Recreation & Destinations

Release Your Inner Yeti At the Abominable Snow Race


Conquer snowy obstacles and indulge your inner child at the inaugural Abominable Snow Race, a competition that’s just like a Tough Mudder in the snow.

Chad Riffe (left) and Bill Wolfe assembled obstacles for the Abominable Snow Race, but the exact course remains a mystery until race day.

Chad Riffe (left) and Bill Wolfe assembled obstacles for the Abominable Snow Race, but the exact course remains a mystery until race day.

This January, expect a Yeti sighting in the unlikeliest of places. Crystal Lake’s inaugural Abominable Snow Race – think Tough Mudder in snow – takes over Veteran Acres Park on Jan. 30.

Chad Riffe, partner of event organizer ASR Events, says the Abominable Snow Race should exceed the expectations of adventure racers who want a new experience.

“People are looking for a challenge,” says Riffe. “Sure, a 5K or 10K run can be rewarding, but that’s all it is – it’s a run. People want more. Look at the popularity of ‘American Ninja Warrior.’ Personally, I love these types of races because they give us millennials and Gen X’ers a chance to be kids again.”

The race course moves through 24 winter-themed obstacles that have been scattered across a 3.5-mile route on Veteran Acres’ hills and valleys. The exact makeup and order of the obstacles will remain a mystery until race day.

“The Yeti is a very mysterious creature, so we wanted to bring that mystery to our event,” says Riffe. “The less you know about an obstacle course, the more challenging the event becomes.”

Racers won’t be completely in the dark. Snow and ice play a starring role on the course.

“There will be some sneak peeks here and there, which will be posted on our Facebook page,” says Riffe.

Event promoter Sue Dobbe says significant buzz is building for this unique event. She anticipates nearly 1,500 racers to turn out from Illinois and its surrounding states.

“It’s very attractive to obstacle racers who are looking for that edgy push,” says Dobbe, owner of Dobbe Marketing in Crystal Lake. “A lot of racers ramp down their training in the winter. Chad and co-coordinator Bill Wolfe wanted to give them something to do in what used to be their down time. This is a reason to stay in shape the entire year. There’s a network for these obstacle races, and the word is spreading. Everyone wants to be part of it. We already have participants from 15 states. This is a destination event.”

The Abominable Snow Race is more than a fitness competition for hardcore racers. In many ways, it’s designed to engage the McHenry County area during an otherwise quiet time of the year.

“Several obstacle races around the country have a smaller obstacle course that allows younger children to participate,” says Riffe. “Our Lil Yeti obstacle course is the only course in the country for children ages 4 to 12 that takes place in the winter time.”

There’s also the Abominable Hero Heat for first responders.

“The Abominable Hero Heat is a team event where five-member teams of police, fire, EMS or military personnel compete against one another for a special Hero Trophy,” Riffe says. “We created this heat because we wanted to do something special for the true American heroes.”

Proceeds from the event’s beer sales will be donated to TLS Veterans, a McHenry-based group that assists homeless veterans and veterans who need support services.

A Battle of the Bands competition, also hosted at Veteran Acres, promises to heat up the race day. The winning band receives $1,000 in cash and prizes.

“We wanted to give something back to this community, allowing their up-and-coming bands to come out and play some great music while competing against other bands,” Riffe says.

Come blizzard or thaw, event organizers promise a day full of snow, ice and fun. Are you excited Yeti?

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