Raced at the Lowes Creek County Park, Eau Claire, Wis., the Blast will include three trail distances of the 12.5 km loop including one, two, and four loops. Elevation gain per loop is 351 feet. Entering guarantees you an extra hour of sleep on that Saturday night as the clock “falls back” one hour, converting to Central Standard Time.
The very active members of The Chippewa Off Road Bike Association (CORBA) are hosting the USSSA Nationals after staging the Chippewa Valley Powder Keg snowshoe races since 2011. The group, organized in 2005, found its mission to develop the trails at Lowes Creek with thousands of hours spent creating this bike rider, runner, skier and snowshoer paradise. Since, the club developed the Red Flint Firecracker mountain bike race as part of the Wisconsin Off-Road (WORS) race series. Now including a trail run, this event has become one of the largest on the WOR docket.
Their mission allows them to work with the Eau Claire Parks & County Forest Department, Friends of Hickory Ridge, the City of Altoona and the City of Eau Claire in ongoing trail development.
Race Director, Laura Plummer, invites athletes to visit the race. “As the daylight gets shorter and the air takes a turn to the crispy side of warm, why not bring the trail running season to a close with a bang? This year, seize the chance to wrap your trail running season up with the Fall Back Blast” and become familiar with the lay-of-the-land for the Nationals. She describes “picking your poison” distance to experience “tight trails, tall pines, punchy climbs” along with a healthy portion of “roots and rocks.” No doubt USSSA Sports Director Mark Elmore will have special twists-and-turns for the championship competitors to endure, but in the meantime this race will offer a special preview of the terrain before it becomes white-washed with snow.
Plentiful aid stations, well-stocked, along with a welcoming, friendly group offering you a special technical shirt as a memento, wins as a formula for good times in the dirt.
Lowes Creek includes a variety of trails for every level of off-road enthusiast from beginner to advanced. The trails wrap five miles of double-track cross-country ski paths along with ten miles of technically challenging single track. The single-track trails take the rider to the corners of the park layout by winding through pine tree forests, crossing creek beds, and topping ridge lines. All trails at Lowes Creek are multi-use to accommodate these sports. The routes are open in the winter for fat tire bikes and snowshoers.
Getting there is easy. Follow I-94 to Eau Claire, exiting at US HWY 93 South. There are four exits; 93 South (No. 68) is the second for westbound traffic. Travel a short distance to Golf Road, turn right for 1.5 miles. At South Lowes Creek Road, go left. 1.5 miles later you arrive at the park’s entrance.
The Mayo Clinic Health Systems sponsor this event with their top-rated hospital on Whipple Street, two campus clinics on Bellinger Street and Clairemont Avenue along with an Express Care unit on Mall Drive. Mayo Clinics are celebrating “150 Years Serving Humanity” in 2014 with traveling displays, souvenir items, books like “The Doctors Mayo” along with Heritage Films featuring titles like “A Leap of Faith: The Founding of Saint Marys Hospital,” and “Healing Hands: The Sisters of St. Francis and May Clinic.” Another choice, “Mayo and the Mississippi: A Passion for the River” describes life on the Mississippi as the Mayo founders saw it.