Snowy obstacle course a neat way to enjoy the outdoors

The Abominable Snow Course in Rigaud offers something for every member of the family

The best advice for getting through our long winters is to find ways to have fun in the cold. Classic pastimes like skating, skiing, snowshoeing and tobogganing are quintessential highlights of our Canadian winter. But the annual Abominable Snow Course in Rigaud takes winter sports to a whole new level.

With challenges that include hauling an armload of firewood, stacking tires, scaling mini mountains made of snow and dragging Christmas trees, the snowy obstacle course is entertaining for spectators as well as participants.

This year’s 5.5 km race will be held on Jan. 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Rigaud’s Parc Chartier-De-Lotbinière, 5 Pagé St. In addition to the adult-oriented race, there is a 3 km Family Run, suitable for kids 8 and up (with a parent), as well as the Abomini, a 1.2 km version for kids aged 4-10.

Marc Bédard started organizing this event five years ago. At the time, he was working for his dad’s snow removal company, and realized the tractors and plows could help him build a unique race. “I was thinking about doing obstacle races for a long time, but I didn’t want to copy the most popular races,” Bédard said. “ I wanted to stand out,”

Each year the race is a little different, as Bédard invents challenging new obstacles. One of his favourite parts was introduced in last year’s adult race: rolling a pair of giant 200-pound dice he fashioned out of plywood. “I think it is the most original idea,” he said.

Obstacles in the children’s race include walking on a balance beam, crawling through a tunnel, hitting a target painted like a Yeti, rolling barrels, and zipping down an icy slide on a crazy carpet. To cross the finish line, children have to “fight” their way past a fearsome Yeti. “The Yetis are volunteers dressed in big white fur suits who try to block the kids with big foam rollers,” said Bédard. “They look kind of like white Teletubbies. The kids love it.”

Bédard makes little to no money from organizing the races, relying on his day job as a teacher to pay the bills. “I don’t do it for the money, I just do it because it’s a fun thing to do,” he said. “People love it. The whole family can participate.”

Although Bédard said the weather is usually kind to him on the weekend of the race,  the event will be held no matter what the forecast is. “It’s a winter obstacle course. Snow, rain, whatever, the show must go on,” he said. “There’s no cancelling it.”

A few hundred participants are expected to join in the race, and will bring with them friends and family to cheer them on. Refreshments including hot dogs, chips, water, coffee, tea and hot chocolate will be available for purchase.

Registration is required to participate, either online before January 18 or on the day of the race (cash only). Participation in the Abomini is $16, while the Family Run is $37 per adult and $22 per child. All participants will receive an Abominable Tuque and a participation medal at no extra cost. Parking is free.

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