Wake up your extremities with Clark race and regional hikes

Left to right: Pearson, Richard, and Rocco Ough run the Clark Center’s Frozen Toes race in 2018.

Wake up your extremities with Clark race and regional hikes

By Patrick Dewey

If you’re looking for opportunities to experience exhilaration and local winter scenery, both the Clark Sports Center and Otsego Outdoors have activities that might just be your next adventure.

The Clark Sports Center Frozen Toes 5-mile Race and 2.5-mile Fun Run

The Clark Sports Center hosts its third Frozen Toes 5-mile race and first-ever 2.5-mile Fun Run, each kicking off on Saturday, January 22 at 11 a.m. The races take runners around the Center’s property perimeter, with fields, wooded areas, and significant hills.

Special Events Director Doug McCoy said runners will likely encounter snow, with the race happening regardless of weather.

“Each race we sponsor has a target audience,” Mr. McCoy said. “Runners who truly want to challenge themselves in any weather are our target for this event. We wanted something people could participate in even if they were not a skier or there was not enough snow to ski.”

“Our calendar of races is busy from April through November, but it was notably empty in the winter months,” he said. “We wanted to combat the doldrums.”

Because COVID forced the Clark Sports Center to cancel Frozen Toes and other races over the past 20 months, admission for the upcoming race is free.

“We want to welcome everyone back, get people active, and let them know there will be more races in the spring,” Mr. McCoy said.

Runners can register on the events page at the Clark Sports Center website, with race-day registration available in the Sports Center lobby from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on January 22.

Otsego Outdoors Winter Octet Challenge

Local scenery this time of year lends itself to hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Otsego Outdoors, a collaboration among Otsego 2000, the Otsego County Land Trust, and the Otsego County Conservation Association, offers its Winter Octet Challenge as a chance to take it all in through publicly-accessible trails throughout the county.

To complete the challenge, Octet participants choose and complete eight of the 13 trails included in Otsego Outdoors’ winter list. In addition, they offer a “choose your own” winter outdoor activity option that can fulfill part of the Octet. To promote discovery, Otsego Outdoors encourages participants to visit featured locations in four distinct regions of the county.

Peg Odell is Program and Communications Manager at Otsego 2000. She said the emphasis on discovering locations in various county regions is key to the challenge.

“Participants have said they discovered natural places new to them or that they have not visited since childhood,” she said. The list of challenge locations includes trails in State Parks, State Forests, and some on private property open to the public.

To officially complete the Winter Octet Challenge, explorers must navigate their eight trails between December 21, 2021 and March 19, 2022. All who finish will receive an embroidered Winter Octet patch. Those who participated in a previous Octet and plan to participate this year will receive an add-on Rocker Patch.

More than 250 people have completed three prior ‘Octet’ challenges in other seasons. Mrs. Odell said Otsego Outdoors plans new octets in the spring and summer of 2022.

“The response to the Octet Challenge and the incentive and guidance it offers has been very positive,” she said, adding it has been wonderful to partner with the Otsego County Land Trust and the OCCA.
Otsego Outdoors serves as a clearinghouse and information source for publicly-accessible land as well as businesses that help people access the outdoors. For a full list of featured trails and to sign up for the Winter Octet Challenge, visit www.otsegooutdoors.org.

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