Dixon Legend trail run March 12 takes runners through forests of Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center

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The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences' Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center is hosting its inaugural 5K, 10K and Half Marathon race March 12 in Andalusia.

The Dixon Legend will provide an off-road opportunity to explore the diverse forests of the Dixon Center's more than 5,300 acres. The race will offer a challenge for all fitness levels and will traverse the property's network of dirt roads and trails through upland hardwood forests, across stream bottoms and through the rolling hills of the center's fire-maintained Longleaf Pine ecosystems.

Trail runs or off-road races have become increasingly popular in recent years. There are only a handful offered in the state and this race promises to be one of the more scenic. Local race director Jennifer O'Neal says of the race, "If you are looking for a great run to get you off the main road, this is it. No traffic, dogs or confusing routes to deal with. Just some trails in the middle of God's country with the sounds of birds singing and breezes blowing through the trees."

Realizing the untapped potential of the facility for just such an experience, Robin Kelley, race organizer and owner of Auburn's RaceKrewe, jumped at the chance to be involved. "The Dixon Legend is a unique opportunity, truly one of its kind with the course set entirely on the beautiful trails and unimproved roads of the Dixon Center. It's truly a win-win for these racers and the center."

The property, which is adjacent to the Conecuh River and National Forest, was deeded by Solon and Martha Dixon to the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences 35 years ago. Today, the Dixon Center is considered one of the finest educational facilities of its type in the nation. The Center functions as a program venue and outdoor classroom for a variety of user groups, including students, practitioners and land owners. Other groups visit the center simply to learn about and enjoy nature.

Historically, the center has depended on timber sales and agricultural and hunting leases to supplement its operating budget. According to the center's director, Joel Martin, "Over the last 10 years, we have increased the center's occupancy rates tremendously with its core users. Though to be fully self-sustaining, we are encouraging other groups to use the facility. This race will expose the center to a different set of outdoor enthusiasts and hopefully, some of them will find it to be an ideal event venue for their business, organization or family."

The race is open to runners 10 and over. Race details and online registration are available via the Dixon Center website at http://sdfec.auburn.edu/race.html. Registrations received prior to Feb. 26 will receive a race T-shirt. First- and second-place finishers in each race will be awarded for male/female overall winners and specified age classes (see race form). Completion medals will be awarded for the half marathon only. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

Email Joel Martin at marti12@auburn.edu or call (334) 222-7779 for more information. The race will be held at the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center located at 12130 Dixon Center Road, Andalusia, Alabama, 36420. A limited number of dorm-style rooms are available for reservation at the Dixon Center. However, alternative accommodations can be found within the nearby communities of Brewton and Andalusia. Visit http://www.explorebrewton.com/ or https://www.andalusiachamber.com/ to learn more.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.