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Friday, Sep. 21, 2018
Miners Mayhem participant turns organizer
by Randy Pascal

A five time participant in the Miner's Mayhem, Jessica Sheppard-Baxter was not about to sit idly by while the race she so cherished ground to a halt.

With former race organizer Donna Smrke unable to head up the event in 2017, Sheppard-Baxter would step forward, sharing the challenge with her assistant "Boot Camp" Director, Meg Seguin.

"My heart just felt so broken," noted Sheppard-Baxter, upon hearing the news that the uniquely Sudbury summer tradition might not reach year number six. "I felt sad for me, because I like doing the race, it's a lot of fun to run it."

"But I felt really sad for everyone in Sudbury who is expecting the race to be there, year after year. We met with Donna and from there, decided to step up and try this out."

Truthfully, her ascension to co-race director was a natural one. "I started off as a participant only," she recalled. "From there, my parents got involved, and so I would help set up the obstacles the day before the race, helping with whatever they needed. Last year, Meg and I ran the Boot Camps."

If the notion of a "Boot Camp" pre-requisite is enough to scare some people from the challenge, Sheppard-Baxter suggested they reconsider. "All different ages are able to do it, all different fitness levels can do it," she said.

"You need some sort of cardio vascular base, because you're going up that hill five or six times. But if you don't really care what your time is going to be, if you're just there for fun, walking it is fine."

"I would probably do a few hills (training)," Sheppard-Baxter continued. "That would be the most important aspect of it. If you absolutely cannot do an obstacle, we will provide an option. You can do "burpies" instead."

And if this daunting course seems too much to tackle on your own, the Mayhem has an answer for that. "When they started six years ago, I believe they had 200 participants," said Sheppard-Baxter. "Last year, we were up to 600 people. Half of that were team participants."

In fact, it is largely through the BioPed Team Challenge that the event is targeting an increase up to the 800 athlete level. "You have one timing chip for a group of five or less, and you have to finish the race all together," stated Sheppard-Baxter. "It's kind of a leave no miner behind sort of thing."

As for a preview of the course itself come June 17th, it seems that organizers are having some fun with the details. "There are 17 obstacles this year, the most ever," said Sheppard-Baxter. "The race is being held on June 17th 2017, so we figured seventeen in 17 would be fun."

"Some of the usual ones that people are used to will be there, and some new ones." The returnees include the Big Yellow Monster, a metal bar obstacle created in Sudbury that participants had to crawl across.

"It's probably going to make an appearance again," said Sheppard-Baxter. "That's probably the toughest one. The new ones, this year, I feel are pretty fair. They might look a bit daunting, but everyone should be able to do them."

And if your average weekend warrior has not yet been spurred on to take the leap of faith, Sheppard-Baxter does offer a few more words of encouragement. "I love the feeling at the end, finishing the challenge," she said. "You think back of all of the things you just did and think, "wow, I just did that!". And then you try and make your time even better, every year."

Entry into the 2017 Miner's Mayhem will be priced at $65, per participant, right through until May 28th, and $75 any time thereafter. Along with the standard t-shirt, "swag bag" and commemorative hard hat for the finishers, will be the Rich Griffin Spirit Award, presented to the team that exhibits the most excitement and enthusiasm on race day.

For further information, visit the race website at "www.theminersmayhem.com", or contact Sheppard-Baxter, via email, at "committee@theminersmayhem.com".

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