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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Nowak: More running, biking events needed in area

  • I wonder how many different running and bicycling events that Leavenworth County and cities in the county can do in one year.
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  • I wonder how many different running and bicycling events that Leavenworth County and cities in the county can do in one year. Personally, I think that there is room for plenty more than we are already doing. For one thing, the county has a wondrous assortment of physical features, roads, trails, and sidewalks good enough for events. For example, the annual Buffalo Bill Century Ride in September covers routes that go as far as 100 miles and almost stay entirely in the county.
    The other routes do stay in the county and bicyclists get a real challenge riding our hills while enjoying our bucolic countryside. Speaking of hills, 20th Street is not even included on the bicycle ride, but it is for the annual Five Trails Half Marathon, a really well-loved running event which has been made even more popular by adding a 10K race to the day. Besides the great hills, the runners also get treated to historic neighborhoods as part of the event.
    Lansing does a really interesting running event that includes the historic prison campus. I mention these and other events because there is a need for activities and events that encourage people to get out and run and walk throughout the year. No one just runs or walks 10 miles or bicycles 100 miles on that one day; they train for it for months in advance and they likely get the itch to run, walk, and bike in numerous other events in the region.
    These kinds of activities generally keep people healthier than they would be if they did not do them. Some will overdo the training and get hurt, but once they figure out their limits, they generally avoid the injuries and enjoy the good health.
    Of course, running and bicycling are not the only events that keep people healthy. Swimming is great and so is soccer, volleyball, tennis, etc. No offense, but about the only activity that you do not see adults taking part in is football.
    We do not have a lot of the amenities around here that attract lots of visitors as they do in the mountains or on the coasts, but we do have some really nice geography that satisfies most people. Runners and bicyclists like challenging hills to conquer. Old historic neighborhoods and facilities also offer great venues that people enjoy. We have them, so we might as well take advantage of them.
    The major problem, of course, is that any event has to be organized, sponsored, funded, promoted, and insured and that takes a lot of effort and really needs to be done by people who know how to do event planning well. But we have witnessed the development of several great events in the last few years and some have been with us for more than 30 years. So I have confidence that we can develop more exciting events that will draw more people and provide even more excuses to get out and train all year.
    Page 2 of 2 - Some of the events also include or are specific to the kids. The City of Leavenworth has been doing a superb job of sponsoring kids' events like the Tryathlon and the Late Nights Under the Lights that they sponsor along with the Santa Fe Trail Bicycle and Coffee Shop.
    There are probably other events that you can think of. For example, how about a half-marathon that runs in the opposite direction of the Five Trails so that runners get to go uphill for one mile on 20th Street. This is not to challenge the Five Trails run, but to use an outstanding route that already exists and to bring in another event.
    Anyway, I don't think that we have reached saturation on how many events that we can have that encourage people to get out and exercise. You can probably think of more.
    Matt Nowak lives in Lansing and works as a natural resources manager.

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