The Freezer Food Series has come out of the darkness and into the light.
Last year’s maiden voyage of the running, biking and skiing races at Tsalteshi Trails was held at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. This year, the series moves to 2 p.m. Sundays.
“By making it happen during daylight we’re making it warmer and we’re hoping there’s more interest,” said Jordan Chilson, a board member of the Tsalteshi Trails Association. “It won’t be happening in the freezing cold and darkness.”
The goal of the series is to get as many community members out and active in the winter as possible. Last year, participants topped out at 18. Chilson said he’d be fine with that number again, but he’d also love to see more racers.
“Having it in the daylight will also give us more trail options,” Chilson said. “We’re hoping to host more events at the expanded Slikok trail system.”
The sequencing of running, biking and skiing will also have more structure this season. Sunday starts four weeks of running races. The first 5-kilometer run takes off from Skyview Middle School. Running shoes with studs or ice cleats are strongly recommended.
Four weeks of biking follow, then four weeks of skiing after that. The ski races naturally lead into the big citizen races like Tour of Tsalteshi, Tour of Anchorage and Kachemak Ski Marathon. Having the running races first also gives the trails time to get covered with snow.
“Last year, what we were doing each week was pretty haphazard,” Chilson said. “For the hardcore crowd wanting to ski or fat bike, they can block out that phase and continue doing it week after week.”
But more than hardcore racing, Chilson said the series is designed for participation.
“The whole idea is to do something fun outside, and have something in the winter to fill that gap,” he said.
Chilson said he also took inspiration from the Salmon Run Series in wanting to help a local nonprofit. The series encourages donations to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank with discounts. With a donation, each race is $5 for Tsalteshi Trails Association members and $10 for nonmembers. Without donation, the price jumps to $6 for members and $12 for nonmembers.
“We’re really trying to develop a relationship with the food bank,” Chilson said. “Greg Meyer, the new executive director, is excited to get his staff onboard.”
There will be registration at tsalteshi.org or starting at 1:30 p.m. Sundays. Race and course details will be released about five days before each race at Tsalteshi’s Facebook page.