Saranac Lake 3P will feature skiing, biking, running and paddling
By Mike Lynch
A frontcountry adventure race featuring a variety of outdoor activities is coming to Saranac Lake in early March.
The Saranac Lake 3P (pole/pedal/paddle) will consist of six legs over nearly 14 miles.
Participants will snowshoe or skin up Mount Pisgah and ski back down, Nordic ski at Dewey Mountain, paddle on the Saranac River, and bike and run between venues.
“People love the idea,” said Joe Williams, organizing committee member. “It’s just wacky enough … but also serious about showcasing some of the things that Saranac Lake has to offer that people are really proud of.”
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Founder and race director Scott McKim, of Gabriels, said he conceived the idea after doing a 3P style race in Colorado. That one featured backcountry skiing (poling), mountain biking (pedaling) and whitewater paddling.
“I got to thinking: Could I pull this off in Saranac Lake?” McKim said. “I’ve done things like this in Saranac Lake before, but never as an organized race.”
Excited about the prospects of a local event, he spearheaded an effort to create a nonprofit and an organizing committee to make it happen.
McKim said the race was designed to appeal to people of a wide range of skill levels. There are individual participants and relay teams that can have as many as six people on them.
“We wanted it to be approachable where anyone could feel like they could sign up if they knew other people were interested in joining,” he said. “We didn’t want this race to be elitist.”
As of Valentine’s Day, 23 individuals and 15 relay teams had signed up, for a total of more than 70 participants. The organizers plan to cap the race at about 100 people and will close registration on Sunday, Feb. 26. Participants must be at least 16 years old. The cost is $80 for individuals and $70 for each relay team member.
Any revenue from the race will be donated to Saranac Lake Innovative Cycling Kids (SLICK), a collection of mountain bikers who spearheaded the effort to create the Town of Harrietstown Bike Park near the Saranac Lake Civic Center. Each year going forward, organizers plan to donate money to a different local recreation-based interest that benefits youth.
The biggest challenge for relay teams has been finding paddlers to make the 2.3-mile trip from downtown to the Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club.
The stretch includes some fast moving water, especially through downtown to the Pine Street Bridge, but the route isn’t particularly challenging for experienced paddlers. However, water temperatures are likely to be in the 30s, so capsizing or falling overboard could be dangerous due to the risk of hypothermia.
As a result, paddlers will be required to wear PFDs to keep them afloat and safety boats will be set up along the course. Some paddlers may wear wet or dry suits.
Another challenge for organizers could be the weather. The March 4th date was specifically chosen because it is generally a time when the river is open and snow is still on the trails. But the snowpack is considered thinner than usual this winter due to unseasonably warm weather. Organizers are hoping for cold weather and snow in late February and early March.
If there is a warm spell, they may have to either adjust the route at Dewey, cancel that segment, or come up with another option. Pisgah also requires snow, but the venue has a deeper base due to their snowmaking capabilities.
“It’s a little challenging, but hopefully we’re going to pull it off,” Williams said. “We’re going to make sure we put on a really fun event, even if it doesn’t look exactly the way it was planned from day one.”
Either way, McKim said organizers are billing this as a community event as well as a race. He said people are welcome to show up at Mount Pisgah, starting around 11 or 11:30 a.m. for a post-event party with food and beverage.
More than 40 businesses and local organizations are providing support with donations and services, he said. Organizers are still welcoming additional volunteers.
“More than anything, we want to make this a fun event for the participants,” said Brian Greene, organizing committee member. “And just really show off what a great community we have here in Saranac Lake.”
One – Ski or snowshoe uphill to the top of Mount Pisgah, then ski down. 3,835 feet
Two – Bike to Dewey Mountain Recreation Center. 4.3 miles
Three – Nordic ski at Dewey Mountain. 3 miles
Four – Bike to Saranac River. 1.4 miles
Five – Paddle down the Saranac River to Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club. 2.3 miles
Six – Run to the finish line at Mount Pisgah. 1.8 miles
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