COLUMBIA — A rare display of good weather set the scene at the Stadium Boulevard entrance to the MKT trail Saturday morning. Runners, walkers and cyclists alike waited in anticipation.
“Go!” yelled Columbia Parks and Recreation specialist Erin Carrillo, and American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day was off and running.
This year’s five kilometer run/walk and 10 kilometer bike ride kick-started the fourth annual celebration of National Trails Day put on by the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department. Despite competition with Saturday’s Art in the Park celebration, the trail events drew in about 40 participants.
“I thought it’d be a nice Saturday morning ride and it was free,” said cyclist Heather Guess, who attended the celebration for the first time.
Others, like Oscar Chavez and his family, were veterans of the event.
“It’s a race for which it’s easier to convince my children to come and run,” Chavez said.
Along with the bike ride and run, participants visited the Trailside Nature Expo at the Forum Nature Area. Booths lined the gravel path where various nature organizations educated a small crowd about ways to enjoy the outdoors from planting trees to exploring caves. Organizations represented at the expo included the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Columbia Audubon Society and the Treekeepers Program, which teaches tree management and volunteers in the community by planting trees.
“I appreciate that there’s so many opportunities to learn what you’ve never learned before,” said tree-keeper volunteer Clare Melick.
Though some participants came to the National Trails Day event to learn and some came to get out and exercise, fun was a common theme among all involved.
“It’s definitely something you should do because it’s a lot of fun running on the trails,” said Alex Chavez, who ran with his father in the five kilometer event. “Usually you see people that you know and everyone is really friendly.”