OGDEN -- As athletes registered for this weekend's Xterra races, a festival atmosphere began to percolate Friday at the Ogden Amphitheater.
Music pumped through speakers and booths offering everything from free test rides on specialized bikes to bottles of specially engineered water lined the perimeter of the park.
A Kids Zone, offering activities such as a rope ladder, soccer goal and obstacle course, beckoned children to play.
About 4,000 to 5,000 people from 10 countries and 40 states are expected to attend the events, including about 1,100 competitors. For the past few years, the Ogden area has been the location for the outdoor competition, which includes mountain biking, trail running and swimming across Pineview Reservoir.
Xterra CEO Tom Kiely said this year's event has about 25 percent more competitors than last year.
"I was hoping for a 5 to 10 percent increase," Kiely said, "so a 25 percent rise is really wonderful."
He said the growth is aided by the good relationships established among participants allowing for success even in a down economy.
"It's like seeing family again," Kiely said, but the centralized location and beautiful surroundings help, too. "If this event happened in the middle of Cleveland, I don't think they'd be as excited."
This is Vivo Plus owner Kevin Larson's first year at the event.
Larson, from St. Louis, was selling bottles of water engineered to get into the body faster and provide quicker hydration. He is also proud of the packaging, saying the bottles are 100 percent biodegradable.
"We feel the extreme outdoorist is going to care about the environment."
A couple of booths down, Weber State University students Tricia Cook and Sarah Rumpsa share information about Togo Bikes, a program to send bicycles to the people of the West African country of Togo.
"They are bike people," Clark said, "so we hope they are the kind of people that will be into this."
Across the way, students of the Paul Mitchell Beauty School snipped and styled locks as part of Cut for Charity. Project organizers hope to raise $2,000 in two days to benefit the Challenged Athletes Foundation, helping athletes with a missing limb or other disabilities, explained Raynae Oswald from Beauty Systems Group, area distributor for Paul Mitchell products.
"Whatever it takes to get $2,000 at $15 a pop," Oswald said, "but a lot of people donate, so that helps."
Adults aren't the only ones with a chance to get a bit of exercise. Along with the Kids Zone, Friday's events included a bike race and a foot race for children. Each participant received a medal and a racing bib with a number.
Bree Montgomery, of the Goal Foundation, which helped organize the volunteer effort, said these events get the children excited about being outside and being active.
"We want to obviously promote the health of every kid," Montgomery said.
Under the clothing tent, TJ Gray, the designer of the Xterra shoe, hung out to show off his creation.
The shoe has been out for a year and a half but had a small presence at the games last year.
Gray, who has designed shoes for major shoe companies, spent almost two years developing a lightweight shoe based on the paws of big cats, such as mountain lions.
"It's about multisurface and having fun with the colors."