Wildwood Park will be the site of an annual sports festival with the inaugural event scheduled for August.
Randy DuTeau, the executive director of the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau announced Friday that the Wildwood Games sports festival will take place Aug. 23-24 at the park in Appling. it will feature marathon mountain bike races, trail running races and an outdoors expo.
“It’s going to be really neat,” DuTeau said of the festival.
This year’s festival is a precursor to the 2015 event which will feature the USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike Nationals.
“It’ll be a much smaller event this yea,” DuTeau said. “The most important element this year is to make sure the mountain bike race course is fit and works well for the national championships.”
This year’s mountain bike race will feature two distance options. The shorter 32-mile race will take place mainly on Bartram Trail from Wildwood park toward West Dam area and back.
The longer 62-mile option will use Bartram Trail, Keg Creek Trail, Mistletoe State park trails and some connector roads. That race will be a test run for the national championships to be held at Wildwood Park in 2015 and 2016.
The trail running races will use Bartram Trail in four distance options – 50 kilometers, 265.2 miles, 13.1 miles and 10 kilometers. An outdoors expo also is planned.
“This year, it’ll definitely be a regional event,” DuTeau said. “(Next year), it’ll definitely be a full-blown national event.”
DuTeau said registration information and a detailed schedule of events will be released in late April.
Next year’s event will feature the mountain biking national event, a distance open water swimming race, a disc golf tournament and an expanded expo with live entertainment.
“I want to go after events that will bring in folks and generate the economic impact,” DuTeau said. “At the same time, I think it will behoove us to use it as a platform to promote the venues themselves.”