June 5, 2015
Contact: Vickie Carson
Contact: Helen Siewers
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., June 5, 2015 – Adventure and free fun await you at Mammoth Cave National Park, on Sunday, June 21, when the Park, Friends of Mammoth Cave, and Forever Resorts/Mammoth Cave Hotel will host the Longest Day of Play and a new event – the Mammothon.
"For those up for a challenge, we are offering events from dawn to dark, including the Mammothon," said Superintendent Sarah Craighead. "The Mammothon is the only triathlon that features not only the usual hike and bike ride above ground, but a two-mile hike underground. Let me emphasize this is not a race, but opportunity to get out and have fun – and it's a great way to celebrate Father's Day."
In addition to regularly scheduled cave tours and hikes, the Friends have organized a 5:30 a.m. birding walk. In the afternoon, free activities include the Sand Cave Almanac at 1 p.m., and the Heritage Walk at 3:45 p.m., which meet at the Visitor Center. The campfire program at the amphitheatre begins at 7:30p.m. After the sun sets on the longest day of the year, the Western Kentucky University Astronomy Club will share their knowledge of the night sky at 9:00 p.m. in the bus loop near the Visitor Center. Cave tour fees apply;all of the events above are free.
Mammothon participants (limited to 120 people) may sign up online at eventbrite.com, and find more information at www.facebook.com/MammothFriends, or call 270-758-2152. Individual participants may order event t-shirts and other Friends' merchandise at www.FriendsofMammothCave.myshopify.com.
The Mammothon begins at 8:15 a.m. at the Friends' tent in the parking area near the Mammoth Cave Hotel. Participants may park their cars and secure their bikes nearby. On this route:
1. A ranger leads the Mammothon participants down the hill to the Historic Entrance and through the 2-mile cave walk.
2. Upon leaving the cave, participants are on their own to hike two miles along trails to River Styx Spring, Echo River Spring, Sinkhole Trail, and back to the Friends' tent and their bikes. The route will be marked.
3. In the final leg, participants are on their own to ride their own bikes along the compacted-gravel Mammoth Cave RR Bike &Hike Trail. The Friends and Forever Resorts will provide rest stops at several locations along the 10-mile route (one way), including Diamond Caverns and The Grand Victorian Inn (the restored Mentz Hotel in Park City). Road cyclists can use the paved Mammoth Cave Parkway to ride the same distance to Park City and back.
"After the success of the 2015 Pedal for the Park in Cave City, we look forward to this special event in the Park and Park City," said Helen Siewers, executive director of the Friends of Mammoth Cave. "This event encourages healthy lifestyles through the fitness and recreation opportunities available at Mammoth Cave National Park and in the surrounding region."
Forever Resorts/Mammoth Cave Hotel has healthy menu options and special Mammothon grab bags for sale – at a reduced rate in honor of the Longest Day of Play. The Bowling Green Community Farmer's Market will provide local, fresh snacks at a rest stop. Nat's Outdoor Sports, as well as Caveland attractions, will provide discount coupons to Mammothon participants.
"The entire Mammothon route – the cave, the trails through the woods, and the bike ride out to Park City and back – is 24 miles," said Craighead. "It is almost a marathon. We hope this will be the first of many Mammothons, promoting lifelong fitness through outdoor recreation."
The Mammothon is the brain-child of Ranger Colleen Olson. "The Mammothon is a physical challenge – but that makes it a goal worth working toward," said Olson. "If you are generally healthy and can handle steps, hills and uneven terrain, the Mammothon may be for you. You can begin conditioning now by walking and/or biking several times a week. Start slow and work your way up."
"Hiking and biking are not only fun and great exercise, but being active in the outdoors has benefits beyond those we get at the gym," Olson added. "Studies show that hiking outdoors makes us smarter and more creative, and that nature increases the cells in our bodies that protect us from infection and cancer. Exercising outdoors improves our attention span, and walking in the woods relieves stress."
"Remember, Mammoth Cave National Park is a wild place," said Craighead. "Off trail, visitors may encounter poisonous snakes, poison ivy, and ticks. On the trails, there are hills to climb and the terrain may be uneven in some places. Be aware of your surroundings so you can safely enjoy the Longest Day of Play."