Final Results: 2017 Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series

2017 was another great year for the Connecticut trail running community. For the fourth year in a row, some of our best individual trail running races came together to form the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series. Debbie and I envisioned this years ago, and in 2014, we kicked it off. 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. A handful of the races are in both series.

I wrote this paragraph in my 2014 report, and not much has changed. If anything, it’s even more true now:

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.

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In 2018, the Grand Tree will be returning to its roots with fewer races, a focus on the old school low cost races, and those geared towards beginners. Rob Higley, the longtime WMAC and Grand Tree Series Webmaster shared these thoughts:

I’ve made a couple of changes to the Grand Tree for 2018. The series originated in part to provide beginning trail racers an introduction to races farther from home or of differing distance or character, and by inclusion in the series to help new trail races become established.

To steer the series more towards its earlier character, with a greater proportion of races that are easy to enter in terms of cost or need to register far in advance, 

The second change to the Grand Tree for 2018 is that in the future anyone who runs at least six races of the current season will be invited to join an email list whose members decide the next year’s list of Grand Tree races.

These sound like positive changes to keep up with the shifting dynamics of trail running in the Northeast.

In Connecticut, the Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series has various distances for a wide variety of fitness levels and is very family friendly.

2018 Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series Schedule
Date Race Distance Info
4/14/18 Traprock 50K/17K https://www.traprock50.com/ 
5/20/18 Soapstone Mt. Trail Races 24K/6K www.shenipsitstriders.org
6/3/18 Goodwin Forest 10K/30K www.friendsofgoodwinforest.org
6/10/18 Nipmuck South 22.7K www.shenipsitstriders.org
7/29/18 Soapstone Assault 8.9K www.shenipsitstriders.org
8/4/18 People’s Forest 12.1K www.greystoneracing.net
September TBD Run for the Woods 10K/5K www.ctwoodlands.org/runforthewoods
9/16/18 Trails to a Cure/Cockaponsett 12.9K www.snerro.com
9/30/18 NipMuck Trail Marathon 42.5K www.shenipsitstriders.org
10/21/18 Bimbler’s Bluff 50K www.bimblersbluff.com

I ran five of the BBTRS races in 2017. I did the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race, of which Debbie is the Race Director. I did the short course at the Goodwin Forest Trail Runs. I did the Soapstone Assault and the People’s Forest Trail Race. Then, I did the Trails for a Cure/Cockaponsett Trail Race short course with Dahlia.

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I did two Grand Tree races outside of Connecticut, the Mt. Greylock Trail Race and the Monroe Dunbar Brook Trail Race (the short course with Dahlia). In the 2000-2010 timeframe Debbie and I often averaged more than a dozen Grand Tree races per year. Now that Shepard and Dahlia are running with us, we have returned to doing more of the short races. I’ve also been riding more and running less.

In the BBTRS, there were 14 events (between the 10 races) in 2017, ranging in distance from 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) to 50 kilometers (31 miles). All of the events added up to 187 miles. 944 unique runners competed in at least one race – 343 Female and 601 Male. The total participants were down a bit from prior years, but the total mileage is still impressive. 18,556 total miles were run – 5,731 miles by women, and 12,825 miles by men.

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The overall women’s title went to Colleen Malone-Singer. She finished seven of the races for a total of 98 miles and won her age group at Nipmuck South and Run for the Woods. The men’s title went to Stefan Rodriguez. He finished nine events, had one overall win at the Soapstone Assault, and three age group wins at Traprock 17K, Goodwin Forest 10K, and Run for the Woods 10K. He ran a total of 112 miles in series races.

Congratulations to Colleen and Stefan.

The Shenipsit Striders have been very generous to the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, contributing proceeds from all of our race, including 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.

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The Shenipsit Striders philanthropy has inspired others, including the Traprock 50K, to bestow their generosity on CFPA. Thank you to Dominic Wilson who calculated all the scores. He also made the cool awards that were presented to Colleen and Stefan at the Shenipsit Striders year-end party, which we held earlier this month.

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Look for both the WMAC and CFPA websites to be updated with full 2018 details soon.

Click here for the 2017 Men’s Results

Click here for the 2017 Women’s Results

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