Shenipsit Trail End-to-End Run

The benefits of yesterday’s yoga class didn’t last very long. At 5:45 P.M., Art Byram and I completed what 12 other Shenipsit Striders (and friends) started at 7:15 A.M. this morning. The first group, including Debbie, left Stafford, Connecticut at the northern terminus of the Shenipsit Trail, and ran 23 rugged miles south to Bolton Notch. Despite a few interested runners, none of the runners from the first group continued on the second half with us. So, it was a team effort to complete the full distance. At 12:15 P.M., I handed off our kids to Debbie, and then Art and I took the “baton” and ran the 23.5 miles to the southern terminus in East Hampton.

My GPS results show that we went through Bolton, Manchester, Glastonbury, Marlborough, and East Hampton. There was only 2,400 feet of elevation gain, but it was all steep stuff.  We got to explore some of my favorite lands, all in one day. We were on the Hop River Rail Trail, in Freja Park, in Case Mountain, on Birch Mountain Road, and in Meshomasic State Forest. Coming only two days after the Manchester Road Race, it was an epic run. This wasn’t the best for my recovery, but I figured, “what the heck.” My brain was really into it, but my body was screaming, “no” the entire time. Everything hurt, especially my legs.

All the pain from Ironman Hawaii came back, but it still felt so good. Art and I had a great chat and we explored the awesome Shenipsit Trail, which is part of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association’s Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail system. Early in the run, Art warned me that he grunts when his legs are shot, so I dubbed him the “Monica Seles of trail running.” We got lost several times, but each time, we managed to find our way back onto the route. The section of trail in Meshomasic, or “the Mesh,” was the most confusing because of all of the side trails and intersections.

We didn’t encounter too many people and had the woods pretty much to ourselves. It got dark around 4:30 P.M. and we finished with our headlamps. The last section of trail has a little Lookout Trail on Great Hill with a fabulous view of Great Hill Pond and the valley below. The lights in the valley shimmered under a wonderful starlit sky that released an occasional snow flurry. We had a steep descent to the trailhead and Art’s car.

I’ve been needing a run like this for a long time. I dubbed it the “anti-Ironman.” Running without a number just for fun without any pomp and circumstance was like a cleanse. I needed to clear my mind after the attitude, hype, and commercialism of the awesome, but flawed, Ironman experience. Art did the whole thing end-to-end last year with Bruce Giguere, another Strider. 46+ miles on that trail would be even more epic. Someday…

2 Responses to “Shenipsit Trail End-to-End Run”


  1. 1 billflood 22 December 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Nice post.
    -A few things: Great to see folks using the trails (I do volunteer for CFPA, although not frequently enough).

    -I think that, despite your GPS you must have passed through Portland as well as E. Hampton at some point, no? The trail basically follows the town line. The lookout is definitely in Portland. I think.

    -As someone who huffs and puffs just ‘strolling’ along those trails I’m impressed. I also think you’re nuts.

    Were you at the Great Hill Pond lookout at twilight, or dark? Must have been cool either way.

    -Bill

  2. 2 SL 27 December 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Bill, I appreciate the comments. It was very much dark when we reached the finish. Our headlamps illuminated the trail and we stumbled all the way back down to the car that we had parked at the end of the run. Great trail. Get out and enjoy it!


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