This weekend: Fun, under a winter sun

Sunny skies, temperatures in the 50s! By gum, that’s the way winter is supposed to be! And that’s how it will be this weekend, perfect weather for a 5K, a family nature hike and more.

Coast

It’s early in the season, you want to start logging races, but PRs aren’t a concern. Sure, you want a decent time — as a baseline for 2017, if nothing else — but really, you want to get back into the groove of the 5K. The camaraderie, the pageantry, the fun. And if you happen to score a podium in your age group … .

Saturday’s 8th Annual Cardinal Strut sounds like just your race. Sponsored by Holly Tree Elementary School in Wilmington, the Strut features a flat course through the surrounding neighborhood followed by breakfast from the Waffle House. If you’ve ever felt the need to justify a hash brown bowl, the Strut’s 10K option could be it. Best of all, proceeds from the race benefit Strut for Kids, a non-profit providing funds to families of children in New Hanover County who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Logistics: 8th Annual Cardinal Strut, Saturday, March 4, 8 a.m., Holly Tree Elementary School, Wilmington. $35/$40. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Sunny, race time high of 34.

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Looking ahead: 3rd Annual SUP Surfing Pro-Am, April 15, Wrightsville Beach. More info here.

Piedmont

Mecklenburg County is peppered with nature preserves — 16 run by the county alone. These oases amid the urban chaos make for great introductions to the natural world, especially for kids.

Saturday, you can make such an introduction at the McDowell Nature Preserve. In the morning, a staff naturalist leads a 2- to 3-mile Family Nature Hike, stopping to examine the flora and fauna found along the way. Wear “sturdy, closed-toed shoes,” bring water.

Logistics: Family Nature Hike, Saturday, March 4, 10:30 a.m., McDowell Nature Preserve, Charlotte. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Sunny, hike-time temperature of 41.

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Looking ahead: View From Little Pinnacle, Saturday, March 18, Pilot Mountain State Park, Pinnacle. More info here.

Mountains

2016 Running of the Blues

Perhaps you’re already in midseason form (see Cardinal Strut, above) and need a race to make things … interesting. If so, check out Saturday’s Oskar Blues 4-Mile Run in Brevard. Top three male and females runners get a gift card from Foot-Rx Running ($100, $75, $50), plus, in an interesting twist, the first male and female runners to reach the 1-mile mark get $100 — provided they wind up finishing in the top 10 overall.

Added incentives: Registration includes a post-race brewski and pastries from Bracken Mountain Bakery.

Logistics: Oskar Blues 4-Mile Run, Saturday, March 4, 11 a.m., Brevard. $35. More info here.

Sunday forecast: Sunny, high of 46.

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Looking ahead: Bike of the Irish Community Ridge, Saturday, March 18, Asheville. More info here.

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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below.

Coast

CapeFearCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

Coastal Guide
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of coastal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.

NCCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

North Carolina Coast Host
Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

This Week Magazine
Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).

Mountains

Asheville Citizen-Times
From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.

Blue Ridge Outdoors
Searchable calendar lets you extend your reach to events throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast (or you can just limit it to North Carolina). Also lets you search a boatload of categories, ranging from Hiking, Mountain Biking and Climbing to Trail Running, Triathlon and Road Walking.

The Mountain Times
From the main page, click on “Calendars,” then Main Events.

Todd’s Calendar

Piedmont

Charlotte

Charlotte Observer events calendar
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including Nature, Recreation, Recreation & Wellness, Running

Charlotte Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Triad

GoTriad.com
Comprehensive calendar includes a Sports & Recreation category.

Piedmont Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Triangle

Triangle.com
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including: Birding, Boating, Cycling, Nature, Rec & Wellness, Recreation, Running, Swimming, Tennis, Yoga.

Carolina Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Statewide

Great Outdoor Provision Co. 
Calendar includes three weekly events for each of its seven markets: Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. Search by market.

Office of Environmental Education
One calendar for the numerous Environmental Education Centers statewide.

North Carolina State Parks
Lets you search for programs at the state’s parks, recreation areas and natural areas by location, by month, by topic. To reach the calendar from the home page, click on “Education,” then “Fun & Free Programs at Parks.”

National Forests in North Carolina
From the home page, click on Carolina Connections for news updates on the state’s four national forests as well as hints on recreational opportunities and a detailed rundown of recreation areas and the amenities at each.

U.S. National Wildlife Refuges
Rundown, by month, of regular activities at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuges in North Carolina.

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