Summerstown, ON – The Friends of the Summerstown Trails (FOTST) hosted their second annual Skifest Challenge of cross-country ski races for its members on the last Sunday in February. Participants covered all ages and skill levels, for example ranging from a number of four-year olds, all the way to founding FOTST president, Martin Bowman, who is now in his seventies.
The races consisted of “loppet” style races of various distances. Race organizer Dan Harper explained that the term loppet originated in Scandinavia and can be defined as “a gathering of skiers who ski on a specifically groomed trail.” Loppets are popular worldwide, with some being huge, assembling thousands of participants. The races are timed, but for many skiers, the time is of no importance, the fun and challenge come from skiing the chosen distance.
The Summerstown Skifest Challenge was more a community-run event, with a friendly and fun atmosphere. Three distances were offered for the adults on Sunday morning, loops of 6 km, 8 km and 13 km for the classic skiers and the 8 km for the skate skiers. In spite of the cold morning temperature, the racers warmed up quickly and very good times were registered. “The trail conditions were just great, and for that, we have to thank our volunteer groomers,” declared Dan Harper. The participants also appreciated the snack and drink stations along the course.
On Sunday afternoon, it was the kids turn, with milder temperatures and some sun. The age range was four to thirteen, and 28 youngsters were on hand. Regardless of age, each participant decided which of the 1 km, 2 km or 3 km distance they would do. And even their parents were put to work, acting as volunteers at the various race stations.
At the end, everybody, including the adults, got a medal which consisted of a small bag of Skittles hanging on a ribbon. “Now that we have experienced organizing two events of this type, we are looking to invite the general population next year to this unique and fun event,” concluded FOTST president Vic Leroux