Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Living Prairie Museum, home of the Lemming Loop

The goal of Living Prairie Museum is to provide awareness and
conservation of natural areas, specifically tall grass prairie,
through environmental education.

The Living Prairie Museum is the best kept secret in Winnipeg! It's a 30 acer tall grass prairie preserve that is accessed at 2795 Ness Avenue.  Its origin hails back to 1968 when the International Biological Program surveyed 60 Manitoba sites for native prairie plant communities. Ironically, the largest and most pristine of the lot was found nestled within a St. James residential neighbourhood. The City of Winnipeg established The Living Prairie Museum in 1976 largely due to the advocacy of then 87 year old Pete DeWet. Considering only 1/20 of 1% of original tall grass prairie remains, it is indeed a gem.

The Living Prairie Museum is the location of the much anticipated Lemming Loop trail run. Runners compete against the clock to see how many laps (loops) they can complete within their chosen times of 3, 6,12, or 24 hours. The Lemming Loop is brought to you by the good folks at  Trail Run Manitoba. The 24 hour runners start on October 2 and the 12, 6, and 3 hour runners start on October 3. I've signed up for the 6 hour event and hope to break the back of 50 km. Come join me!

A question for Trail Run Manitoba... Is the Lemming Loop named in honour of the dozens of lemmings that scurry along the trail or is it a comment on the lemming-like runners following one another in endless circles?  Only Dwayne Sandall knows for sure.

The old loop measures 1.6 miles, but Trail Run Manitoba has reconfigured the course to measure 2 miles. The new 2 mile course will ready for the 2015 event and will be posted shortly. I ran 13 loops of the old course last Sunday to get a feel for the terrain. There's very little elevation change, in fact it's as flat as ...umm... a prairie? 

The single track trail weaves through gorgeous patches of purplish (or it it more a rust tone?) tall grass. Spectacular indigenous plants of all colours and shapes ripple wave-like in the light breeze. There's dozens of off-shoot trails and without the expert guidance of ultra-marathoners Fiona, Bobbi, and Maria I surely would have lost my way in the maze.  

We transition off the grasslands onto a fairytale path through a forest dense with Poplar and Oak. Little Red Riding Hood would feel safe in these woods. The path winds hither and tither until once again we're back on the grasslands swimming through waist deep vegetation. We veer towards a grove of trees and follow this path, mindlessly, quietly, taking in the moment as though it were our last breath. We are struck with the sheer beauty of this moment.

We end the loop with a few glugs of water, a light bite, a little chit-chat. And we're off again, and again, and again, lemming-like.

To register go here, now. You know you want to.

It's a good day to be alive, running in endless circles.


PS... This just in from Dale Nesbitt of Trail Run Manitoba... The Lemming Loop refers to a try-a-trail race back near the beginning of Trail Run Manitoba where all the runners missed a turn and got lost. Some runners actually saw the sign which told them to turn, but instead chose to follow the runner in front of them. The TRM logo enshrines this ignoble moment in MB running history by depicting a lemming running away from the arrow.