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Like TedTalk for outdoor adventurers, new speaker series aims to encourage extreme activities

The first-annual “How to be Outside” Speaker Series will take place on April 18 at the Gayety Theatre in Collingwood
Molly Hurford is a local athlete and freelance writer who is planning a speaker series focused on outdoor adventure and sports. Contributed photo

The organizer of a new speaker series in Collingwood is hoping to collect adventure addicts and grow or form new communities of outdoor enthusiasts.

Molly Hurford is in the process of planning Collingwood’s first Outdoor Speaker, intended to inspire and inform people on the adventures that await just outside our doorstep.

“You have your passion, but you are craving that community,” said Hurford.

Collingwood is a jumping point for endless adventures, adrenalin-pumping sports and outdoor activities, and with each avocation, there is a passionate group of people behind it.

A cyclist, ultra runner and coach herself, Hurford was in search of her own community when she moved to Collingwood just over five years ago. Outdoorsy and adventurous people usually aren’t too hard to distinguish, and Hurford was lucky to find a few friends in the Off-Road Cycling Club (CORC).

But even so, she felt like she was craving this bigger community, and she knew if she could find it anywhere, she would find it in Collingwood.

Over dinner last fall with a few CORC “family” members, the conversation turned to the active lifestyle in Collingwood and why there isn’t a TedTalk of sorts to cater to those numerous individuals.

The casual dinner conversation got Hurford’s gears turning, so — like the way she approaches most things in her life — Hurford charged full speed ahead, determined to turn this dream into a reality.

The inaugural “How to be Outside” Speaker Series will take place on April 18 at the Gayety Theatre in Collingwood. It will be a night of speaking and interaction fully devoted to outdoor adventure, inspiration and motivation and will showcase a wide range of ways people can get outside.

Throughout the night, 13 speakers will give a short talk, ranging from pro athletes to advocates to outdoor adventurers, Collingwood-based and beyond.

“I hope it will be that next step to encourage people,” said Hurford. “In doing this, everyone will not only get to hear a bunch of amazing speakers and get inspired, but there will be local groups set up where you can sign up for a club or activity.”

Hurford is developing the event’s program like an outdoor adventure magazine that all of the attendees can take home with them.

“I want people to have these actionable things. I think that’s what’s missing from these inspirational talks… You always go home so inspired, but then it’s late so you go to bed and something always comes up,” she said.

Growing up, Hurford was not much of an athlete. She couldn’t run a mile until she was in university. Now she is a certified USA Cycling & PMBI-certified MTB and cycling coach, a Precision Nutrition Level 1 coach, a Yoga Alliance registered teacher and last summer she won the Summit 700 Trail Running Event in The Blue Mountains.

A freelance journalist, writer and author as well, Hurford writes about all things outdoors on her blog, The Outdoor Edit, as well as for numerous other publications. She also co-hosts a podcast called The Consummate Athlete with her husband, Peter Glassford.

“I was super easily impressionable as a kid,” she started. “If I had read about a bunch of cool girls doing sports I definitely would have done it. I read the babysitting books and babysitting is like the lamest thing ever — and I wanted to start babysitting!”

While Hurford is sad to have missed those formative years, she is just happy to embrace her outdoor lifestyle now — and encourage as many others to join her.

“I am always, always up for a new adventure,” said Hurford. “(My husband and I) want to be the kind of athlete who could say yes to a rock-climbing trip, surfing, kiteboarding, you name it. We want to feel confident that we could join.”

Hurford hopes the speaker series is a success and can become an annual event — a kick start to summer — year after year. Ultimately, her dream come true would be to bring together this multidimensional group of people.

“A dream team,” she said.

So far, she has been amazed by the amount of support and excitement the community has shown so far.

“People want this stuff,” said Hurford. “People want to be able to meet other people and get involved. The Collingwood people are so wonderful and welcoming. It’s going to be the coolest night.”

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Maddie Johnson

About the Author: Maddie Johnson

Maddie Johnson is an early career journalist working in financial, small business, adventure and lifestyle reporting. She studied Journalism at the University of King's College, and worked in Halifax, Malta and Costa Rica before settling in Collingwood
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