This Saturday, September 12, brings the second Big Bear Lake Marathon, as the Run the Bear event, which also includes a half-marathon, 5K and free Kids’ Kritter Run, gets underway, starting first with the bike tour, which launches from Pine Knot Landing at 6:30am. For 12 athletes, Saturday’s Run the Bear will be the culmination of a strenuous year, as they will participate in their final event in the Conquer the Bear series. Conquer the Bear began in February, when over 25 athletes–both professional and casual, from Big Bear and beyond—competed in the series’ 10K snowshoe race. Local athletes Ted and Heather Devito made impressive showings in Snowshoe the Bear (with Ted taking first overall in 1:13), and earning the couple the top ranking spots going into the second Conquer the Bear event, May’s Team Big Bear Shoot-Out #1 mountain bike race. Athletes then hit the water, as the third Conquer the Bear event was a 10K kayak paddle in the July Paddlefest. Just one week later, athletes tackled the grueling California Multisport, an event that included a 9K run, 20K mountain bike ride, a 4K run, and the final hurdle, a ropes course at the finish line, on a sweltering day. As athletes in the Conquer the Bear series must participate in each of the five events in order to be eligible for a place on the podium, the field has dwindled since Snowshoe the Bear but, again, 12 competitors are hanging on and gearing up for their 26.2 mile marathon around Big Bear Lake this week. Going into the final competition, the leaders in Conquer the Bear are Ted Devito of Big Bear Lake, Wes Barton of Manhattan Beach, and local cyclist Steve Kinney; top female contenders are Heather Devito, Tiffany Meyers of Redondo Beach, and Big Bear Lake’s Diane Bradley, a 40something mother of three who has embraced the sporting challenge, prompting her official introduction to kayaking and mountain biking. Other contenders in Conquer the Bear still include Dave Emig, Doug Heyes, Jasmine Kall, Jeff Villepique, Mike Whalen and 13-year-old Jordan Romero. Conquer the Bear athletes will likely be wearing special blue jerseys in the marathon, so be sure to cheer them on! For more information on Run the Bear, or to register, visit RuntheBear.com; for specifics on Conquer the Bear, click on the “Conquer the Bear” link below for KBHR’s complete coverage of the series, and/or visit OpenAirBigBear.com.