Tykes on bikes

“The Mountain Sports Festival presented by RBC Centura is a chance for die-hard bikers, runners, river rats, climbers and mountain adventurers of all sorts to come together and revel in their sport,” explains Children’s Committee Chair Julie Corey. That includes young adventurers who are just beginning to discover the joys of organized outdoor activities. “Hopefully, we’ll expose a few people to something new and pique the interest of the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts.”

And the involvement of Asheville’s Parks and Recreation Department in this year’s festival means the emphasis on the next generation is stronger than ever. Corey, who worked closely with city staffer Katy Palombi, says stressing the kid theme in the overall MSF scheme was a no-brainer. “Children have so much energy and natural enthusiasm for the outdoors,” she observes. “All we have to do is provide the exposure to the world of fun that mountain sports provide and the means for them to participate.”

This year’s festival features a full complement of adventure-based activities and competitions for kids, including the Food Lion SkatePark Mayhem, a Kids’ Climbing Carnival and a Bike Rodeo. Children will also do their part by teaming up with their parents in the Family Duathlon held at French Broad River Park IV. Kids will compete in two stages of the foot-and-bike race, while their parents tackle the remaining leg.

At the Iron Kid Challenge, children will choose four or five events from a list of offerings including a 1k time trial run, soccer kick, disc golf contest, long jump, timed wall climb, hoops, and putt-putt. “Participants will have a scorecard that they’ll bring to each event and hand in when they complete the circuit,” Corey explains. At the end of the festival, awards will be given to the top finishers in various age groups.

But city staff and MSF volunteers also stress that age doesn’t need to be a limiting factor when it comes to enjoying the outdoors. “I don’t think people ever outgrow the fun of playing outside,” Corey exclaims. “We’re fortunate to be in a part of the country where our playground is the amazing trails, forests and rivers that surround us.”

For more info on MSF children’s activities, call Julie Corey at 236-1662 or visit the festival Web site (www.mountainsportsfestival.com).

Family Duathlon

The Family Duathlon features a run/bike/run format. Kids compete in two stages of the race, while parents anchor the remaining stage. Here’s the info on the various divisions: Kids 7-9/parent (half-mile run, 1.5-mile bike, half-mile run); kids 10-12/parent (1-mile run, 2-mile bike, 1-mile run); kids 13-14/parent (1.5-mile run, 3-mile bike, 1.5-mile run).

Directions

French Broad River Park IV is located on Amboy Road off 1-240 (exit 1C) in West Asheville. From downtown: Take Hwy. 25 south (Biltmore Avenue) to the intersection of Swannanoa River Road and Meadow Road. Turn right on Meadow Road and drive about one mile. At the first traffic light, turn left, cross the river, and continue on Amboy Road (DON’T turn in at the park entrance on the right!). French Broad River Park IV is farther down Amboy Road on the left.

Registration

2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 9 at French Broad River Park IV. $35 per team. Call 253-3714 (e-mail: montford@ashevillenc.gov).

Iron Kid Challenge

This multi-sport competition held at the Festival Village will be ongoing during festival hours. Participants in different age categories compete in assorted fun events. All participants who finish the contest will receive a coupon for a free drink.

• Wall Climb

• Disc Golf

• Soccer Kick

• Long Jump

• 1K Time Trial

• Basketball Shoot

• Mini Golf

Food Lion SkatePark Mayhem

The skateboard competition on Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. is geared toward boarders of all levels. The timed runs will be judged for style, number of tricks, use of the course and degree of difficulty in beginner, intermediate and advanced divisions.

Directions

The 17,000-square-foot Food Lion SkatePark is located a few blocks northwest of the Festival Village. It runs along Cherry Street between Broadway and Flint Street on the fringe of downtown Asheville, just north of Interstate 240 at the edge of Montford and down the hill from the Asheville Civic Center.

Awards

The top three finishers in each category will receive awards.

Kids’ Climbing Carnival

This timed competition for young climbers (up to age 14) happens Friday, May 7 from 4-6 p.m. at the Montford Climbing Center (for directions, see “Climbing” Events Box). Belayers will be on hand to manage the ropes. Prizes and T-shirts will be presented to all registered climbers.

Directions

The Montford Community Center (253-3714) is at 34 Pearson Drive in Montford. To get there, take the Montford Avenue exit off Interstate 240. Travel north on Montford Avenue (away from downtown). At the first traffic light, turn left on Chestnut Street (you’ll see a sign for the Montford complex). At the stop sign at the bottom of the hill, turn left onto Pearson Drive. The building will be on the left.

Registration

Registration for the competition is $15 per person (through May 5), $20 per person May 6-7. For advance registration, visit the Montford Community Center between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. any day of the week (including Sunday). On race day, check-in/registration starts at 9 a.m.

Bike Rodeo

Happens Saturday, May 8, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Sunday, May 9 at 2 p.m. in the Festival Village. Kids of all ages will show off their biking skills as they maneuver through either a “challenge” or a “non-challenge” course. Register at the event.

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