Spruce Woods Provincial Park. For many of us Manitobans, rural and city dwellers alike, we have wondered what it would be like to visit places we have only heard about; places that are only a short drive away from our homes, and really would only take a little effort in experiencing.
One look at the Spruce Woods Provincial Park website and it’s hard to believe it’s a part of Manitoba being described. It reads, ‘Sand dunes … pinchushion cactus … blue-green oasis … spring-fed pond … by midafternoon you are enjoying the coolness of riverbank forests‘.
Spruce Woods is indeed a Manitoba treasure. Smack-dab in the prairie is a diverse playground open to runners, hikers, cyclists, canoers and campers. The people who utilize and support Spruce Woods is as diverse as the flora, fauna and wildlife.
To truly experience the entire park, there probably is no better way than to enter into an event held by the Manitoba Orienteering Association on Saturday July 26th – an adventure race called The Adventure-O. Since it’s a weekend event, check-in day is on Friday July 25th, with the race lasting a total of 6 to 9 hours in duration on Saturday, and teams of three will use canoes, mountain bikes, and their feet to traverse all sections of the park.
For those familiar with the park, the maps used will be the Kiche Manitou, Yellow Quill, Glen Valley and the Hogs Back. This may sound overwhelming, but anyone new to adventure racing could contact the organizers, and they may be able to partner you with more experienced people, or perhaps it would be wise to just volunteer, and participate at some point in the future. Either way, you get to experience the race first-hand, and get to take in the delights of the park while you are at it.
However, if you are not in the race, but decide to visit the park on that day, and happen to see a bunch of people racing and having a good time, cheer them on!
There are excellent educational posts on the Manitoba Orienteering Association’s website, demonstrating skills that you can work on in your own time prior to this and other events. With just a little effort, entry into the events will relieve any anxiety. Plus the highly skilled staff will encourage you and help out in any way they can.
Cost for a three-person team for the Spruce Woods Adventure Race ‘the Spruce Woods Adventure-O‘ on July 26th, comprising of either co-ed, all male, or all female, is $195. Mandatory requirements for this event are a canoe, mountain bikes, compass, watch, and safety gear. See the website for a full description.
For a listing of all of the events held by the M.O.A., visit http://www.orienteering.mb.ca/2014event.html
All photos by Gregory McNeill