Are you up for the challenge?

Inaugural fundraising race benefits SCV Lumberjacks

OAK PARK HEIGHTS — The St. Croix Valley’s inaugural race of wit, challenges and skill, Operation Valley Challenge, is about to take off.

The St. Croix Valley Lumberjacks Special Olympics Team hopes the Sept. 21 “Amazing Race”-style challenge is a success and helps raise funds for the upcoming year.

Teams of two to five persons can sign up for the 10-challenge event that takes teams through a variety of tasks. Two challenges are designed to give back to the community, one will be education-related, another is a physical exercise challenge, while another uses clues to find certain locations around Oak Park Heights. Other tasks included in the event could be feeding teammates food, doing something daring or competing in a game. Mazes, Tae Kwon Do lessons, holding a huge fish, Zumba and many other activities could also occur during the race.

“The course itself is designed to be finished in one-and-a-half to two hours,” said race organizer Brenda Pace. “It could take two to three hours depending on how long it will take certain people to do certain things. If someone fails at the events at first they can keep trying or take a pass on the event. But they’ll be penalized for it when they cross the finish line.”

Participants must get their clues signed off on as they go through the course. A missed task results in a 30-minute penalty added to their finishing time. So far Pace said 25 people have signed up for the event. Winners will receive prizes.

Some items of note:

  • Though the use of smartphones can’t be managed, the organizers believe that the course will be more fun if you use your personal smarts to solve the clues
  • Teams will get around by driving
  • Teams should bring a bag to hold clues and pens to solve the clues and map out their route.
  • Clues include physical challenges, brain teasers, and other challenges that include interaction with the general public, and maybe a food challenge.

The event starts at 10 a.m. in Brekke Park in Oak Park Heights and the course closes at 2 p.m.

“We will take registrations the day of, but the sooner that people can register the better because we only have so many shirts pre-ordered,” Pace said Monday. “We thought about increasing fees on the 12th to $21 but with less turnout for the race I think we may leave pre-registration costs at $16 so we can get more people out there.”

The registration cost includes a t-shirt that must be worn during the race, water, snacks and a race completion certificate. Those interested in participating can register at

One hundred percent of the race profits will go back to the St. Croix Valley Lumberjacks to help create grants and programs for participants throughout the next year.

“My son is involved in skiing, and fundraising like this allows him to ski for the season. Our partnership with Afton Alps includes lift tickets, equipment rental and we pay $20 all season with fundraising help.” Pace said. “Fundraising also allows us to get grants for the athletes uniform and fund other programs as well.”

As race day approaches, Pace says she’s really excited.

“I am really excited. We’ve done a lot of work for it,” she said. “It’ll be fun and people aren’t sure what to expect, so I think that makes them a little nervous but it will be fun once you get going. And we’ll hope for a good turnout next year as well.”

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]