In the midst of a Winnipeg heat wave, runners gathered again this weekend for yet another evening of winter fun.
The First Annual Frozen Forked Red-Ass IceRiver FatAss Trail Half Marathon was held at The Forks on Saturday night. Start time was 7:00 pm, while finishing times were whenever anyone wished to cross the finish line.
It was an unsupported event advertised through the Facebook page of Manitoba Trail Runners, and organized by local sportsman Curtis Guiboche.
“I was inspired to host this event when I realized the large gap in between the Resolution Run 5k on January 1 at the West Portage YMCA, and the Hypothermic Half Marathon, February 23rd at Fort Whyte Centre,” explained Guiboche. “Knowing how cold and boring January in Winnipeg can be, I wanted a get together fitness event.”
This is the second of such nocturnal running events held in Winnipeg recently. The first race of this kind was held in November at the conclusion of the Santa Claus Parade. That chilly run, dubbed The Fat Ass Full Frosty Beaver Moon Half Marathon, was created by local athlete, Rheal Poirier.
“I saw the previous success of Rheal’s free half marathon,” said Guiboche, “and knew if I could create a unique event, people would come out.”
Participants needed only to visit the Facebook page created by Guiboche (and advertised on Manitoba Trail Runners page), follow the links to the map, and take a quick look at the textual course description. In this case, Guiboche put the map on the Garmin site, and the directions were straightforward.
“Since this race is all about participation and enjoying Winnipeg’s scenery, it really doesn’t matter how you do the route, as long as you get there while enjoying it,” Guiboche said.
Both races utilized The Forks as their staging point, so there was no problem with finding either race. This latest winter running event used Winnipeg’s mostly groomed footpaths, which are well lit and scenic. The bonus is that you can run in the evening with people and enjoy the views of a winter night.
With the Manitoba Trail Runners Facebook site boasting almost 170 members, there is clearly an interest in outdoor trail running in Winnipeg, and the enthusiasm of the runners cannot be missed. The page was created by local sportsman Alain Foidart.
“The Manitoba Trail Runners is basically just a Facebook group I started last year,” said Foidart. “Most of the unofficially loosely organized moonlight runs originated on the Facebook group.”
One great feature about both of these events is that they were free. There were no standings or times, and the course was self-supported (but other runners are asked to help if needed).
The safety of running in groups of people is also appealing for many who wouldn’t get to see the trail at night without events such as these.
Nicole Nicol even stopped in the middle of her run to help a few young women change a tire on their car. Nicole didn’t give it a second thought to help the people in need. This is the kind of people who are the grassroots of our community.
Guiboche was happy with Saturday night’s turnout, which included about 20 runners.
“I think everyone had a good time tonight, and the people were fantastic,” said Guiboche. “I am so happy with the success that I plan on organizing a smaller 10k run in the future.”
As a local ultra-marathoner and educator, Dwayne Sandall, put it, “One less runner on the roads means we are one stronger on the trails!”
Manitoba’s Winter Ultra Marathon is coming up soon on Saturday, February 15, 2014. More information about this 130 km endurance test can be found http://actifepi.ca/. Race organizers have put out a call for volunteers.
And more information on Manitoba Summer Ultra Marathons and clinics, visit: https://www.facebook.com/trailrunmanitoba
All photos by Gregory McNeill