Event to raise funds for nature center
By Greg Seubert
Cassie Kottke hiked and ran on Mosquito Hill Nature Center’s trails while growing up in New London.
She’s now the driving force behind the inaugural Mosquito Hill Endurance Runs, set for Sunday, Aug. 7, at the center.
The event, a fundraiser for the center, will offer a 10K run or hike, a 25K run and a 50K run.
“I’m originally from the New London area,” said Kottke, owner of Stride Multisport, an endurance and personal training studio in Appleton.
“I’m an endurance runner and I’ve been doing events for years myself,” she said. “I realized when I talked to other endurance athletes in the Valley that a lot of people didn’t even know where Mosquito Hill was. The whole idea behind the run was to basically introduce it to a lot of people who didn’t even know the hill was there.”
Outagamie County operates the 430-acre nature center, located 2 miles east of New London off of County Trunk S at N3880 Rogers Road.
“First of all, it’s for awareness of the park,” Kottke said. “Secondly, it’s to hopefully benefit the park and get more people out there.”
The 50K run – about 31.1 miles – will get underway at 6:30 a.m., followed by the 25K run at 7 a.m. and the 10K run or hike at 7:30 a.m. All participants will follow the some course.
Athletes will have 10 hours to complete the course, according to Kottke.
“The race course is a 3.1-mile loop, or a 5K,” she said. “The 10Ks will do two laps, the 25Ks will do five laps and the 50Ks will do 10 laps.”
The course will be a challenge, as the route leads to the top of Mosquito Hill.
“What we’re going to do is have people switch directions on each loop so they get to experience the hill a couple different ways,” Kottke said. “Each lap means they will be going up and down the hill. We’re going to have two aid stations out on the course where athletes can get food and water. We’re going to offer a 10-hour course time limit, so that should allow everyone to be able to complete whatever distance they want, whether they’re running it or hiking it. We wanted to give people a lot of time so they can enjoy themselves out there and not feel rushed, especially if they’re taking on a distance they haven’t taken on before.”
Kottke said organizers decided to hold the event in August for a good reason.
“I wanted to give endurance athletes more options in August,” she said. “Currently, there aren’t a lot of races in August. We have a 25K event, which actually kind of falls on the perfect weekend for training for the Fox Cities Marathon.”
Marathons are 26.2 miles long, but some athletes prefer to take on even longer distances.
“They call it an ultramarathon when the distance is above 26.2 (miles),” Kottke said. “What we’ve seen in the last decade is a very huge growth in the ultramarathon distance: 50K, 50-mile, 100-mile and even beyond. Even though it’s one of those sports a lot of people don’t know about, there has definitely been a pretty big growth the last decade, which was kind of why we wanted to capitalize on that and offer that distance for those people interested in going beyond the marathon.”
The event is the first of its kind at Mosquito Hill.
“The only other race that I know of that has been held out at Mosquito Hill is the Warrior Princess Mud Run, a fundraiser for Harbor House,” Kottke said. “We kind of took their course a little, but we made some modifications to it to say this is a unique course.”
Athletes are encouraged to sign up in advance at www.runrace.net/findarace.php?id=16220WI. The cost is $35 for the 10K, $55 for the 25K and $70 for the 50K. All proceeds will benefit environmental programs at the nature center.
“We would definitely like people to sign up online,” Kottke said. “Registration closes Aug. 1 and basically, that’s going to guarantee them a T-shirt. If they did want to sign up on-site, I would ask that they e-mail me first and we could hook them up that way. They just wouldn’t be guaranteed a T-shirt.”
Each event will include up to 75 participants.
“Right now, we’re about half of that for each distance and we’ll get a lot of last-minute registrations,” Kottke said.
Kottke wants to use the event to get the word out about Mosquito Hill as a running or hiking destination.
“What I’m hoping is it’s going to be a challenge,” she said. “When it comes to ultramarathons, it will be a challenging course having to climb up that hill every time. It will definitely be a more difficult course than a lot of runners have ran before, but with a generous time limit, hopefully, it will be enough time for everyone to take their time.
“What I’m really hoping is that people become aware of how beautiful the nature center is,” she added. “We have the hill, which gives you really nice overlooks. There’s the meadows, the wetlands. It’s just a place that you can get a little bit of everything in a 3.1-mile course. I’m hoping people will leave there thinking, ‘That was really a pretty course, I’d definitely come back there and run and hike on my own.’”