San Lee Park to host half marathon and Bouldergeist

Feb. 27, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

San Lee Park’s Mountain Bike Trail is one of the best, and most challenging, trails in the Southeast says Charlie Storm, owner of Storm Endurance Sports in Sanford.

When the trail welcomes Bouldergeist III on Sunday, March 17, even bikers who’ve raced in the first two years of Bouldergeists will see a longer trail with new tests. Proceeds from the inaugural Half Marathon at San Lee Park on Saturday, March 16, then Bouldergeist III the next day, will go to making San Lee Park’s trail even better for years, runners and bikers to come.

“Definitely, people who come who are new to the trail, they love it,” Storm said. “Guys who like a challenge, they love it here.”The natural terrain, thanks in part to the Jonesboro Fault Line which runs through the park, plays a big role in the trail’s unique qualities.

More importantly, Storm credits Donn Otte’s years of volunteer work. Otte’s award-winning work is the reason riders making a return visit to Bouldergeist will have to tackle more this year.

Otte, who’s volunteered at San Lee Park for more than 15 years, was given the 2012 Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service by the North Carolina Commission on Volunteer and Community Service at the State Capitol last April.

Money from Bouldergeist I and II and Storm Racing Club has funded trail improvements over the past couple years, notably about four more miles added to the trail in the last two years. Bouldergeist III will include eight races for riders from kids in a half-mile race up to professional and category 1 mountain bikers going for cash prizes in the second race of the Southern Classic Mountain Bike Series year.

“The best part about the race is instead of the money going for our club activities, all the proceeds go back to the park for the mountain bike trail,” Storm said.

Otte is the main man who turns the funds into trail. With a mini-excavator and 15 days of his vacation time in December and January, Otte cleared more trail adding increased variety and challenge to the course, Storm said.

Storm compares one new stretch to a BMX course. About a third- to half-mile of Otte’s work is downhill, 2-3 feet “wide” and with “mini jumps,” Storm said. “It’s such a unique feature. There’s nothing like that around,” he said.

The “rock garden” won’t be a new part of the path. It’s a rocky, clearly, mile-long segment along a ridge line and one of the best places for spectators to watch as it’s an easy walk from the parking lot and main area of the park.

Adding the half marathon has already been a success, even a few weeks out from the big weekend, Storm said. They’ve already had a good pre-registration turnout. The half marathon, which will run partly on the bike trail and partly on San Lee’s hiking trails, should be another showcase of the park.

“Steve Godfrey (Park Ranger of San Lee Park) and the county have always been really cooperative with us helping us put these races on,” Storm said.

The half marathon will start at 9 a.m. on March 16. There will be six race categories, male and female, 18-and-under, open and 40-and-over, with three award places plus awards to the overall male and overall female winners. The registration fee is $35 now or $40 on race day. There will be two aid stations with water and energy gels.

Runners can register on the Storm Endurance web site, www.stormendurance.com/ses/.

Mountain bikers can register at https://www.usacycling.org/register/2013-517.

Bouldergeist III will start Sunday at 10 a.m. Junior races, for ages 10-18, will be 5- or 10-mile races and the registration fee is $15 for those classes. The Youth Race, for 10-and-under, is a half-mile and free.

The Pro Men/Cat 1 race is set for 1 p.m. followed by the Cat 1 Women race. The top classes will race a 22-mile distance. Registration in for those classes is $35. The park gate and registration will open at 8 a.m. There’s an addition $10 fee for day-of registration on March 17.

More information on the Southern Classic Mountain Bike Series can be found at www.southernclassicmtb.org.