It’s not surprising to see a regular stream of sledders tackle the snow-covered hill on Portland’s Eastern Promenade in the winter.

Seeing those sledders wearing mullet wigs, Superman tights and wings of pink feathers, on the other hand, might give an onlooker pause — particularly when most of the downhill riders are adults.

On Saturday, costumed competitors will take to the East End on sleds, bikes and running shoes during the Snowman Adventure race, organized by Casco Bay Sports.

The annual two-person relay race consists of a 4.5-mile bike ride around Portland’s Back Cove and a 2.25-mile run along the East End Trail and a few side streets.

But first, both runner and rider must scurry up the East End hill and sled back down it to start their respective legs of the race. And before it’s over, the duo must sled together to the finish line.

It’s an event that gets competitors up close and personal with the wintry elements at a time of year when many of them are impatient for spring.

“We were just looking for something for people to do in the dog days of winter,” said Patrick Hackleman, director of Casco Bay Sports. “People are pretty set with snow and bad weather at that point. And also, we were looking for something different.”

Hackleman started the Snowman Adventure in 2008, but the relay took a hiatus last year due to a lack of snow. This year, Mother Nature has been generous and organizers are confident the race will go on.

The race draws out avid runners and riders who are happy to find some willing winter rivalry. But the manageable distances of the race’s two legs and the laid-back atmosphere are welcoming to racers who participate simply for the fun of it.

“We get people for this event that we don’t normally get for our other events,” said Hackle- man. “Because it’s so different and anybody can do it.”

And there’s just something about running up India Street in a grass skirt in the middle of February that even the non-athlete can appreciate.

Costumes aren’t required for the Snowman Adventure, but “you’ll be out of place if you don’t dress up,” said Hackle- man.

The Snowman Adventure is a race in which the team wearing the best costume is applauded just as much as the team that crosses the finish line first.

Duos are also encouraged to come up with an entertaining name, such as Team Frostbite or Sled Zeppelin, two teams already registered this year.

Just about anything goes when it comes to the sled, so long as it doesn’t have any metal or other potentially dangerous elements on it. Inflatable tubes and plastic sleds are most common, though racers are free to experiment.

A helmet is required for the bike rider and both participants are encouraged to dress warmly. Complimentary coffee will be on hand in the warming tent, but nothing beats appropriate winter layers for staying warm.

From noon to 1 p.m., Kamasouptra will spoon out free soup to racers under the tent, then teams are off to the post-race party upstairs at Bull Feeney’s (375 Fore St., Portland), where awards will be given out in a variety of categories.

The entry fee is $40 per team in the men’s, women’s, co-ed and parent-child divisions, and $30 for teams of children ages 12 to 17.

Registration is open at 9 a.m. on race day or in advance at

Proceeds from the Snowman Adventure benefit Portland Trails. The sensation of flying headfirst down the East End hill on an inner tube — while wearing a tutu and winter boots — that’s a gift you give yourself.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at:

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