The poor and unsafe ice conditions on Sylvan Lake have resulted in the Speed Skating Ice Marathon being shifted to the Red Deer Speed Skating Oval on Feb. 22.
Brian McArthur, a member of the Foothills Speed Skating Marathon Association, said the ice was not safe enough for the equipment to clear a skating track.
McArthur said the race distances have also been shortened to accommodate the smaller ice surface.
There will no longer be 100-km or 50-km distances. Racers will now choose from the five km, 10 km or 25 km races.
McArthur said the oval will work well as a substitute because many of the local speed skaters have been training on the surface this winter.
He hopes the new location will give the skating race more exposure. The event has been hosted in Sylvan Lake for a decade and is very popular with the Dutch community.
“We think there will be a few less this year but because we are in the city more people may come out,” said McArthur.
“We hope to have about 70 skaters.”
The marathons and the mini festival will get underway around 10 a.m. with the 5-km race followed by the 10-km race at 11 a.m. and the 25-km race at 1 p.m.
Skaters can register by paying $10 for a single distance and $20 for all three distances. There’s a form on the website and skaters can register on race day.
“They don’t have to be an expert skater,” said McArthur. “They have to be willing to come out and participate. We want to encourage anybody and everybody to come out and give it a try even on hockey skates.”
McArthur said the event is simply a love of skating and winter. Ponoka Family Meats will be serving up some Dutch eats.
Skating fans are also invited to stay for the kortbaan sprints and sled races following the marathon.
The Red Deer Oval is located at the Golden Circle, at 4501 47A Ave.
For more information, visit www.sylvanlakeicemarathon.com.