Feb. 28 marks another year of the annual Winter Wheezer race. Traditionally it has been a snowshoe and Nordic race at the Elk Valley Nordic Centre Trails but this year the event is also adding a fat bike category. The event is a winter biathlon, where participants can either race as a solo competitor or in a team of two.
This marks the events fifth year of operation.
“It started in 2012. We’d been organizing our main Tears & Gears since 2010, which is a run and bike mountain duathlon in September, and figured a winter version would be fun,” said Abi Moore, founder and organizer of the event. “Myself and Krista Turcasso started Tears & Gears in 2010. Together we do it all – it’s fun but a little hectic, especially in the days leading up to the races. Thankfully a lot of friends and family, and people we don’t yet know, step up to help volunteer to make race day a success.”
There are two different race options this year. Contestants can opt to snowshoe then cross-country ski – classic or skate – or choose to snowshoe then fat bike. There is no option to fat bike and cross-country ski this year, but the event organizers hope to make this a category in the future. The race organizers aim to make a laid back atmosphere where all skill levels are welcome.
“It’s a fun race for all levels. Very relaxed, and new this year we have fat biking as an option too,” said Moore.
Day of conditions can determine if snowshoes will be mandatory or if racers have the option to use trail shoes/ boots. Opting out of snowshoes is not just lighter and often faster, but depending on trail width could help reduce ankle injuries and increase traction.
Moore thanks the people and businesses that have helped to make the race successful.
“We have amazing sponsors for our races. Fernie businesses really step up,” said Moore, adding that there will be rewards for winners and participants.
The number of participants depends on weather according to Moore.
“It varies, and a lot depends on snow conditions. People register generally quite last minute, depending on the snow and temperatures,” said Moore. “Fingers crossed for more snow and good race conditions.”
Online registration is open to Feb. 27 through Zone4.ca. Morning registration will be at the warming hut of the Elk Valley Nordic Centre. Start, finish and transition zones will be at the trailhead of the race venue.