Today, I was a last minute “entrant” in the 1st Annual Shenipsit Old School Trail Half-Marathon. With no Northern Nipmuck Trail Race on the traditional Saturday before Easter, there was a void until Ron Starrett and his gang filled it with this fun race. The Shenipsit Striders threw their weight behind this self-timed affair and filled out the field with most of the runners. The start/finish was at the commuter lot off of Exit 67 next to Walker Reservoir in Vernon, Connecticut.
The approximately 13 mile out and back course included one of my favorite sections of the CFPA-managed/maintained Shenipsit Trail. Other sections traveled on other favorite trails in the beautiful Belding Wildlife Management Area, in Valley Falls Park, on the Hop River State Park Trail, and in Freja Park in Bolton. The turnaround was at the old drive-in just off Rt. 44 west of Bolton Notch. We had a glorious spring day with a light breeze, cool air, but brilliant sunshine. The sky was a deep blue with puffy white clouds.
It was a rugged well-marked course with a fair amount of elevation gain and loss. There was a lot of post-winter debris on the trail. There were several sections of ice and snow and there was a little mud. I had three hard falls including one where I didn’t think I was going to get back up, but I did. I slammed my right big toe into root and it sent me flying. It was great to see some of our runner friends come out of hibernation. NipMuck Dave graced us with his presence and even Jack the Puppy did the 13 plus he went out for another 7 with his Mom, Kristina Folcik and Dad, Ryan Welts.
Last night, I went to the recently expanded New Balance store in South Windsor to search for high quality footbeds with better arch support. I ended up walking out with the new insoles in a new pair of trail running shoes. It was too easy to just try them on and leave them on. I haven’t had a pair of New Balance shoes in more than 10 years. It must have been serendipity, because yesterday, Debbie cleaned out her locker at Court House Plus and brought home a bunch of my old gear including a vintage pair of New Balance road runners.
So, with brand new shoes and no break-in period, I tackled the Old School course today and other than the toe, didn’t have any foot issues. I got a chuckle when several other runners spotted my new shoes and recognized the model. Who has time to read shoe reviews? I wish I had time! I just walked into the store and said show me a pair of good trail runners. It was that simple. It is going to take more work to get my “trail legs.” I was clumsy and slow on the descents and my quadriceps are screaming tonight. Regardless, I had fun covering the course in 1:53:05. I ran the last four miles with Mike Reed, which was cool. He told me that several years ago, Debbie and I helped him prepare for a Long Trail trip. We are LT End-to-End Mentors and help dozens and dozens of hikers every year. It was nice to place a face to the name/e-mail.
My vote is that Ron and crew do this for real in 2014. I’ll be there.