The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 27, 2013

Runners, bicylists ready for racing season

MANKATO — It’s been suggested to Chris Crocker that he move the 7@7 trail race from spring to fall, the founder of the Greater Mankato Multisport Club quickly scoffed at the notion.

“No, I want it to be in the spring,” Crocker said. “I want it to be muddy. ... I hope there’s still snow on the trail.”

The third-annual race will take place Saturday at Seven-Mile Creek Park. Crocker expects up to 300 people to participate in the event, which includes a challenging 7-mile race, a 5-kilometer run/walk and a 1K kids run.

With the Mankato Gorilla Fun Run taking place April 20 and Saturday’s YWCA Girls on the Run 5K, the running and racing season officially is in gear.

Between now and late October, when the Mankato Marathon and St. Peter Halloween Fun Run are held, there are dozens of running and biking races and events (for a list see The Free Press’ Racing Calendar on Page D2), as well as multisport events like triathlons and duathlons.

Also Saturday, Gustavus Adolphus College will hold the Take the Hill Triathlon, while Sunday, the Minnesota State Triathlon will be held. Both events begin with pool swims, followed by lengthy legs of biking and running.

Crocker appreciates that the 7@7 race is one of the first events of the racing season, especially because it takes place at “a gem” like Seven-Mile Creek, whose trail system is used for training by runners and cyclists all year long.

“People like to run, and people love to have goals,” Crocker said. “And goal-setting is important to us. You go to Seven-Mile to train, and you get spring fever and start preparing for the summer. And nothing prepares you for a race like running hills.”

The increasing popularity of trail running last summer spawned a summer series called Muddy Shoes and Brews, and that will again take place this summer with six evening runs at Seven-Mile Creek.

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