There’s nothing quite like exploring our local trails, especially in fall. For experienced runners, trails offer challenges they can’t experience on pavement – jumping, leaping, curving, climbing, sliding, zigging and zagging. For walkers, children and families, a stroll on a trail is a lovely way to escape into nature. The cooler fall weather creates the perfect climate for a walk or run. And when you’re enjoying the fall foliage on a tree-lined, sun-dappled trail, pace and distance doesn’t really matter.
On Sunday, October 4, the Trees Trail Challenge, held on the stunning Franke Park trail system, will offer something for everyone. Walking or running participants can explore either a 2-mile or 4-mile course, which feature rolling hills and scenic views of Spy Run Creek. Experienced runners can compete in a chip-timed, 10-mile race that traverses the entire Franke Park trail network – complete with two stream crossings and several challenging hills. All three courses meander through and around the wooded trails, ridgelines and streams of the Franke Park woods.
I’ve been running for a few years, but last year’s Trees Trail Challenge was only my second trail running experience. After a slew of spring and summer races through parks and urban streets, the Trees Trail Challenge offered a much-needed diversion – both physically and mentally. The physical demands of trail running definitely changed my stride and slowed my pace. But the toughness of the experience was tempered by the beauty of the course, the color of the changing leaves, and the smell of fresh outdoor air.
Whether you join for the challenge, or just for the fun of it, all proceeds from the event benefit Trees Indiana, an educational organization that connects youth with nature. Founded on the idea that everyone needs nature, Trees Indiana partners with regional schools and organizations to help kids discover the wonder and beauty in our natural world. Through hands-on, urban forestry programming, Trees Indiana inspires kids to protect and care for the environment. Since 2006, Trees Indiana has helped more than 5,000 children learn about the natural world, while planting and maintaining nearly 800 trees.
Runners and walkers at the Trees Trail Challenge can register as individuals. For a single price, families can register up to four participants for the 2-mile or 4-mile run/walk. All Trees Trail Challenge participants receive a free, customized Buff®, a unique headwear accessory that can be worn as a scarf, head wrap, face warmer or headband.
Both on and off the course, the Trees Trail Challenge is a kid-friendly event. Off the course, Trees Indiana will lead kids in hands-on lessons about trees and nature. Kids can build a “Fairy House,” using materials collected from the forest floor. In the Kid’s Zone, Northern Indiana Trail Riders (NITRO) and Summit City Bicycles will host a simulated mountain bike course.
Trees Trail Challenge
Sunday, October 4, 2015
Race begins at 2:00 p.m.
Franke Park (3411 Sherman Blvd., Fort Wayne, 46808)
Individual, 10-mile race = $40
Individual, 4-mile walk/run = $30
Family (up to 4) or Individual, 2- or 4-mile walk/run = $40
To learn more about Trees Indiana, visit http://www.treesindiana.org