2012 Soapstone Mountain Trail Races

Today, I had a great 8 mile run at the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Unfortunately, the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race is 14 miles long! The good news is that the race wasn’t about me, but it was about the triumph of our running club, the Shenipsit Striders.

This was the 28th edition of Soapstone and the 10th (I think) with Debbie as Race Director. She got tremendous support from two dozen Striders and it made a huge difference. We hosted more than 230 runners (170 finishers in the 24 kilometer long race and 59 finishers in the 6 kilometer Sampler) at Reddington Rock Riding Club.

The Shenipsit Forest was unforgiving today. The race mostly went off with out a hitch, but at least 10 people got lost and four or five of them were really lost. I’m sure we will get flak for the course markings, but I was out there myself, and I’ve done the race many times. I’m biased but I feel they were the best that they have been.

Several non-Striders commented that the markings were adequate. Hopefully the folks who wandered in the woods aren’t too upset about going off trail. We had several injuries, fortunately nothing too serious. There was one trip to the hospital for a broken ankle. There were a lot of cuts and bruises. That’s trail running. Safety is the number one priority, and we are fortunate that all of the runners were accounted for, even those that didn’t make it to the finish line.

John Dudley won the race in 1:46:15. He was followed by Aaron Β Stone, Rob Hult, Keith Schmitt, and Gabriel Flanders. Kerry Arsenault was the first woman in 2:17:09. She was followed by Karolina Fucikova, Erica Boeckeler, Heidi Chauvin, and Nicole Boucher. There were some fine performances on a hot day. The conditions were very different from a stormy, wet, and cold 2011 edition.

The Sampler was won by Clint Morse. He has this one dialed in. He was followed by Tony Hollister and Robert Verereck. The handicap start race was dominated by the senior circuit. First, second, and third are 50, 65, and 64 respectively.

Cairo the wonder dog was a finisher again, and he even donned a Soapstone T-shirt to show his love for the Shenipsit Striders. The sunshine was abundant. The trails were dry where they are usually dry and wet where they are usually wet. The streamed was sketchy, as usual, but we didn’t have half the mud of last year. There was some debris on the trails and I think that contributed to the trips and falls.

I had a good fall myself. I have a cut on my right middle finger that was a real gusher. I’m lucky it looked at lot worse than it was. This was my first trail race of the year, so I didn’t quite have the legs or balance to go the distance. I gave it my best shot and held on as long as I could. Dave Merkt was stop Strider, with a fantastic 1:55:32 for 8th place. He was the same spot as me in 2011 and four seconds faster. He was killing it on the descents today and I lost him around mile 7 or so. I knew I was in trouble when Brett Stoeffler caught me. He has the best pacing of any runner I know and I knew that I had gone out too fast for my fitness. I was a bit out of synch. I even started the race without my bib number. Dave ran back 100 meters from the finish line and handed it to me so I had something to show when I finished. Regardless, it was a fun day in the woods and I’m glad that I did the race. I needed the miles.

It is important to note that without trail maintenance, land preservation, and conservation advocacy; there would be no trail running. The Shenipsit Striders have a history of making significant contributions to both the Connecticut Forest & Park Association and the Northern Connecticut Land Trust. This is a way for trail runners to say, “thanks” for looking after the trails. I encourage as many trail runners as possible to support these two organizations or other conservation organizations.

I was really proud of Debbie and all of the support that she got. Once again, Barbara Schieffer (Deb’s Mom) and Joe King manned the cook shed and served 250+ servings of veggie burgers, Rein’s Deli veggie chili, and pickles. The post-race festivities are as much a part of Soapstone as the forest is. Next year is number 29, but we are in no rush. We have a lot of stuff to clean up and put away. Loose ends need to be tied up. Lessons learned need to be documented. We have to follow-up on our wounded runners. Even with the banged up bodies, I saw a lot of smiles out there today.

24 kilometer Race Results

6 kilometer Race Results

13 Responses to “2012 Soapstone Mountain Trail Races”


  1. 1 Guy Caracciolo 20 May 2012 at 9:44 pm

    I had a great time at my first soapstone 24k! What a great technical race! I want to also commend Annie Squire,Bob Perednia,and Curtis Child who carried the woman out of the woods who broke her ankle. they covered an extra two miles and still completed the race!

    • 2 SL 21 May 2012 at 7:20 am

      Thanks Guy. I’m glad you cited the heroics of these runners. They demonstrated what makes the trail running community so great.

  2. 3 Michele Morcey Henderlite 21 May 2012 at 9:03 am

    I’m one of the four people who got lost on the way to the third aid station. The course was well marked, and we never realized we missed anything since the white blazes kept coming at us, but clearly we did. Up until that point, I loved the race and was running strong. It was a scary couple of hours out there, and I can’t imagine what I would have done without my fellow runners Paul, Eric and Jeffrey (I don’t know their last names but want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for staying calm). I spent my afternoon in shambles but I’m moving on and hope to be back next year. Thanks for putting on a great race in a beautiful location.

  3. 5 Alan Cabot 21 May 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks for the pic, Scott! I appreciate the toddler sizes, they fit me perfectly! My human seemed to like the veggie chilli, but I’m a little partial to real meat… Tell Deb she did a great job, and thanks for letting me join you for a great time. Cairo.

  4. 7 anthonytieuli 21 May 2012 at 9:06 pm

    This was my first Soapstone, and I loved it! (though, if I were forced to comment at about mile 10 or so, I might not have been quite so positive!) The technical nature of the course was right up my alley. I’m slow either way, so it may as well be tough! As far as marking goes, I thought the course was extremely well marked, but I will say that white is probably not the best choice of colors for the blazes. (of course, the white color may have been required by the forest authorities? ) I spent quite a lot of time alone during the second half of the race and had to rely on myself for navigation. I noticed several times that the blazes were tough to spot because bright sun was shining on the trees and the glare completely washed out the white dot until you were up close to it. Maybe something more colorful would have been easier to spot? (of course, something more colorful might also be considered obnoxious so…… )
    Anyway, just wanted to throw in my two cents and tell you all again how great I think your race is!!
    See you next year! (assuming I’m not fat and out of shape by then.)

    -anthony tieuli

    • 8 SL 21 May 2012 at 10:19 pm

      They have always been white. I’ve suffered in bright sunlight too, but if you were there last year, in the pouring rain and fog, you would appreciate white. The AT is white and a lot of folks follow that trail! In CT, the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails are blue…so when you saw blue…and white, that was the Shenipsit Trail, which you were on for part of the time. A long time Grand Tree race was Breakneck, which had NO course markings. Follow the blazes–I was lost there many times. It’s part of trail running. Even Debbie was lost (briefly) at Zane Grey earlier this month.

  5. 9 SL 21 May 2012 at 10:20 pm

    An update on our injured runner–she has a broken ankle (I argue that it is better than a severe sprain because ligament damage can last years and bones heal quickly). She is grateful for the support of the folks who carried her to Aid Station 2, and to the aid station volunteers who got her to the hospital. She vowed to return next year. That is the trail running spirit!

  6. 10 Alena Stevens 22 May 2012 at 2:27 am

    I am pretty new to the trail running scene (3rd race) but I thought the trail was very well marked. I had to back track once but that was my own fault because I fell for the ole follow the runner in front of me routine. Fortunately, she realized it really quickly and the intersection was maybe 100 yds back with clearly visible pink and black ribbon. Thanks you to all of the Striders for such an organized, well planned run (I can’t call them races yet). It was very tough but, for the 1st time, I did not fall so even though I’m still slow I think I’m making some progress out there πŸ™‚


  1. 1 CFPA Open House & Highlawn Forest Dedication + Trails Day « Life Adventures Trackback on 1 June 2012 at 8:32 pm
  2. 2 2012 Laurel Highlands Ultra « Life Adventures Trackback on 14 June 2012 at 5:37 am
  3. 3 2012 Mt. Greylock Trail Race « Life Adventures Trackback on 17 June 2012 at 8:35 pm

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