Today’s 30th anniversary Soapstone Mountain Trail Race was just fantastic. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. The vibe was great. So many of our friends came out to support the Shenipsit Striders on our big day.
Once again, Debbie did an awesome job as Race Director. Sadly, this year, she didn’t have the presence of Jerry Stage, her mentor, the founding Race Director. Earlier this year, Jerry lost his battle with cancer. He directed the first 20 or so Soapstone’s and then co-directed a few with Debbie when she was getting her feet wet, and she has been solo for the last 10 years or so. Up until last year, he was still pitching in on race day. There was a wonderful moment of silence before the start and in that moment, all was right with the world.
The Shenipsit Striders community pulled together in a big way and so many other volunteers contributed to make the race a success. There were so many cool moments. 10 year-old Luke Stoeffler won the Dipsea Race-inspired (age graded) 6 kilometer Soapstone Sampler. He flew on the course and earned a neat victory. The kids race was a feast for the eyes with all of them tearing down the muddy trail.
The 24 kilometer main event went out hard and there were tough battles on the course, which had been made wet and muddy by yesterday’s heavy rain. The streamed wasn’t quite epic wet (it’s rained many times during the race), but it was flowing good.
My legs were dead after last week’s 50 mile adventure at Wapack and Back. I knew it was going to be tough to get my legs moving, but I didn’t realize it was going to be that tough. I took one hard fall after my legs turned to jelly, but I survived it. My time was well off my best on this course, but I was still stoked to be out on the trails and a Wapack/Soapstone back-to-back makes for a good week of trail running.
I’ll add some information about the top runners once I see the results. We had a busy afternoon wrapping up the race and packing up the stuff. It’s been a hectic week with all of the race preparations and I’ve got a busy travel week ahead.
I will note that our last finisher was Laura Clark. She has been a very loyal runner at Shenipsit Striders events and her work in the Northeast trail running community is legendary. It was fitting that she toughed it out after a hard day in Shenipsit State Forest and gutted out a finish. Special thanks to Jeffrey Woods for sweeping the course and sticking with Laura all day.
The Reddington Rock Riding Club venue is a huge key to the success of this event. Their generous use of their grounds is vital to the race. It was fun to see old friends and make new friends. After 30 years, like the NipMuck Trail Marathon, Soapstone is a certified classic. Next up in the New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series is the Mount Greylock Trail Race, and next up in the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series is Southern Nipmuck. See you on the trails again soon!