By Joe King, [email protected]

ijams hikeathonAt the start of March, Ijams Nature Center launched their second annual Hike-a-Thon as a means of collecting pledge benefits. But with the lingering end of winter sticking its chilling claws across the area, Ijams has only collected about 20 percent of what they did last year.

“We think the weather has been a major factor,” said Ijams Rental Coordinator Jenny Newby. “We had more activities planned than last year, but we think the cold may have scared hikers away.”

Last year, the first time Ijams held the event, about 110 people participated and nearly $10,000 was raised. This year that number was diminished to about 30 participants and only $2,000 raised.

Newby said Ijams is considering possibly moving the event to a warmer month and recalibrating activities to draw more participation.

“We are trying to pinpoint how to reach more people,” she said.

But there is still a chance for hikers to support Ijams at the event as it will last through the end of the month. However, most weather reports show rain for March 28 and 29, but leaving March 30, a Sunday, and March 31 partially sunny days with temperatures in the lower 60s and 70s.

“It gave me an excellent opportunity and excuse to explore many of the new trails on the Urban Wilderness South Loop that I normally don’t take to the time to trek,” said Nathan Hunter, a participant in Hike-a-Thon 2013. “The Hike-A-Thon put me in a position to travel to new places in my own backdoors and have new experiences.”

Online registration for the event is still open. Participants can register individually or as a team. Registration is $20 for individuals and $100 for teams. Fees include a pledge form, mileage log sheet, admission to the closing ceremony and Hiker’s Ball.

For more sponsorship information or to find out more information about how your company can support Ijams, contact Mary Thom Adams via email [email protected] or by phone 865-577-4717 ext. 117.

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