Git yer hooves on the trail and STAMPEDE!    

“This is the first year the Western Days Stampede is going to be held on the Lost Creek Hiking Trail,” related Bluff Country Hiking Club (BCHC) member Jennifer Bradt, “and it’s the 21st Stampede.  The 10K and two-mile race proceeds benefit the Chatfield cross-country team. Cross-country races are run on grass and trails, so the switch to the trail will truly be a cross-country event. Road racers are searching for bigger challenges, and the Lost Creek Hiking Trail will certainly provide plenty of hills, water crossings and beautiful scenery.”

Race organizer Chris Frye pointed out, “Trail races are becoming more popular.  There are lots of road races, so we thought this might offer a nice change of pace among area races.” 

The Stampede, set this year for Saturday, Aug. 8, is a chance for Western Days celebrants to hoof it on their favorite local hiking trail and possibly even earn some recognition and small prizes, too.  Frye explained, “There will be separate team awards for the two-mile and 10K races, so if a team runs in both races, they can qualify for awards in each race.  Awards for the winners of the team and individual races will be horseshoe trophies, with medals going to the top three finishers in all age groups.  There is also a free one-mile fun run/walk that will begin and end in Groen Park but not be on the trail.”        

Bradt outlined the race’s details, beginning with that “anyone can register and participate in the event. There will be a team portion in which four people will run the total length of the race, then add their times for their team total. Participants will be able to run in both races, however, those who do will need to complete the 10K in less than 90 minutes. There is special recognition and a prize to those who can complete the 10K trail race in under one hour.  In the past, I have had rocks that Beth Clarke painted with glow-in-the-dark paint that say ‘Official Member of the 1-Hour Club,’ and there will be age group and team awards.”

Bradt has advice for Stampede participants, as the trail poses some different challenges than does the usual route.  “For runners who are not used to trail running, it may be a good idea to run out on the trail to get used to the terrain.  Also, it has been a rainy July and the trail has some muddy areas, so would recommend not wearing brand new shoes, and bug spray is a good idea.”  The Stampede is on unless the sky becomes electrified.  “We will have to delay if there is lightning.  If the water crossings are high enough that the bridges are not able to be used, the course will be altered for safety.  Otherwise, yes, it’s on, rain or shine, hot or cold.”  

Transportation to the Ninebark Road trailhead of the Lost Creek Hiking Trail for the 10K and to Magnum Road for the two-mile run is courtesy of Bernard Bus Company.   Bradt suggested that anyone driving to reach the bus departure point at Groen Park at 7:45 a.m. for the 10K and at approximately 9:30 for the two-mile run should try to park on River or Bench streets since the parking lot at Groen Park will be occupied with the finish line and Mill Creek Park will be busy with horse events.  “The official start time is 8 a.m. for the 10K – the two-mile will start shortly after 9:30, as the bus will leave Groen Park at that time, bound for the starting line on Magnum Road.  There will be extra direction out on the course and water available as well – three for the 10K and one for the two-mile.”  

Bradt summed up the reasons to join the Stampede and hoof it on the Lost Creek Hiking Trail.  “This is a terrific community event.  The trail is challenging, and for those who have not had the opportunity to run or hike the length of the trail, this is an excellent opportunity to do so. I encourage those who would like to hike the event to enter the race.  This is a community event and a great way to enjoy the beauty of our corner of Minnesota.”

The 21st annual Chatfield Western Days Stampede is set to begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8.  To register, log onto  Registration cost details will be listed for individual registration with and without a t-shirt and for family or team registration for either run.  Frye noted that “there is also same-day registration opening at 7 a.m. in Groen Park, but advance registration is strongly recommended.”