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Winter race promises plenty of surprises

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Did you have fun getting dirty in the summer? Then you might want to consider getting icy this winter.

The Ice Donkey Winter Adventure, scheduled for Feb. 10 at the former site of Southwood Golf Course, is the sub-zero answer to the popular Dirty Donkey Mud Run, which attracted more than 1,000 entrants last summer.

Just like the summer event, the Ice Donkey is being billed as a five-kilometre obstacle race.

While the runners are likely to stay much cleaner, they will need to overcome a new collection of winter-themed obstacles designed to test their strength, endurance and patience.

Race co-director Rick Shone wasn’t willing to divulge too many details about the challenges that await the runners, but said the goal is to bring back childhood memories of playing outside in the winter.

"There an ice slalom that people will have to go down, and a ‘king of the hill’ challenge like when you were a kid," Shone said, before adding cryptically. "There’s also one called ‘lick the pole.’ We have a great first-aid team."

Swamp Donkey Adventure Racing, the company putting on the event, ran much different winter races the past three years. The previous incarnation of the Ice Donkey involved biking, running, snowshoeing and skating.

Shone, who lives in St. James, said the amount of gear needed limited the number of people who entered the races.

"We decided to take the necessity for gear out of the equation," he said. "Our mandate is to get people off the couch and enjoying the weather, even though it’s cold."

The decision appears to be paying off. A month before race day, there were already 300 people signed up — triple the number who participated last winter. Shone said he’s hoping to reach 500 runners.

One of the people looking forward to taking on whatever Shone throws at him is Johnny Fukumoto, a trainer from Elmwood who has entered the race along with 25 of his trainees.
"I’ve never done the winter races before," said the owner for Fukumoto Fitness. "I’ve done the Swamp Donkey (Adventure Race) twice and did the Dirty Donkey this past summer."

Fukumoto thinks one of the best things about the obstacle races is the minimal amount of running involved. Many people have trouble running without experiencing pain, he said, so the various other challenges make for a more enjoyable challenge.

"The more obstacles the better, and the more running the worse," said Fukomoto, who finished third in the Dirty Donkey.

Shone is guessing that the winning time will be around 25 minutes, while most recreational runners will finish the course in about 40 minutes.

This year’s race has partnered with the United Way, and between a portion of the $65 entry fees and pledges that runners are encouraged to collect, Shone is hoping to raise tens of thousands of dollars.

For more information on how to register, visit www.swampdonkeyar.com.

avi.saper@canstarnews.com

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