Xtreme score big in openers

Tyler Waugh Photo
Audra Repecka of the Hinton Shooting Stars U10 ringette squad makes a stick save during an Oct. 24 home game against St. Albert.

Tyler Waugh

Kennedy Davy scored eight goals and added two assists as the Hinton Xtreme U16 ringette squad started its season in style with a 15-6 win Oct. 24 over Leduc in Steve Hotchkiss Arena.

Kaydence Hollingsworth added three goals and three assists for the Xtreme, while Ella Kempin added two goals and one assist and Bryn Dammann and Alyssa Klaver each had one goal and two assists.

Emily French and Mikayla Ruszkowski had three assists each and Paige Pero, Logan Sweet and Ashlyn McDougall had one helper apiece.

Klaver led the way the next game with a four-goal, three-assist effort in a 14-8 win later that day. Ruszkowski and Hollingsworth both added two goals and two assists and Dammann and Davy both had two-goal games.

Ella Kempin and French had the other Hinton goals, while McDougall had two assists and Sweet and Pero had one each.

Gracey Kempin earned both wins in net for the Xtreme.

Davy sits atop the points leader board in the Black Gold Ringette League after the first weekend with two other teammates – Hollingsworth and Klaver – also in the top four. 

The Xtreme are back in action Nov. 7 with two games in Leduc.

Hinton Ringette returns to action

File photo

Tyler Waugh

Hinton Ringette returned to competitive play this past weekend, with two squads hosting action at Steve Hotchkiss Arena.

The U14 and U12 squads were both swept in their home doubleheaders, but Hinton Ringette Association president, Jason Sweet, says it was a big win just getting back into game action.

“All things considered, we should really feel lucky to be playing at all,” Sweet said, adding that while registration is down this season, there were still enough players to ice teams in four different age groups.

One of the big changes due to COVID this year are limits on the number of spectators allowed in the stands, with a limit of 20 people per viewing area in Steve Hotchkiss Arena for a total of 40 in all.

The U14 team kicked off the 2020-21 home schedule with a pair of losses to Spruce Grove on Oct. 17. Addison Klaver scored on the power play at 13:51 of the first period to even the score at 1-1 in the opening game, but Spruce Grove scored eight unanswered goals to build a 9-1 lead before Maggie Kempin scored again for Hinton in what was a 10-2 final.

Danica Walker and Ayla Goupil added assists for Hinton.

Hinton kept it much closer in Game 2 of the doubleheader with Maggie Kempin and Paityn Best scoring in the opening frame as Spruce Grove held just a 3-2 lead at the break. The visitors would score five of the next six goals in the second period to build an 8-3 lead before Leah Cournoyer scored her second of two goals in the period to make it an 8-4 final.

Walker and Best had two assists for Hinton and Klaver added one assist.

The U14 team hits the road to St. Albert this coming weekend for a pair of games Oct. 25.

The U12 team also got off to a tough start with a pair of home losses Oct. 18 to St. Albert. The visiting team came storming out of the gate in Game 1, scoring 10 goals in the first period to build a 10-1 lead. Hinton bounced back in the second period with a pair of goals from Halle Rushfeldt and one from Quinn Lepage. Ashtyn Rushfeldt had the first period goal for Hinton while Abi Delves had a pair of assists and Reece Batovanja, Tylre Walker and Lepage had one assist each in the 14-4 loss.

Similar to the U14 squad, the U12s were much more competitive in Game 2, though a slow start put them in a 6-1 deficit after the first period.

Hinton scored five of the next seven goals in the first half of the second period to pull to within two goals at 8-6, but St. Albert closed the door in the final 10 minutes and scored an insurance goal to make the final 9-6. 

Halle Rushfeldt had a hat-trick for Hinton, while Ashtyn Rushfeldt had a pair of goals and Lepage had the other goal for the home team. Abbey May and Walker added one assist each.

The U12 squad doesn’t play again until a pair of road games Nov. 7 in Spruce Grove.

Meanwhile, the Hinton U10 squad hosts St. Albert for a pair of games Oct. 24 to open their season. The front end of the doubleheader starts at 11 am and the second game is scheduled for 2:45 pm.

The Hinton U16 team also opens its season Oct. 24 at home with a pair of games against Leduc that are scheduled for 12:45 pm and 4:30 pm.

‘We caught fire at the right time’

Submitted Photo
Locals Glen Hansen (skip), Duane Wright (third), Shaughn Lalonde (second) and Brent Fellows (lead) show off their hardware after an improbable run this past weekend to a 2020 Alberta Men’s Club Championship Provincial Open title in Edmonton.

Tyler Waugh

Local foursome wins provincial curling banner

A Hinton rink skipped by Glen Hansen lost two of its first four games in Edmonton last weekend, but rebounded for an improbable five-win streak to a provincial curling  title.

Not bad for a foursome – which also includes third Duane Wright, second Shaughn Lalonde and lead Brent Fellows – whose only preparation was a few ends the night before at the local men’s night. 

“We didn’t go into it with a lot of expectations. I’m pretty sure Glen told his wife we’d probably be home Saturday,” said Wright, who is also president of the Hinton Curling Club.

“But we got to Sunday and we caught fire at the right time. We were curling really well, just making shot after shot.”

After being relegated to the C Event in the triple knockout format and on its last chance the team beat Slave Lake 8-3 and Calgary 6-4 to earn a berth in championship Sunday.

“That last game was all Glen, he made all his shots to get that win. He just didn’t miss,” Wright said, adding that Hansen’s experience at provincial and national championships also helped the squad throughout the weekend.

The Hinton rink was untouchable on championship Sunday, beating Vermilion 6-2 in seven ends in the quarterfinal and making short work of Saville Centre with a 7-1 rout in only four ends.

Hinton wrapped up its championship run with a convincing 7-1 win over Beaumont in seven ends.

“We knew we were curling really well but we were trying not to think about it. We sort of got hot, but we were still nervous. These were good teams and it was championship Sunday, so it was tense,” Wright said.

“When it was all over and we were celebrating it was unbelievable, we realized just how amazing that was.”

The provincial club championship process usually involves a number of qualifying tournaments around the province, but because of COVID the format changed and around 30 teams converged for the triple knockout tournament. The Hinton rink played nine games in three and a half days.

“It was a long haul with a lot of games,” Wright said.

Normally, the Hinton rink would now prep to represent Alberta at nationals, but that is cancelled this year due to COVID.

Wright said the squad will be getting the Team Alberta jackets. He said something else special is coming to Hinton in the form of a championship banner.

“They’re hard to get now, they don’t give them out for winning qualifying tournaments. It’ll be nice to hang another one at the Hinton Curling Club,” Wright said.

League play has begun at the Hinton Curling Club and the club is still accepting new teams with a prorated registration fee.

Ladies night is Tuesday, men’s night is Wednesday and mixed curling is featured on Thursday night. 

Seniors curling is Monday afternoon, followed by junior curling.

For more information about the Hinton Curling Club, or to register a team, please contact Duane Wright at (780) 817-1675.

Golf course asset acquisition agreement approved

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

Council approved the Asset Acquisition Agreement between the Town of Hinton and the Hinton Golf Society and directed Administration to proceed with establishing a one-year Operating Agreement with the Hinton Golf Society.

“This has been in the works for many months. Administration and the Society worked hard to get to this point. I think this year has gone exactly as we hoped, the society is doing better, the golf course is doing better, and we’re in a more certain place as far as the municipality so I’m pleased with where we are currently at,” stated Coun. Dewly Nelson during the regular council meeting on Oct. 6.

The golf course will be exchanging their assets for a waiver of their existing loan in the amount of $1,350,000, which is the outstanding amount owed to the Town as per the June 2017 Loan Agreement of $1,5000,000. 

The Town allocated $250,000 to the Society in 2019 to assist with 2020 operations, and the $235,000 expensed by the Society remains payable under the terms set out in the Asset Acquisition Agreement.

Based on current projections, the Society may be able to repay the additional allocation amount within four to six years.

“Having been on the board as councils’ representative, I’m very happy with some of the strategic planning they have and vision for the next year. I think it’s well thought out, not too much, it’s responsible and reasonable and will help protect the asset moving into the next year,” said Coun. Ryan Maguhn.

Upon the closing date, the Town will be responsible for several unbudgeted expenses until a new operating agreement is complete.

Those include a debenture payment of $15,000 per month, utilities between $1,348 and $2,000 per month, insurance of $22,000 per year, the security system of $40 per month, and asset maintenance between $0 and $15,000 per month.

A portion of these costs can be recuperated by charging them back to the operator in the form of an operating agreement, which will reduce the overall amount that is repaid annually with respect to repayment of the $235,000.

Due to the amount of funds still payable, a one-year Operating Agreement with the Hinton Golf Society effective between Oct. 31 this year and Oct. 31 in 2021 was established to determine if the repayment method is sustainable.

The remaining Society debt that is not associated with the Asset Acquisition is the Golf Cart Lease, approximately $75,000 in 2021 alone, which was included in the Acquisition Agreement as an exempt asset.

Coun. Maguhn asked whether the Town is appropriately positioned to offer the sole source to the Society or if a request for proposal (RFP) should go out.

“At this time, administration feels that sole sourcing is the appropriate course of action due to risk in maintenance to the asset and then the impact to the next golf season,” said CAO Emily Olsen.

Despite a tough summer for many local businesses and organizations, the Hinton Golf Club had a net income of more than $130,700 this year.

Expenses at the course include greens and fairways, administration, pro shop, golf carts, and food and beverage, which added up to $823,106.87 between November 2019 and September 2020. In that same time period, total revenue was $953,830.01.

“In the Last week or so that revenue number is looking more like $975,000. We’re trying to hit that million dollar mark here by the end of October,” said Kyle Crawford, director of the Hinton Golf Club during his presentation to council.

Due to the pandemic and the limitations on gatherings, the course missed out on revenue from building rentals this year, Crawford added.

Other revenue streams included memberships and leagues, green fees, golf carts, pro shop merchandise, driving range, club storage, equipment rentals, and food and liquor.

Profitable months included December, May, July, August, and September.

Memberships sold in December allowed for a net income of around $35,000, followed by several months of negative net incomes. Memberships were again being sold in May, allowing for the first profitable month of 2020.

“We had a net income of $118,000 [in May]. So we were just pretty much mirroring 2019 on the memberships, we sold about 187,000 this year, versus I think 189,000 in 2019,” Crawford said. 

June saw another negative net income due to some expenses that could have been pushed to July or been paid in May.

A substantial amount of work was done on the golf course this year, including bunker updates and the purchase of a new sprayer.

The old sprayer would have cost roughly $12,000 to $15,000 to fix. A new sprayer was quoted at $53K and bought for $46,916.

“Going with RCAP leasing, we saved the golf course about $5,600, just kind of maneuvering the lease and how it worked,” Crawford said.

In 2019, the course saw 12,000 rounds, while this past season had 21,000 rounds of golf, almost doubling the rounds. The majority of rounds, or just over 10,000 rounds were members of the public.

Key additions in 2021 include the addition of an assistant superintendent, Golf Course improvements, updated golf shop renovation, improved drainage, and landscaping of core area.

“Our maintenance staff is very small, especially for a golf course this size. We are going to add an assistant superintendent to work under our head superintendent for 2021, so there is going to be an increase in cost,” Crawford said.

The maintenance budget includes $25,000 in planned funds for course improvements and pro shop renovations, used to update the golf course and to maximize merchandise sales.

Drainage work on hole five started this year and will continue as it has caused a lot of problems in past years, as well as landscaping in around the clubhouse.

The projected budget in 2021 includes $1,198,3310.65 in revenue, leaving $81,695 in profit projected for 2021.

“We are in great financial shape this year to pay the $50,000 loan payment back and then also now moving forward until we pay it back. It’s going to be in the budget,” Crawford added.

He clarified that the big jump in projected 2021 memberships is solely due to talking with past members that were on edge this year but committed to purchasing a membership next year.

Crawford is hoping to create more corporate memberships and has talked to a few local companies in Hinton that were very open to the idea.

He hopes to see an increase in driving range revenue as well with an integrated driving range machine that will eliminate the token system.

The Hinton Golf Club is partnering up with an organization to provide access to a virtual golf machine, which will increase revenue during winter months. 

“Good season this year but we’re hoping for a better one next year,” Crawford concluded.

He responded to several questions from council, including that green fees will increase next year by $2 and memberships will increase by $50. He added that revenues and expenses are tracked daily and changes will be made to mitigate financial risks as they come up.

“It’s remarkable to see the work that’s been done this year in context of COVID and also in the sense that Mr. Crawford showed up remarkably late actually in the planning cycle for the upcoming season. I’m excited to see what him and the board can get done with this upcoming golf season ,” said Coun. Tyler Waugh.

Town Administration was first made aware of the Society’s financial challenges over the course of a two-year period from June of 2017 to June of 2019.

The Town entered into a Loan Agreement with the Society in June of 2017. A condition of this Agreement included the transfer of all Golf Course assets to the Town in the event of default on the loan payments. When the Society defaulted on their payment in 2019, the process of transferring assets to the Town began.

Conditions for the allocation of the $250,000 in late 2019 included the hiring of a Director of Golf to ensure adequate course management, financial oversight from Town Administration related to the use, and repayment of the $250,000.

Administration worked collaboratively with the Director of Golf and the Society to finalize all the components of the Asset Acquisition Agreement. 

Hinton hosts first pro disc golf tour event

Tyler Waugh Photo
The pro players were joined by amateur participants at the Foothills Disc Golf Challenge held Sept. 19 at the Hinton Disc Golf Course. Among the amateur  participants from around western Canada were locals like Isaac Cherry, who finished third in the junior under 15 division.

Tyler Waugh

The rain held off as more than 50 players – including 10 pros – competed in Hinton’s first sanctioned Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) event Sept. 19.

The Foothills Disc Golf Challenge has been a while in the making before making its debut as part of the North Woods Tour.

“It was amazing to be able to bring players of such high caliber to our course in Hinton. The tournament also attracted many intermediate and novice players from across the province, as word of mouth has spread about how unique and fun our course is,” said Tanya Nodder, who organized the event and was also part of the group who helped develop the course in Hinton.

“Pro players were really impressed with our technical, well-maintained course, especially considering it was designed and maintained by non professional disc golfers and volunteers.”

Nick Smith, a young professional disc golfer out of Edmonton, earned first place in the pro division with a score of nine under par over the course of two rounds, followed by Chad Gamelin of Sherwood Park, who finished with a total of  eight under par.

Local Matt Goodfellow earned second place in the advanced division, finishing four shots back of Andrew Noel of Edmonton with an eight over par. Hans van Klaveren earned second place in the men’s masters over 40 division, finishing six shots back with a 13 over par.

Other notable local finishes include John Duncan, who took first place in the novice division with a nine over par, and Isaac Cherry, who finished third in the junior under 15 division.

There was a Hinton Disc Golf Association event scheduled for Hinton earlier in the summer, but was postponed due to COVID. The PDGA approved tournament play again mid-summer and Nodder began taking steps to get the sanctioned event off the ground.

“Near the end of August I saw only one available weekend that didn’t have a tourney in our region, so I decided I would do it, and I quickly jumped on the last opportunity to request a PDGA tournament,” Nodder said, adding that there were approvals needed from the Town of Hinton and the PDGA.

“Once approvals were in place and I paid the sanctioning fee, it was just a matter of organizing the details, getting sponsors for prizes, and setting up the event page where players can find the tournament listed on the www.discgolfscene.com webpage and register online.”

COVID forced a couple of changes to protocol, including participants being required to sign a waiver, and also the move from a physical scorecard to online scoring.

“It worked very well, and had its challenges, mainly that many new players had never used it before, so there were some learning curves and lots of questions,” Nodder said.

“But in the end greatly saved time and manual calculations for scores and payouts.”

Nodder feels like this can become an annual event and that the inaugural competition provided some valuable feedback from participants, including the pros themselves.

One of the improvement suggestions was to cut a few more trees down off the fairway to create multiple lines out of the thickly treed areas where discs commonly land.

“Hitting trees is a theme on our course, but also creates a lot of fun when you get through! But this seems like a good suggestion,” said Nodder.

The other suggestion visiting had was the need for a designated parking lot. Expanding parking capacity is something the group is working on in partnership with the Town and the Hinton Mountain Bike Association.

Nodder reiterated that feedback was incredibly positive about the course.

“The course has been wonderfully maintained by the HDGA and volunteers this summer. With fairways raked, trails maintained, brush and grass trimmed, and the installation of the new teepads, the course looked great so there was nothing needed in preparation,” she said.

Nodder began playing disc golf in 2005 and started attending PDGA sanctioned events beginning in 2018. Besides organizing the sanctioned event on the weekend she also competed, finishing second in the ladies division.

Quiet summer leading to Oil Country Barrel Challenge

Masha Scheele Photo

Alexa Parker makes the turn during a barrel racing run at the Alberta Barrel Racing Association jackpot ride Aug. 19 at the Mary Reimer Rodeo Grounds. The grounds will host the annual Oil Country Barrel Challenge from Sept. 11-13.

Masha Scheele

Hinton’s rodeo grounds are usually busy each summer with weekly barrel racing jackpots, rodeo competitions, and people practicing their skills.

Alberta Barrel Racing Association (ABRA) and River Valley Riding Association (RVRA) both use the facilities for weekly events, but were shut down until the middle of July due to the pandemic.

ABRA was given permission to run a scaled down version of their regular jackpots, and are making sure to follow the provincial pandemic regulations.

“We’re limited to 100 people outdoors and that includes the spectators, judges, timers, etc.,” said Cathy Barber, who runs the ABRA jackpots at the Mary Reimer Arena.

Less people are attending the jackpots as well as participating. On an average night prior to the pandemic, about 15 adults would participate, whereas this summer their biggest night saw 10 adults, Barber explained.

The reason less people are entering could have something to do with the cancellation of the finals, she noted.

Members of ABRA have to run in a certain amount of jackpot events to qualify for the finals, which would have been held in Ponoka this year.

“They figured why should they buy a membership for [more than] $100 and ride all year and have nothing to ride towards,” Barber said.

Members can ride in any ABRA sanctioned event, which would count towards their qualification for finals. 

Adults have to ride nine events to qualify, while youth have to ride six. They don’t need to place in the events but must participate.

Each participant pays an entry fee, which is paid back to the riders at the end of the jackpot within three divisions.

“A group of girls originally started this 25 years ago, so everybody had a fair chance at barrel racing from beginner to novice up,” Barber said.

Finals would have been held at the end of August and generally sees 700 to 800 adults running, approximately 200 intermediates, and 100 peewees aged five to eight.

After the finals, ABRA normally hosts two jackpots in September and two in October, depending on the weather.

“Generally we quit after that because we don’t have an indoor arena. A lot of the girls may go to Edson, Edson quite often holds them in winter, not always,” Barber said.

While ABRA has been in the arena every other week, RVRA has been able to host a small barrel series, The River Valley Summer Series.

“It’s been a quiet season for us at RVRA. We cancelled our auction in April and our annual rodeo in July,” said Shauna Cruden, a member of RVRA.

As a board, RVRA decided to allow no outside bookings such as weddings due to COVID-19 as well.

“Aside from that we have Oil Country Barrel Challenge coming up and the arena has been used for open riding,” Cruden added.

Hinton’s biggest barrel racing event, the Oil Country Barrel Challenge, will be limited to 150 entries this year. The limited entries will ensure the number of contestants, spectators, and grounds crew stay below restriction limits.

Two members of the local River Valley Riding Association (RVRA) started the Oil Country Barrel Challenge nine years ago.

The event quickly became known for its big payouts and nice prizes as both aspects go over and above what is normally seen at a jackpot race event. 

However, this year there will be no short go and slot races or prizes due to the current pandemic and economic circumstances, according to the RVRA Facebook page.

Instead of slot races on Friday, there will be “Time Only” runs from 2 pm until 8 pm.

A 3D format for barrel racing is used for the event, allowing riders at any level to compete.

The 2020 Oil Country Barrel Challenge runs from Sept. 11 to 13 at the Mary Reimer Memorial Park in Hinton. For more information, go to Oil Country Barrel Challenge on Facebook.

Sweet shot drops for ace

Tyler Waugh

Jason Sweet joked with his Industrial League teammates on the Putt Pirates that he didn’t like the par three Hole 17 because he was always between clubs for the 113 yard tee shot.

The solution? Just hit the 56 degree wedge thin – that’s how Sweet scored his first-ever hole in one during league play on Aug. 18.

“I definitely hit it thin and it flew low,” said Sweet afterward.

The hole was a blue pin and the team didn’t see the ball roll in after it rolled over a ridge toward the back of the green.

“We lost sight of the ball. I was surprised it didn’t roll all the way off the back,” Sweet said.

The group didn’t realize the ball was in the hole until they got up to the green. They found a ball mark they think was Sweet’s about 12 feet from the pin.

The hole in one was witnessed by teammates Colton Boutin, Tyler Hore, Brett Cieslikowski, Ray Brazeau and Dan Wambolt. The crew went for beer and wings after to mark the occasion – the drinks were on Sweet as is tradition.

Bighorn Trail will have three downhill options

Photo by Aaron Jones
Bighorn trail

Masha Scheele

The Bighorn Trail will not just be made into one loop to the ridge and down, but will have three different downhill options.

Two are being cleared by West Fraser and professional trail builder Jay Hoots, while another downhill trail is being built by the Hinton Mountain Bike Association (HMBA) and contractor Nathan Froehler of Creating Flow Trail Designs.

HMBA raised funds to build a downhill trail starting part way up the Bighorn uphill trail.

“We opted for a flow trail. They have really good dirt out there and enough elevation and the right kind of grade planned out that will make for a fun roller coaster type trail,” said Froehler.

The 1.2 kilometre blue-rated flow trail will have an elevation of 100m with jumps and berms and is completely machine built with a mini excavator.

Many volunteers have helped out and community sponsors have donated tools, fuel, and offered great rates on machinery rentals.

“It’s been a real community effort. It’s been tough making things happen but people come together and make it work,” said Froehler.

Froehler was born and raised in Hinton and spent a lot of time building and maintaining trails in the area, including the Halloween Trail behind Hinton and at the Nordic Centre.

He explained that there are basically two mountain bike trails; tech trails and flow trails.

A flow trail is generally a smooth dirt surface, with not a lot of rocks or roots like a tech trail would have.

While it’s a bit of a climb to get up there, most people with a general fitness level can do it, Froehler said.

“It’s a really nice climb they’re building right now. Hoots is building that climb trail to the top of Bighorn, which is an average grade of five per cent or something so it’s quite a mellow climb but it will still take a bit of work,” Froehler said.

The blue downhill flow trail is great for intermediate mountain bikers but can be adaptable for many skill levels, including advanced riders, Froehler said.

Froehler’s downhill trail is expected to be finished by the end of the season and should be ready by the fall.

“It won’t be until the end of the season but we should be good to go,” Froehler said.

West Fraser finished the first downhill portion from the Bighorn ridge last year, including a small portion of the uphill trail.

The uphill portion is now halfway completed and West Fraser, who is funding that project, hopes to complete the uphill portion this year.

The uphill trail will be 11 kilometres to the Bighorn ridge, followed by the five-kilometre downhill trail.

The project includes a price tag of $500,000 and is being built by the nine member Vancouver-based Hoots Bike Parks crew.

The Hoots crew has also been busy with other projects throughout the summer, but are expected to be back at work in Hinton this season.

The few crew members working right now bike their way up to the worksite each day, but the public isn’t allowed on the trail quite yet.

With machinery and equipment left on the trail, Aaron Jones, management forester of West Fraser, explained that they have to be careful with the public going on unfinished trails and into active worksites.

Kiosks, signage, garbage cans, tables, and other finishing touches also still need to be put up.

Jones added that there could be a possible soft opening this year depending on whether any portions can be opened to the public.

West Fraser’s second downhill trail is slightly less technical than the original downhill trail.

This trail is expected to be finished by the end of this year and will provide a 10-kilometre loop, starting part way on the Bighorn uphill trail as well.

Other future plans by West Fraser include building a trail all along the Bighorn Ridge and connecting the epic Bighorn trail to town trails.

Jones explained that while there is a trail along the ridge, it’s not currently ideal for mountain biking.

HMA debuts redesigned motocross track

Masha Scheele Photo
Ryker Meyer hit the Hinton Motorcycle Association (HMA) track Aug. 8 The HMA is located on Hwy. 40 south.

Masha Scheele

The Hinton Motorcycle Association (HMA) spent the past weeks rebuilding, cleaning up, and redesigning the main motocross track.

The longer and faster track opened on Aug. 8, ready to host races after being brought up to motocross race standards with all the proper safety features.

The outdoor dirt track is located along Hwy. 40 south. Lap times on this improved track will be closer to two minutes, which is an increase from what it used to be at just above one minute, said Cody Newman, HMA’s facilities director.

“It’s a faster track now, so we sped it up. It’s actually a longer track but it’s also faster so that the flow of the track is really good,” Newman said.

All new jumps have been added and a different layout. The last race held on the HMA motocross track was roughly 12 years ago, said Newman. The kids track was also completely redesigned recently.

“There have always been lots of kids, usually families will come out there,” Newman said.

Most years, HMA hosted family nights on Wednesdays but it never kicked off this year due to the pandemic. At one point they had 40 to 50 people during a family night.

Last year, HMA also didn’t host many family nights due to the unusually high amount of water throughout the summer months.

The track suffered due to all the rain last year, but HMA has been working on better drainage, which seems to be working well. Besides drainage, the track just needed some updating, upkeep and groundwork.

HMA received a lot of help through donations from companies and individuals to get the track to its current state.

Memberships have also been selling fast this year, which helped out the association with the upgrades as well. Memberships help the association maintain, cut, and clean up trails through the bush.

More people seem to be purchasing a motorbike this year, Newman noted, and those people are now looking to use them while they have the time. The COVID-19 pandemic is keeping more people closer to home, who are looking to recreate locally.

Although the track generally doesn’t have too many bikers out at a time, HMA is trying to limit the track to 15 people at one time.

Individuals who are buying memberships are made aware of the precautions surrounding the pandemic, but HMA hasn’t had any issues. Newman believes the size of the lease where the track is located would technically allow 50 people at one time currently.

The area currently offers something for three different skill sets through their kids track, off road track and motocross track. The nonprofit society is run completely through volunteers and has been around for more than 30 years.

For interested riders, a season pass allows full access to the track with some expected rules. Day passes are also available, but must be accompanied by a season pass member.

To volunteer or check for track updates, go to Hinton Motorcycle Association on Facebook or buy a membership on their website: hintonmotorcycleassociation.ca

Matthew Worobey trying out the new and improved track on Aug. 8.

Run In The Rockies to go virtual for 2020 event

Allison Rutley photo

Masha Scheele

Due to COVID-19, most big events had to be cancelled but the Hinton Run in the Rockies is going virtual for 2020

Organizers ditched the registration fees and to keep things simple they decided against sending out race packages.

“We just want people to get out and experience the Hinton trails,” said Matt Davies, one of the board members and organizers.

Between Sept. 12 and Sept. 20, runners can take on 5km, 10km, or the half-marathon on their own time. The course will be set up similar to last year on the Hinton trails and organizers plan to flag the course by mid-August.

“If you don’t want to do our courses you can go out and do a trail of your choice on the Hinton trails, that’s the format this year,” Davies said.

Davies added that runners don’t need to track their race but some proof that they ran the trails must be provided.

“If you don’t have a GPS watch, we’re not going to fault you for that. We just want to have people out there experiencing the trails. But we do require some sort of proof, so a GPS file or just a photo of you on the trail. Something to show you completed the distance,” Davies said.

Those who completed their distance will be entered into a draw for door prizes since race times can’t be accurately tracked.

Organizers hope to support local businesses through buying prizes locally.

Maps of the Run in the Rockies tracks will be posted online and organizers hope to also put together a GoPro video of the different courses for people to physically be able to see it as well.

Guided tours will also be offered for people who want to do the course but aren’t comfortable on the trails by themselves.

Anyone can join two of the board members to run the race, while staying at a safe distance from them. Back in April, the group already decided they would attempt a virtual event.

As they watched other big races cancel or postpone their events, they knew the race wouldn’t be going ahead as normal. 

They discussed registration, fees, and mailing a package with shirts and medals, but realized it was complicated.

They simplified the event just to get people out and enjoying the trails.

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The Hinton Run In The Rockies was formed in 2011 and last year the race attracted almost 300 participants.

Last year local Shaughn Lalonde edged out Mario Rauber to finish first in the half marathon, while Chance Basaraba, Riley Beauchamp and Brenden Hunt finished first through third in the 10km event.