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Skiers of all ages are invited to take part in Rainbow Resort's cross country ski races Jan. 5. There will be competitions in Classic Nordic and Freestyle skiing, and the races are open to anyone, any ability and any age. For more information on the event, visit rainbowresort.com or call 218-734-2241. Submitted Photo

Ski over and 'find' Rainbow

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Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

If you can't beat the cold weather, throw on a coat, strap on some skis and join it -- that's what the folks at Rainbow Resort (located between Waubun and Itasca State Park) are saying as they prepare for the annual cross country ski races.

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The event is taking place Saturday, Jan. 5, at 10 a.m.

"We have three cross country ski events here at the resort, but this one is really fun because it's right after the New Year and people are ready for a new challenge," said Amy Xu, event coordinator, "and it just really focuses on heath and fitness."

The 20-kilometer race (or 12.42 miles) that goes around Little Bemidji Lake is called "Finding Rainbow" -- a play off the movie "Finding Nemo" as ski enthusiasts in the tri-state area search desperately for a place to ski.

The race will be split up into two categories -- Classic Nordic and Freestyle.

"Freestyle is more of a skate-style," said Xu, who says both are fairly easy for beginners to learn.

Although the event centers around an actual race where there will be avid skiers, Xu says there are also a lot of people who participate with a more relaxed attitude.

"You can push as hard as you want to or just enjoy the back country, and just go around the banks of the river -- it's just so pretty," said Xu, who says it's also easy on the body and good for the heart.

In fact, she says a lot of runners like to switch over to skiing in the winter to not only embrace what nature gives us in Minnesota, but to also give their bodies a break from the rigors of running or other types of exercise.

"You don't often see people in their 70s and 80s out there running because it's just too hard on their joints and everything else, but cross country skiing is so low impact that it truly can be a lifelong sport," said Xu, who says area running clubs actually make ski events like this one their yearly winter retreat.

She says the race is for everybody, every ability level, every age.

"We even see some real little ones, 3 years old with these cute, little skis," said Xu.

She also says people in this neck of the woods have a way of embracing the Nordic heritage that runs deep in the area, making the sport even more endearing.

And while she says it's easy to fall in love with cross-country skiing, skis aren't for everybody, which is why the resort also carries a line of snowshoes to rent.

"We have a winter wonderland here, and this year we are very fortunate to have a good amount of snow for the event," said Xu, referring to last year at this time when most of the ground was still brown.

"We haven't been running into too bad of weather, but classic skiers are OK with the cold anyway," she laughed.

Once the race is completed, participants can head indoors for door prizes and refreshments.

"We usually have cookies and coffee and cocoa -- things that can really warm you up again," said Xu.

The cost to join the race is $20 per skier ($7 for youth 15 years old and younger), and although she says participants do not have to stay at the resort to participate, there is usually "room at the inn."

For those interested in skiing the Finding Rainbow event, there is no need to call ahead, although Xu says it's a good idea to do so if a ski or snowshoe rental is needed.

For more information, log on to rainbowresort.com or call 218-734-2241.

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