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Runners, bikers, paddlers battle elements

Steve Griffith, a Moraine Adventure Relay first-timer, pushes through the final bit of his section of the relay at Purple Woods Conservation Area. Griffith finished the 19-kilometre section in under an hour.

Steve Griffith, a Moraine Adventure Relay first-timer, pushes through the final bit of his section of the relay at Purple Woods Conservation Area. Griffith finished the 19-kilometre section in under an hour.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

When preparing for a morning jog, all a runner needs to do is peek out the window – if the clouds are clear, they are good to go.

However, when you are looking at a stretch of 160 kilometres, it can be hard to judge how the weather will be in the next township, and the participants in the Moraine Adventure Relay on Saturday learned that the hard way.

Hosted by the Oak Ridges Trail Association, the 10th anniversary of the Moraine Adventure Relay, which stretches the entirety of the Oak Ridges Moraine, was overall a success, despite a bit of dicey weather at the start.

Kicking off in Gore’s Landing along Rice Lake, rain greeted those at the starting gate, as well as a few checkpoints along the way. With the threat of storms on the horizon, ORTA volunteer Dani Shaw said contingency plans were being put in place for racers in case lightning started to strike.

With competitive racers on the course looking to score the best time, riders were to be held back if lightning was spotted, but without any time penalties.

“Luckily, most of the bad weather held off,” Shaw said following the event. “After a rainy start at checkpoint number one, the weather gods were nice to us.”

The race was divided into 14 sections of varying lengths, spanning from Gore’s Landing in the east to King City in the west. With the exception of a two-person canoe section, each leg is completed by a single team member with teams made up of 15 members.

Along with hundreds of participants, hundreds of volunteers were on hand to help ensure the relay went off without a hitch.

“Everyone was organized and coordinated so well. On top of everything, there was a palpable positivity in the air created by all the smiling faces and supportive teammates,” Shaw says.

With checkpoints dotted across the moraine, Oshawa’s checkpoint was located at the Purple Woods Conservation area and was part of the biking portion of the relay and saw cyclists roll into the parking lot after a 19-kilometre stretch.

The event is ORTA’s annual fundraising initiative, with all proceeds from team entrance fees and sponsorships going toward the moraine in the form of improved signage along trails, boardwalks, parking lots and maintenance equipment.

The Oak Ridges Moraine is the longest of its kind in Canada, provides drinking water to 250,000 people and is along one of the longest green corridors in southern Ontario.