MCMINNVILLE – McMinnville leaders are planning a new kind of adventure race – part triathlon and part scavenger hunt – that aims to highlight the variety of outdoor activities available in their community.
The McMinnville Mountain Crawl, a three-leg caving, biking and kayaking race, generated quick interest when it was announced last week. Organizers are hoping for at least 100 participants when the event debuts Saturday, Sept. 12.
The race starts at Cumberland Caverns, where participants will embark on a one-mile scavenger hunt to locate an exclusive item from the deep dirt of the cave’s Ten Acre Room. From there, they’ll bike 8.4 miles to McMinnville’s Pepper Branch Park. Then, they’ll kayak 1.5 miles down the Barren Fork River to the home base of Smooth Rapids, a kayak and tube rental company that’s partnering with the McMinnville-Warren County Chamber of Commerce and Cumberland Caverns to sponsor the event.
“The idea, overall, is to raise the visibility of our community and all there is to do outdoors.” – Mandy Eller
When Mandy Eller, president at the chamber, first took up her position in December, she wanted an event that would play up the city of McMinnville and Cumberland Caverns’ recent designation as adventure tourism districts by the state of Tennessee. Triathlons are popular and are a good draw for tourists, she said, but McMinnville already plays host to an annual swim, run and bike race – this year’s is being held Aug. 15.
“I wanted the next chamber event to be unique; something that couldn’t be replicated in any town,” Eller told the UCBJ. “The idea (for the Mountain Crawl) actually occurred to me over coffee one cold February morning. I let it brew for a couple of months to work out the details and how the chamber and tourism businesses could work together. When I approached Smooth Rapids and Cumberland Caverns in April to see what they thought, they were instantly very excited. The Mountain Crawl was born.”
Eller says the goal is for at least 100 participants, between individual racers and teams of three. The event is expected to be a great draw for both locals and out-of-towners. The Smooth Rapids site has camping space available, and the grand prize – awarded to both the first place individual and winning team – is tickets to Steve Earle’s performance at Bluegrass Underground, scheduled for the next day at Cumberland Caverns, Sunday, Sept. 13.
In addition, Smooth Rapids will host the post-race party, which includes entertainment, awards, food, and beverages. The business, which started in 2012, is also hosting Reggae on the River, a two-day camping, music and kayaking event, Aug. 15.
“They recently acquired 9 acres on the Barren Fork River, and they’re going to be opening an outfitters store there,” Eller said. “They’re hoping to have it finished and ready by race day, so it will be a nice debut for them, too.
“The idea, overall, is to raise the visibility of our community and all there is to do outdoors,” Eller added. “It’s also about engaging our community. I think a lot of people who live here haven’t ever been to the cave, and this is one way to get them interested and on the water enjoying our rivers.”
Early registration for the Mountain Crawl is open until Aug. 31 for $100. Late registration is $125. Visit www.reg2run.com/index.php/event_details/68 or www.facebook.com/mountaincrawl for more information. Kayak and camping reservations are available at www.smoothrapids.com, while bikes can be reserved at www.moabbikes.com.
Organizers are also looking for sponsors of the inaugural event. Levels range from $500 to $100.