Exercise Science Club to boost 2018 Abominable Snow Race

Tony Calderala

Tony Calderala

For people who find it fun to run a foot race up, over and down a snow-covered mountain in Wisconsin, here’s some good news: the annual Abominable Snow Race takes place Saturday.

“No Skis, No Dogs, No Sleds,” its Facebook page boldly proclaims. “This race is just you, 5 Snowy Miles, 20+ Obstacles, and the Abominable weather.”

Dubbed “The Midwest’s Premier Winter Obstacle Race,” the event beckons up to 2,700 runners of all stripes to the Grand Geneva Ski Resort to tap into their “inner Yeti.”

Members of NIU’s Exercise Science Club will join them.

Tony Calderala, an academic advisor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, has arranged for at least 12 students to volunteer at the Base Camp.

“We’re going to put some cool-down and warm-up things together to teach people who want to get better as athletes,” Calderala says. “We’ve designed a pegboard challenge for people to go up, over and down so we can, ‘How good of an athlete are you? What do you want to accomplish?’ We’ll also do a couple competitions on stage.”

Each volunteer will receive a free entry pass to the 2019 race, he adds.

asr-logoBut the more valuable rewards will come from the professional connections students can make in Lake Geneva as well as the behind-the-scenes look at the organization of a large sporting event.

“Some are looking for networking opportunities. Gym owners are there. Obstacle Course Racing is getting bigger, and now there are gyms dedicated to training people in Obstacle Course Racing,” Calderala says.

“A couple students are interested in the management side, wanting to see what it’s like to own and operate your own event,” he adds. “Others are interested in the sport itself, in learning about it, especially if they’ve never seen it for themselves.”

Calderala, who runs obstacle courses as a spare-time hobby, is making this happen through his acquaintance with Abominable Snow Race owner Bill Wolfe. He also is a former workout buddy with Tom Abraham, the course designer.

“I talked to Bill and said, ‘Do you want any help? I can bring some students,’ ” Calderala says. “Bill has been looking to work with a university here in northern Illinois or in southern Wisconsin to develop a partnership to expand this beyond the one race.”

Possibilities for the future included posting college students as “course marshals” who monitor the racers in the “elite” heats as they attempt to qualify for larger obstacle events, such as the Tough Mudder.

Students also can provide physical training on the course, demonstrate good form or offer encouragement in the way of cheering.

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