The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

May 1, 2014

Now part of statewide series, 7@7 race GROWS UP

Fourth-annual event takes place Saturday at Seven-Mile Creek

In just three years, the 7@7 trail race has grown up.

What started off as an event to showcase the trails at Seven-Mile Creek Park to local runners is now a stop on a regional trail running series.

This year’s race, the fourth-annual, will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday at the park between Mankato and St. Peter.

“I went in with no expectations, to be honest,” said Chris Crocker, president and founder — “self-appointed depot,” he calls himself — of the Greater Mankato Multisport Club, which first organized and continues to put on the race. “The genesis of the race was for people not experienced in trail running to get a taste of it.”

They tasted it, and they liked it. Crocker said he expects about 350 runners to participate this weekend.

The event includes 7-mile and 5-kilometer races, as well as a kids run — something for everyone at every level of running, Crocker said.

“I think anyone who knows us at the Multisport Club knows what we’re about is getting the community active; that’s our goal,” he said. “That’s why there’s a 7-mile race that will be very challenging and a 5K that’s a good way to get into it.”

The 7-mile challenge caught the eye of the Upper Midwest Trail Runners Trail Run Series, and, this year, the 7@7 will be part of that.

According to the group’s website (www.umtr.net), the series consists of 17 races between April and October, ranging from 4 miles to marathon distance.

Series participants rack up points based on their finishes, and men’s and women’s champions are crowned in the fall with each winning $250.

Currently 80 runners are registered for the series.

Two races have taken place already, a 17-miler in Zumbro Falls and a 7-miler in New Auburn, Wis. The next race after the 7@7 is the Superior Trail 25K race on May 17 in Lutsen, followed by the 10-mile Chester Woods Trail Race on June 7 in Rochester. The series also includes Big Woods Run half marathon at Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park in October.

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