On the back trails of Hyland Park, nearly one hundred racers showed up for the Salomon Autumn Trail Series on September 14. The series consists of four 5K events every other Wednesday starting at the end of August and ending in the middle of October. Racers can sign up for one race or all four. This year is the 3rd year for the event and races were scheduled for August 31, September 14, September 28 and October 12.
The race director is Audrey Weber, a professional cross-country ski racer. She developed the race to help support her ski-racing career and to provide flexible working hours that didn’t interfere with her training schedule. At the time it was a unique idea. “I came up with it as a means of survival,” said Weber. “When I was starting my career as a racer, I needed to find a way to fund myself outside of just skiing in order to make ends meat.”
Audrey Weber raced for Dartmouth and graduated in 2009. She learned how to cross country ski when she was a toddler but did not have her first race until she was a sophomore at St. Louis Park High School. “I just loved it instantly,” said Weber, a H.S. record holder in track. “By my senior year I narrowed my focus to just completely cross country skiing. I decided that is what I love to do.”
Audrey Weber is working on qualify for the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi Russia. This season Audrey Weber is training to place in a national tour called the Super Tour. It begins in Yellowstone in November with one race every month and ending in April in Craftsbury, VT. Local supporters for Audrey can see her race in the tour when it comes to St. Paul on January 3. Her progress can be followed at www.audreyweber.com.
There are two races left in the trail series. Registration is $15 per race and can be paid on line or in person before the race. The race start is in the back parking lot of QBP on Hampshire Ave off Old Shakopee in Bloomington. More information is at www.autumntrailseries.com.
Weber designed the race to be competitive and fun for first time racers or world-class athletes. “We keep standings throughout the course of the series,” said Weber. “So at the end there are awards for people based on points you scored each race. But then we have lots of prizes for people for raffle. So it is fun whether you are the first or last or somewhere in between.”
“It’s a really fun evening event. You can come from work after a busy day and just unwind out on the trails.”