By Shane Frederick firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mankato Free Press
---- — 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.
The 7@7, which is managed and timed by Final Stretch, the same company that puts on the Mankato Marathon, will continue to be a major fundraiser for the Greater Mankato Multisport Club as well as a charity race, Crocker said.
The club already has voted to donate $1,000 from the race’s proceeds to Project for Teens. The men’s and women’s winners of the 7-mile race each get to choose a Mankato-area charity to receive $500.
The rest of the proceeds go to the club, which uses the funds to support other local races, including the North Mankato Triathlon and the Lake Crystal Duathlon, as well as the Green Hornets kids triathlon team and other training programs.
“It’s the only fundraiser for our club, and we’re highly supported by very local sponsors,” Crocker said.