Participants experience nature, challenge endurance levels
By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN -- Longleaf pines, cypress domes, strand swamps and more than 50 protected species or plants and animals will be the back drop and scenery for an endurance race in Sebastian.
The spring edition of the Wild Sebastian 100 ultra trail event is scheduled to be April 13 and 14 on a 25-mile loop in the south section of the St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park. The race will begin at 7 a.m. and conclude at 2 p.m. the following day for a total of 32 hours of racing time.
In addition to the long-distance race, planned activities for non-racers include guided walks through the state park, kayaking on the St. Sebastian River and boat tours.
This will be the third Wild 100 event in the county directed by Mike and Kristen Beck of Florida Outdoor Center.
Mr. Beck has previously participated in other 100 mile races in other parts of the country, including the Florida Keys. The long races are difficult to find in Florida, so he decided to create one that would highlight some of the treasures of his own town.
"We're about getting people outside and active," Mrs. Beck said. "Participants will be educated on the types of animals that are in the habitats individuals will run through."
This year's emphasis is on gopher tortoises and saw palmettos and will be featured on the commemorative T-shirts each racer receives on registration.
The entry fee varies based on date registered and the amount of miles expected to be accomplished. The fee breakdown is available online.
The funds raised at the event will go toward youth scholarships for summer camp with Florida Outdoor Center and projects at the preserve, such as trail maintenance.
The race course does not actually have to be completed at a running pace, Mr. Beck said.
"We encourage people to come out here and walk the 25 miles. With the 32 hours, that's definitely doable," he said.
Last fall, 96 people registered for the event and the word of the event is spreading with quite a few of this year's registrants from out of state, Mr. Beck said.
"There's a crazy group of runners, a whole group of runners that just like to run long distances," he said.
"People are talking about this race and saying how challenging it is even though it's Florida and how it's very well- marked," Mr. Beck said.
Though there aren't hills, there are sandy places and rougher patches, making it a little challenging.
Some long distance races are just out in the open and it can be very easy to get off course, which isn't the goal in the Sebastian race at all, he said.
"As the race continues to grow, more and more people will be exposed to the wonderful natural beauty of Indian River County and understand that it is possible to co-exist with it all," Mrs. Beck said.
To register for the event, or for more information, call (772) 202-0220 or visit www.wildsebastian100.com.