FAIRLEE, Vt. - By the third year of the Lake Morey Skate-athon in Fairlee, the number of skaters had grown from 35 to 235, making it a healthy fund-raiser for the Upper Valley Trails Alliance.
Then last year, warm weather dashed the event.
"While the [television] reporter was here talking about how the warm weather affected everyone's plans, a loon was sitting out on the water in the background," recalled Wally Elton, executive director of the Norwich-based group that promotes outdoor trails in the state's Upper Valley.
This year the fund-raiser is back, though it has moved operations, including its popular heated tent, from the northern end of the lake to Lake Morey Resort on the southern end.
Next Sunday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., skaters will have the opportunity to see how far they can go on the 3.3-mile track along the lake shore. In 2006, one skater reached 70 miles.
To keep folks fueled while they skate, the alliance is supplying free refreshments and lunch. Event partner Nordic Skater, a shop in Norwich that sells ski and skate equipment, will loan out free Nordic skates, engineered for a smoother ride over rougher ice, and give away discount coupons for new skates, said owner Jamie Hess.
Hess also offers Nordic skating workshops on the lake next Saturday and a one-lap race around the lake, called Ice Challenge, an hour before Sunday's main event.
"Although the Skate-athon has become a good fund-raiser for us, that's not the primary reason we do it," Elton said. "We do it because we want to see people outside. Part of our mission is to promote physical activity for the health benefits. Winter is seen by many as a challenging time."
Lake Morey Skate-athon, Lake Morey Resort, 1 Clubhouse Road, Fairlee, Vt. Jan. 20, 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Upper Valley Trails Alliance, 802-649-3939 (-9075), nordicskating.org/skateathon. Suggested donation $15 per person, $30 per family. Directions: Fairlee is 150 miles, or 2 1/2 hours, from Boston. Take Interstate 93 north to I-89 north (in Concord, N.H.) to I-91 north (in White River Junction, Vt.). Take exit 15 and turn left off exit ramp. Take the first right (granite Lake Morey Resort sign on corner). Follow the golf course (on left) and take the first left onto Clubhouse Road. The resort is on the right.