It was a great year for the Connecticut trail running community. Some of our best individual trail running races joined forces to form the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series. Debbie and I envisioned this year’s ago, and with the help of others, it became a reality. The New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series will always be the standard-bearer for trail running in New England and we view the CT series as a compliment to that long running series. A handful of the races are in both series.
The Grand Tree was the series to run, long before this current trail running boom cluttered the calendar with other events in the region. The growth of the sport is fantastic, but it has been problematic for many of the long time/old school trail races in New England. The surge in ultrarunning has also left many of the mid-distance races in the dust, as participation levels at some events have dropped dramatically. Overall participation in the Grand Tree Series has risen at the individual level, but the number of people doing multiple races (you need to run six to qualify for the series standings) has dropped. People want to go short or long and not as often in between.
The Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series has various distances.
|5/18||Soapstone Mt. Trail Races||24k/6k||www.shenipsitstriders.org|
|9/6||Run for the Woods||10k/5k||www.ctwoodlands.org/runforthewoods2014|
|9/14||Trails for a Cure/Cockaponsett||12.9k||www.snerro.com|
|10/5||NipMuck Trail Marathon||42.5k||www.shenipsitstriders.org|
I had designs on running all of the races, but after doing Bimbler’s Bash, Traprock, and Soapstone, my running stopped because of this nagging left foot stress fracture/plantar fasciitis injury that has hobbled me for months. Half way through Soapstone, I knew something was seriously wrong. For the rest of the year, I’ve had to watch from the sidelines, take photos, and root for the other runners.
I’m pumped for the 2015 series, though it is doubtful that I will run any. This could be a long layoff from running for me. My last truly extended break was 1991 to 1999. Hopefully this hiatus isn’t as long.
1,032 individual runners competed in at least one race – 382 Female and 950 Male. The overall men’s title went to Ted Cowles (who ran every race), and the woman’s title went to Kehr Davis, who won the four events that she entered. Kudos to them.
The Shenipsit Striders have been very generous to the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, frequently contributing proceeds from Soapstone and NipMuck. Many people don’t realize that CFPA is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. CFPA is not a state agency. If it wasn’t for CFPA, their volunteers, and donors; more than 825 miles of Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails may not exist. CFPA’s advocacy is legendary and whether you support CFPA or some other local trails .org, you should keep these trail maintainers in your thoughts. Our parks and trails depend on them. Debbie and I are longtime supporters of CFPA, I am on the Board of Directors, and we always felt that a trail series would help raise awareness and funds for our cherished trails.
The Striders philanthropy has inspired others, including Steve Nelson and Kevin Hutt, Race Directors of the Traprock 50K to bestow their generosity on CFPA. Plans are in place to reprise the series next year. Debbie, Jerry Turk, and the other Race Directors (who also deserve a ton of credit) are working on the schedule. Each individual race relies on their own volunteers. Many come from the running clubs that promote these events. Thanks to Dominic Wilson who calculated all the scores and CFPA’s Marty Gosselin for keeping the website up to date. Oh, one last shout out to Christopher Moore from Connecticut Outdoor Guide who shot photos at many of the races.
We will find a good way to honor Ted, Kehr, and some of our other participants. In the meantime, check out the results.