NEW BRITAIN - Walnut Hill Park will be busy Saturday with the second annual Connecticut Outdoor Challenge.
The COC is an international inline and quad roller skating event. Race director Marvin Bowe sees the event as a great way to get the area interested in skating again.
“We compete all across the country on a regular basis, but it’s like we are everywhere but here,” Bowe said. “I’m bringing it back to New England. It used to be big here a long time ago, like 20 years ago or so. But it’s kind of died down here, while taking off everywhere else, like Virginia and New York.”
The Challenge will consist of a variety of different races, starting with a 5K meant for beginning skaters. Following that, there will be a 10K for advanced racers, as well as full and half marathons for “elite skaters,” according to Bowe.
The COC will also hold a new event this year, the Skate for a Cure 3K Mini Skate/Walk. The event was created by Bowe in honor of his mom, Patricia Robinson, who passed away in February with dementia.
“I definitely wanted to give her a ‘thank you’ and do something in her honor,” Bowe said. “I think this is a great way of doing that.”
As part of the special event, skaters will be able to donate money or purchase “Skate for a Cure” T-shirts for $20, with all proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Association to research for a cure.
The event will conclude with a one-lap spring around the park.
Bowe said the event was a huge success last year and expects it to be even bigger this year.
“Last year, we had about 50 commitments,” Bowe said. “This year I hope to double that. We also have people coming from as far south as Florida and as far north as Canada to compete. It goes to show you how big the sport is now.”
Bowe is on a mission to get the northeast, especially New Britain, interested in the sport again.
“My main goal is to get the local community involved,” Bowe said. “I want to get the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club involved. My hope is to have more workshops and instructional classes in the winter as well. That way, we can continue to grow the sport around here.”
The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with registration being held from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.
Tyler Roaix can be reached at troaix@ centralctcommunications.com