Challenge Yourself to Dream Big
An electronics company Controller, an IT Director, and a farmer walk into a coffee shop with a group of swimmers… Sounds like the start to a really weird joke, right? Actually, it is the start of a great story, something big, something that would test our ability to stretch outside our comfort zone, it was the beginning of making dreams a reality; it was the start of The Storm Trail Race Series.
One cold and rainy Saturday in March of 2019, Mandy and others from the Winona Master Swim group met for coffee at Mugby Junction after their morning swim. I had planned my long run for that day to end about when they would be there so I could join them. As usual, my sanity was questioned as I explained I was training for the Zumbro 100 mile Endurance Run in April. Mandy’s friend, Steve, was very interested in what Mandy and I do as trail runners and what types of trails we liked and where we run. As we talked, Steve asked what it would take to host an event on his farm. We talked for quite a while and Steve invited us out to the farm to take a tour.
In April, we took Steve up on his offer and got our first glimpse of the beautiful setting deep in Cedar Valley. Mandy and I started our brainstorming on the whats, ifs and hows of pulling together our own event. After a lot of discussion, Mandy and I decided we would do something that’s been one Mandy’s dreams that we’ve talked about for a long time; we would start our own race business.
We decided that we wanted to do more than host a race but we wanted to give back and do something positive for the community and soon The Storm Trail Race Series was a reality. We had a clear mission; create events that were accessible to everyone of all abilities but still offered challenges that were rewarding to complete. We would use that forum to give back to the community by providing education on youth mental health and fundraising to support organizations that offer help and services to youth and the families affected by mental health issues.
April, May and June were all about exploring the farm, race logistics, paperwork and all the things that it takes to start up a new business. We created the course maps and after many hours of clearing trees, bushwhacking through deer paths, wading though and weed eating waist deep nettle grass, the new trails were built and Storm the Farm was born.
After the inaugural Storm the Farm, we received such positive feedback and generous donations that we started plans for a fall race that would allow us to realize another one of Mandy’s dreams which was an off road duathlon. We put our plan in motion and Storm the Bluffs became a reality.
Along with our smaller “pop up” events like Storm the Stairs and Storm Thanksgiving, we have raised more than $3,300 for local organizations. We are planning more events to make The Storm Trail Race Series a year long series of running and biking events that welcome everyone.
This story started with a dream, a few curious questions, a lot of hard work and the willingness to go outside our comfort zone. We challenged ourselves and continue to challenge ourselves to create and put on events that offer the best of the SE Minnesota trails while offering something new and fresh for everyone.
I want to challenge all of you to dream big, step out of your comfort zone to chase those dreams, experience something new and learn a little more about yourselves. You never know what you’ll find!