Door County’s silent-sports scene is quieter than usual on the race front, with most annual events on pause for 2020, but that shouldn’t stop you from experiencing some of the same courses on your own time. Race or no race, this summer is the perfect time to lace up, suit up, strap in or grab your paddle for a silent – and socially distanced – sport. Some races are still being held virtually, encouraging participants to complete an event on their own, and other canceled events have made course information available to those who are still motivated to run or ride where the event would have been held.
A July Fourth 5K Tradition
The annual Hairpin 5K Walk and Run is the longest-running 5K event in the county and is normally held on July Fourth morning in Fish Creek. The race, named after a hairpin turn on the course, is typically run along the highway through Fish Creek, but this year participants are encouraged to complete the run or walk elsewhere, wherever they choose.
“The best place to complete a 5K in Door County or near your location is a place that you and your family are the most comfortable running or walking,” said Vinni Chomeau, the Hairpin 5K’s race director and a Friends of Gibraltar board member. “Maybe it is a trail or a favorite quiet road that you love.”
The race began more than 30 years ago, with the Friends of Gibraltar organization stepping in to host it during the early 1980s, and the group wasn’t going to let a pandemic put a stop to the tradition – especially because each year the event’s proceeds provide all of the funding for field trips and enrichment experiences for students in grades K-12 at Gibraltar Schools.
“This next school year, one of the specific things Friends of Gibraltar will use Hairpin 5K funds for is expanding an outdoor-education program for all Gibraltar elementary students with The Ridges Sanctuary,” Chomeau said. “In this program, all students participate in outdoor education on a regular basis.”
Runners and walkers can still sign up online at hairpinrun.com to participate in the virtual race and run or walk the distance before July 5.
Triathletes Encouraged to “Finish the Race”
Silent-sports enthusiasts and triathletes are also finding new ways to keep motivated after the Door County Triathlon was canceled in May.
Deb Neuville, a local triathlete and board member of the Door County Triathlon, stays motivated by going on weekly group cycling rides, competing with her own times on Strava (a time- and course-tracking app), and getting her grandkids involved.
“There’s a couple of good things that come out of this,” Neuville said. “Families have become a lot closer with more quality time together. And, the bike shops are busier now than ever. People are getting more active and getting outside.”
Race organizers are encouraging would-be Door County Triathlon participants to “finish the race” by swimming, biking and running the official course on their own. It will be marked for athletes to navigate through the end of August. A swim buoy is set up in Murphy Park in Egg Harbor to enable Sprint triathletes to do a single beach-to-buoy-to-boat-launch 0.25-mile course, or to allow Half Iron triathletes to do a three-loop (0.4 miles times three) route to achieve a 1.2-mile swim.
Triathletes are also invited to attend triathlon training days being held six times throughout the summer. Sean Ryan, Door County Triathlon race director, partnered with the local nonprofit myTeam Triumph (mTT) to help facilitate the training events and fundraise for mTT. Funds raised will go toward providing specialized race equipment, facilitating training runs and lending race-day support to people of diverse abilities.
Triathlon training-day participants must be self-supported but can use the offshore swim-turn buoy along with painted turn arrows on the bike and run courses. At the finish, participants will receive a swim cap and 2020 Door County Tri tee.
“It is quite inspiring to do the course,” said Neuville, who completed the Sprint course on June 27. “You can almost hear the crowd out on the course cheering your name and ringing cowbells.” There are four training days left: July 11 and 18, and August 1 and 15. Visit doorcountytriathlon.com to review course maps and find out more about the training days.
Summer Training for the Door County Half Marathon
For the first time in 13 years, the Door County Half Marathon and 5K will take place in the fall instead of the spring. The races are usually held during the first weekend in May, which forces runners to do their training during the cold late-winter and early-spring months.
During that time of year, training runs on the actual half-marathon course are not generally an option because many of the course roads in Peninsula State Park are heavily shaded and often covered with lingering snow and ice. This year, however, with the race rescheduled to Oct. 31, runners can take advantage of training on the roads and hills that they’ll be facing on race day.
Carrie Baldwin, a local event planner, was training to run her first half marathon this spring to fundraise for the Sue Baldwin Foundation, a charitable organization she founded to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of her mother beating breast cancer.
“Once the virus hit, things changed fast. I went from training and working to homeschooling kindergarten and second grade and postponing weddings,” Baldwin said. “I have not jumped back into training – yet – but I will be ramping back up soon with some of my favorite running buddies! Once we start our three-month training plan later this summer, I know my confidence will be boosted.”
Enjoy the Wide-Open Spaces on the Water
Instead of staying on land, this season is a great time to take advantage of the hundreds of miles of shoreline and waters around the peninsula. Water sports such as kayaking and paddleboarding keep participants socially distanced naturally.
Even so, Dave Rack at Door County Kayak Tours has taken extra steps to ensure that visitors feel safe when joining a kayak tour by adding additional cleaning and distancing protocols this season.
“We are sanitizing life jackets and keeping everyone distanced,” Rack said, “and once you’re on the water – even with how busy Cave Point can be – it’s still quite spacious.”
Experienced guides take visitors to popular sights along the shoreline, such as near Door Bluff County Park, Whitefish Dunes and Cave Point County Park. The tours are perfect for recreational kayakers, groups, families and those who are unfamiliar with Door County’s waters.
Kayak and paddleboard rentals are also available, although Rack stresses that those who want to kayak or paddleboard independently should be familiar with water safety and rescue practices. And when conditions are not ideal for getting out on the water, Rack has added a fleet of fat-tire e-bikes, which gives riders easy access to get around the area and to see Cave Point from land.
Whether it’s through biking, paddling, running or swimming, the season for silent sports is here and full of safely distanced opportunities to explore Door County with your friends and family.