FOREST CITY — Missy Reynolds is no stranger to distance running and multi-sport events. Her resume includes marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and iron man competition.
Reynolds, who lives in Forest City, has also run in three of four Winnebago Outdoor Adventure Races. The race is set for June 4 this year, its fifth.
“The race itself has been very well run,” Reynolds said. “It has been an all-around great event held in a truly beautiful setting.”
Reynolds said the event is demanding even to avid runners and competitors.
“I am a runner by nature,” she said. “I remember the first year when we started, it all seemed like fun and games. That’s when it became evident how hard the paddling was. I ran and trained just like I did for a triathlon …. But there’s really nothing that will prepare you for the paddling.”
The original course had competitors paddle in a canoe or kayak in the Winnebago River from Ambroson Park, just south of Leland, to Forest City. That was a distance of about seven miles.
This year’s race has 2.35 miles of paddling. According to race director Sam Jefson of Winnebago Industries, the shortened kayak/canoe course allows that section of the race to be more proportionate with the running and biking distances of the race.
Reynolds said the change is a good one.
“A lot of times you have these big strong guys who are able to open a big lead in that part of the race and nobody can catch them for the rest of the race. This could make things more competitive,” she said.
This year, the fifth annual adventure race is scheduled for June 4, weaving through the river, bike trails and Winnebago Rally Grounds around Forest City.
The first adventure race started when talk of organizing a triathlon circulated five years ago, but organizers weren’t confident about how many racers they would draw.
“We didn’t know how many swimmers, or cyclists, we could get,” said Jeff Hovinga, who has been very active in organizing the event. “So when we looked around, the adventure race seemed to make a lot of sense. It’s sort of an odd combination of things. But a lot of people like to run, we have a good venue to canoe or kayak, and we have good bike trails.”
This will be the first year Hovinga will not be the race director as the Forest City Parks and Rec will manage the race. Jefson is the new race director. Hovinga will continue as a volunteer, helping competitors make their way through the course.
Jefson said that there have been minor changes over the years, but contestants seem to adjust with the route.
“We don’t have a clear number of participants yet,” he said. “A lot of the local people tend to wait until the week and days before the race to sign up.”
Last year there were 35 contestants.
This year the event will include kayaking, a 12-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run. Entry fee is $30
The Adventure Race begins a wave start of the canoe and kayak portion. The race start is at 110 Oak Knoll Circle, near the Waldorf House, in Forest City and finishes at the Winnebago Rally Grounds. Racers will portage (assistance will be provided) at the dam at Pammel Park.
The 12-mile bike route will begin at WIT Rally Grounds on the Hynes Spur Trail, then go east on J Street. After a turn south onto South Golf Course Road, the riders will then head east on 340th Street to Pilot Knob. From there the bikers will bike the Pilot Knob Loop and then return to the WIT Rally Grounds on the same route.
The running route will be marked around the perimeter of the WIT Rally Grounds on a combination of grass and gravel surfaces.
Chad Reece of Forest City Parks and Recreation said family and friends are encouraged to watch the race and join participants in the WIT Rally Grounds.
“We will also be doing one more thing this year, which we’ve not done in the past,” explained Reece. “We will have a community bike ride for all ages. That is scheduled to start after the race. It’s for everyone.”