An eight-hour cycling race will test riders’ grit and endurance as they pedal through the Haliburton Forest Sept. 18.

The 8 Hours of Hurtin in Haliburton’ race began in 2019 and has attracted more and more riders each year who test their limits on the 27 kilometre gravel course. The idea is simple: complete as many laps of the scenic forest route as you can in eight hours.

“It’s just something unique compared to other places in Ontario,” said event organizer Marc Sinclair. “It’s fast and slow, it’s got beautiful vistas, lakes: tons of climbing to keep your legs hurting!”

It’s open to riders of all skill levels: some just want to compete a lap or two while others ride the whole eight hours.

Last year, one competitor completed eight laps or 216 kilometres.

“It’s a huge feat. But that’s part of the challenge: people really want to push themselves,” Sinclair said. “It’s super flexible and you’re not committed to a point-to-point race where you have to get rescued if you’re unable to make it to the finish line.”

Cyclists can also compete in a relay system, each taking turns speeding through the gravel roads lap after lap.

After completing the marathon, camping options are available with food vendors being announced in the coming weeks.

Sinclair said gravel cycling has become very popular with all types of cycling popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Registration has been very strong,” Sinclair said. “It’s hard to tell if that’s a boom in cycling or if that’s just interest in the race.”

Since the event is outside, COVID-19 guidelines will be easy to accommodate and Sinclair doesn’t expect issues with attendance limits.

This year, they’re starting an electronic timing system to account for the increase in participants.

It’s a gruelling challenge, but as the event website states, no more so than an eighthour work shift: “it’s easier than a day in the office.”

Registration closes on Sept. 4. For more information or to register visit valleyworks.ca.

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