a previous winner ran 129 kilometres in 12 hours -- the equivalent of more than three full marathons. Women have won the event every year since its inception. Last year, it was cancelled because Beaudry Park was flooded.

What to expect: You'll run on a trail that's 95 per cent dirt. The trail is really flat, nestled in the foothills of the Assiniboine Forest. Because most of the trail is surrounded with trees, you'll be shaded from the sun. "This is a good way to test the waters of an ultra-marathon," says Sandall. "You don't have to worry about getting lost."

Try a Trail Series: Race 3

When: Oct. 13 at 9 a.m.

What: An eight-kilometre run and a 22-kilometre run on two separate trails in Birds Hill Park.

History: Part of Sandall's Try a Trail Series.

What to expect: Both trails in each event are similar. But the trail used for the shorter race is the most spectacular, says Sandall, who loves running alongside the poplar trees and their red and orange leaves.

For more information: Log onto trailrunmanitoba.com

Have an interesting story idea you'd like Shamona to write about? Contact her at shamona.harnett@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 9, 2012 D1

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