The North Highlands Nordic Ski Club will host the third annual Trail Shop Marathon on Sunday, March 7th. Participants can ski 42 km (full marathon), 21 km (half-marathon), 10.5 km (quarter-marathon) and 4km and can race using Classic or Skate techniques.
Coordinator Linda Murray describes how the marathon originated. “The race skiers in the province were looking for a long distance event. We had been doing loppets for around twenty years and decided to add a distance component.”
Participation in the event doubled from year one to two and organizers are hoping to see that trend continue this year. Last year skiers came from all around the province and from as far away as New Brunswick. Though billed as a race, skiers can still go at their own pace and ski the distance they are comfortable with. The longer distance covers the majority of the trail system, providing a good tour of what it has to offer in terms of terrain and scenery. The 4k covers the easiest part of the trail system.
The North Highlands Nordic Ski Club was founded in 1977 by a small group of enthusiastic cross country skiers who shared a love of winter and of the scenery in the northeast highlands area of Cape Breton. The club now operates a heated waxing, warmup and ski rental room in the Cape North Community Centre. A mechanically groomed 17km trail network offers panoramic views of some of the Island’s best scenery. The club has hosted major national and regional ski races including the 1987 Canada Winter Games, 1989 Canadian Junior Nationals, four Atlantic Championships and every Nova Scotia Provincial Championships since 1989.
Forty people volunteer on site to coordinate the race while another twenty-five prepare food for a large post-race BBQ. The race begins at 11am and participants can register until 10am. Prizes donated by The Trail Shop will be awarded for each distance.
Payment: Cash or cheque. Registration fee includes one voucher to the post-race barbeque.
Murray says that the late winter weather in Cape Breton can pose challenges to the event but that the dedicated volunteers, like the participants, rise to the occasion.
“The year before last, only Cape North area was hit by an ice storm during the night before. It knocked out the power and trees were down all along the course. Most skiers coming from even 15 km away weren’t aware of this. The race had to go on. We got a generator so we had a bit of power. Maurice Curtis, who was in charge of the trails, went out at 5 am and cleared a ‘winter supply of wood’ from the trails. The race was delayed one hour but as the skiers took off, the sun came out and the ice started falling out of the trees!”
For more information phone the ski room at 902-383-2479 or visit http://nhn.xcski.ca