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  • Sheryl Sawyer

Buckle up, Haldimand!

So this is happening! We're on our way, you and me, to a marquee running event right here in Haldimand County! I'm currently working through the approvals process to bring a full complement of races, 5k, 10k, 21.1k, 42.2k, to the gorgeous Grand River in 2017.

Just take a look at that sunset! Beautiful, right? This scenery is commonplace to those of us who are lucky enough to call Haldimand County home. We want to share - so many city-dwellers so close to us who don't realize the gem that's a short drive away. We have so much to offer here - let's start with a top-drawer running event.

It won't be easy: nothing worth doing ever is, they say. And "they" are right - once the planning is done and we welcome runners to 'Race the Grand', we know we'll have converts to the sheer joy of running the river roads.

Our target date is May 12 and May 13, 2017. That's the Friday night and Saturday of Mother's Day weekend. Is Mom a runner? What better way to engage her running hobby than lacing up with her and taking it to the rural roads. On Friday night, we're planning a sunset 5k along the turtle ponds just outside the Dunnville core - at this time of year, the turtles love to bask on logs. They're a little shy, but you might just see one or two. Great Blue Herons often visit the ponds, munching on yummy pond life.

After an invigorating 5k, please enjoy our Dunnville hospitality with an all-you-can-eat pasta dinner for only $20 (tickets in advance). You'll then retire to one of our many B & B or motels to rest up for the Saturday races.

The full marathon route was chosen to maximize exposure of the beauty of the area. Starting at the shores of Lake Erie, runners will trot along the lakeshore until turning north to the river. Four miles away from the lake, runners will get their first glimpse of the mighty Grand River. They will thread their way along riverside roads, passing over the Grand at the newly finished bridge in Cayuga. Friendly Cayuga residents will cheer you on and replenish your fuel as you then make your way on the opposite shore toward Dunnville. The first half of the marathon is comprised of multiple rolling hills - but the good news is that the second half is ENTIRELY FLAT. As a river delta, Dunnville has nary a hill. You get to run into Dunnville on very level ground, a welcome respite as you finish your marathon.

The half marathon course begins in Cayuga, and follows the same winding riverside road (Highway 17) to Dunnville where they cross the same finish line. Gorgeous course, flat finish!

The 5k and 10k runners will do an out-and-back by the turtle ponds in the morning. Minimal traffic, some level trails and a solid dose of nature will restore your spirit to take with you long after the finish line.

Runners can choose to register for each race by itself or to pair the Sunset 5k with any of the Saturday races for a discount. You can run back-to-back 5ks - or make your Saturday more challenging with one of the longer distances. Stay tuned for pricing options as we move along this process.

We're also in secret negotiations for an AMAZING afterparty! We can't say much now, but you won't want to miss out.

And after all the racers have gone home, the Youth Impact Centre in Dunnville will benefit from race proceeds. Reaching out to at-risk youth, the Youth Impact Centre employs a caring staff and dedicated volunteers to make the Centre truly an oasis of safety and love for kids in the centre of Dunnville.

So, Haldimand County, buckle up for a fun ride! This is going to be an interesting year!

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