By Cole Parkinson
For Taber Times
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
While the summer is nearing its end, Taber’s Trail 77 Club has seen nothing but good things over the last several months. Hosting three premier events, the club has been busy this summer and all saw various degrees of success.
During the second week of July, the club saw tons of activity in the coulees shared by the Municipal District of Taber Municipal Park and the Town of Taber as Trail 77 put on three events: a run, a duathlon and a bike race.
“Each year since we began the club we have seen growth in both the popularity of our marquee events and also in the weekly trail runs and bike rides,” explained Jeff Hamilton of Trail 77.
The first event was the fifth annual Taber Tuff Baby Ultra run which took place on July 8 as 127 participants from all over Alberta, BC, Saskatchewan, and the U.S. took on the challenging trails and hot weather. Overall, the competitors completed six, twelve and a half or 25 kilometres.
“The course features eight major hills that go from the river to the top of the coulees. Three aid stations supervised and stocked by volunteers helped everyone make it through the tough course. After the race there were free massages and photo booth opportunities in addition to lots of great food,” added Hamilton.
Next up was the second annual duathlon was held on July 12.
“As the courses for the Tuff and the Mayhem were already marked, someone thought that it would be a good idea to take advantage of that. So, 13 competitors biked the first half of the Oldman Mayhem course and then ran the last half of the Tuff course. The race was self-supported, so you had to bring your own nutrition. The runners thought the biking part was crazy and the bikers thought the same of the running part,” explained Hamilton.
The final event on July 15 was the third annual Oldman Mayhem mountain bike race. With prizes on the line, 100 racers came to town for the event,
“This year the course was changed to be a bit longer and include some of the new trails that have been made this past year. The course featured some decent climbs in addition to lots of technical features that made you keep your wits about you. Again, racers had four hours in which to complete as many laps as they could. Like the Tuff, aid stations were manned by enthusiastic volunteers. More than one competitor commented on how the aid stations kept them going,” said Hamilton.
In terms of local competitors and out-of-owners, Hamilton explained the club has seen its fair share of people come to Taber from across Alberta as well as out of province.
“The local versus out of town numbers have probably been fairly consistent. This year in the Ultra Run only 35 out of 127 were from Taber. We had people from Saskatchewan, BC, Wisconsin and from all over Alberta,” stated Hamilton.
A reason for all of that movement into Taber for these events is thanks to the work the club has done over the last few years. While there is still more work to be done, the club is incredibly happy with the momentum they’ve built so far.
“Trail 77 has been very active in creating excellent trails that are multi-use: bikers, runners, hikers, cross-country skiers and snowshoers use the trails year-round. We regularly meet people who are down for the day to ride/run or come camping so they can take advantage of the trail system. The Town of Taber and M.D. of Taber have been especially supportive in giving us direction and resources to work on our master plan. We’ve had runners call our trail system a hidden gem. We are trying to make it less hidden,” added Hamilton. “We have a master plan approved by the town that we are working on. We typically maintain our existing trails and add a few kilometres of new trails each year.”
Hamilton and Trail 77 thank both the Town of Taber and the M.D. of Taber for “their support in addition to the fantastic sponsors and ever-ready volunteers.”
“The feeling of community spirit before, during and after these events is phenomenal. We truly have a fantastic community. Next year’s races are set for July 13 (Tuff), July 17 (Duathlon), and July 20 (Mayhem),” said Hamilton. “If you’ve never experienced these races, start training now. Or ask to be a volunteer to see what the races are like. Check out the Trail 77 Facebook page for weekly rides/runs. We have options for beginners and seasoned runners/riders. Join the fun. We promise it won’t be boring.”