Cyclists in a previous year’s Sourland Spectacular. (Photo by Michelle Baker.)

All are welcome to participate in the 9th annual Sourland Spectacular to enjoy the outdoors, fresh air, and exercise to “Save the Sourlands.”

Typically a cycling rally, this year’s Sourlands Spectacular has been reimagined as a 9-day choose-your-own-route, cycling, running and/or hiking event. The Sourland Spectacular will be held September 5-13 on Sourland region roads and public hiking trails. Cycling routes will be released soon.

Sourland Conservancy trustees Joanna Fiori and Jim Andrews, are co-chairing this year’s event. “We want to keep everyone’s health and safety front and center, which is why we have modified the event to allow riders, runners, and hikers to participate safely following CDC guidelines,” says Fiori. “We will be marking the routes, providing cue sheets and GPS files, a water fill station, and portapotties.”

Andrews says because many people are experiencing economic hardship, and the Sourland Conservancy is offering reduced services for this year’s event, the organization is not setting a fixed registration fee.

Participants are asked to pay what they can, and those who donate $60 or more will receive a sweat-wicking workout shirt. T-shirts will also be available while supplies last. Orders received before August 10th will be guaranteed.

The organization says proceeds from the Sourland Spectacular will support the Sourland Conservancy, the local nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect, promote and preserve the 90-square mile Sourland Mountain region. Members say their work is more critical than ever as the forest is on track to lose over one million trees within 3-5 years due to the invasive emerald ash borer.

“Our staff, volunteers, and community partners are doing all we can to restore the forest. We need help,” said Laurie Cleveland, Sourland Conservancy’s executive director. “Millions of people rely on the forest to provide clean air and drinking water, habitat for endangered species, carbon sequestration, and more. Now, the forest is facing a serious threat. We will all need to work together to protect it.”

Dante DiPirro, the Conservancy’s board president, said canceling the organization’s largest fundraiser, the Sourland Mountain Festival, due to Covid-19 dealt a serious blow to its work. “We are hoping that the community will rally together to support our work” in the Sourland Spectacular, he says.

Business sponsorships starting at $300 are still available. Sponsors who sign up before August 10th will receive recognition on the back of the event shirt. Email info@sourland.org for more information or check online.