For the second year in a row, fitness enthusiasts will line up at the Geer Memorial Park trail head on March 11 for the first of three foot races.
The Geer Park Trail Series was first organized last year by Megan Flesch and Michael Grajeda as a way to promote fitness and awareness of Cortez city parks. This year it will include three Saturday races a 3-mile race on March 11, a 4-mile race on April 1 and a 5-mile race on May 6, all of which will take place on the roughly 9 miles of dirt trails in Geer Park. All proceeds from the event will go to the Montezuma Land Conservancy.
“It’s a good reason to get out and use the trails that we have here,” Flesch said. “We also want to show community support for these outdoor areas.”
Geer is home to about 60 acres of mountain bike trails and hiking areas, and the city of Cortez, along with some town residents, has pushed to expand it over the past few years. In 2017, they hope to add a paved trail to access the lake in Geer Natural Area, which could open up a possible fishing spot.
In all three races, the first three male and female runners to cross the finish line will receive prizes, Flesch said, but there will also be a raffle for other prizes open to everyone who registers for the series. She said the races are open to people of all ages and all levels of ability, whether they’re competitive runners or leisurely joggers just out to have fun.
Last year, between 70 and 80 people participated in the three races. Flesch said she hopes to top that number this year, not only to raise more money, but also so that more people can get out and see Geer Park, which is one of several outdoor recreation spots in Montezuma County that could benefit from the funds.
Last year’s trail series raised about $700 for Montezuma Land Conservancy. In November, the nonprofit helped a Cortez resident get a conservation easement to permanently add 40 acres of his land, including bike and hiking trails, to Geer Park. Flesch said she hopes this year’s series will raise more money to make projects like that possible.
The races are being sponsored by Osprey Packs, Johnson Physical Therapy and Rehab, Kokopelli Bike and Board, Durango Running Co., Tuffy Security Products, Tailwind Nutrition and the city of Cortez, among others.
About 10 people have signed up for the first race. Participants can register on the day of the event, but only cash or check payments will be accepted.
Flesch said she and Grajeda decided to start the races a little later in the day this year, in hopes that the weather will be warm. They will also not be holding a race on Mother’s Day, as they did last year.
“We should be able to do this rain or shine,” Flesch said.