2020 Trails to a Cure (Cockaponset Trail Race)

It was a quiet return to the Trails to a Cure (Cockaponset Trail Race) for the inaugural COVID-19 edition. The Livington’s visited Chester, ran 8+ miles (4 in the case of Dahlia), and got out of town.

It was great that the organizers (Charlie and Becky Iselin + the SNERRO volunteers) put this classic race on in 2020 despite all of the challenges. This is the first trail running race we have done this year. Along with the two CCAP Rocky Hill Cyclocross Training Series races that I’ve done the last two weeks, the Bolton Road Race in March, and the Colchester Half Marathon in February, these are the only events I’ve done in 2020. For contrast, I did 38 races in 2019. That’s 38 vs. five.

The good news is there are still three months to go and now that we are “learning to live” with the virus pandemic, I gather there may be a few more socially distanced races added to the calendar. The New England Bicycle Racing Association (NEBRA) published results of a survey that we participated in, and there is a good chance that some promoters/race directors will step up and produce more cyclocross events before the year is over. The general consensus is that if organizers follow state guidelines, if health is the primary consideration, and if races are produced, there will be strong demand.

For Debbie and me, this has been the year of the FKT with lots of solo and tandem trail running, but we were still excited to toe the line at an actual race. Today’s race was done with wave starts (30 seconds apart) to minimize traffic on the narrow trails and spread people out. Everyone wore a mask before and after, including the volunteers, and with limited field sizes, we had no concerns.

We got a basic goody back that included our bib numbers and some baked breads. There were no t-shirts, no prizes, and no instant results which is fine with us. We didn’t socialize before or after. We were late to arrive, so we didn’t even have a warmup. I eased my way into the race, pushed hard for a few miles and then realized that I was not feeling good. My ankles and calves (a persistent 2020 problem) were bothering me and I was winded, so I backed off. This was a bit of a rest week for me. I got less than 12 hours of total exercise time for the first time since April. That’s nuts! This week, I didn’t even get nine hours, which is fine. Like I said, I needed a break.

Debbie nearly caught me at the finish. She was within a minute of me and started a wave behind me so we need to see the official results (promised in a day or two) to figure out who “won.” Shepard wasn’t feeling too hot (must have been a guy thing!) but he finished the race only a few minutes behind Debbie. Our hope is that there will be some sort of middles school cross country season. Debbie is the Bolton Center School coach and both of our kids are on the team. They started practice and are having a lot of fun, but both want some meets to train for. So far, there are none scheduled, but they are being planned.

We didn’t make it back to the water crossing in time, which means Shepard wasn’t too far back. Both Debbie and I did the crossing, but he opted to stay dry and ran the long way around. I wish I had some photos, but like I said, we were in and out. Becky may have gotten some photo or video of my at the crossing. All I can say is I was very wet and that I looked like the Swamp Monster with all of the weeds hanging off of me. It was kind of yucky, but that’s what makes Cockaponset special.

Today was the first real cold day since spring. It may still be summer until tomorrow, but it felt like late fall. In Bolton, we saw 38 degrees Fahrenheit on the thermometer early in the morning and in Chester at race time, it was no more than 45. It warmed up into the low-50’s after the 9:00 A.M. start, but there as a cool breeze. Unlike last year when everyone hung out and went for a “second” swim in Pattaconk Reservoir, we had to change up and get warm. Since Dahlia did the short course and had to wait for us to finish, she was shaking like a leaf when we got back. After we changed our wet clothes, we had a family picnic in the car, and then we took off.

It was kind of sad to not be able to hang out and chat with friends, but today wasn’t the day for that and 2020 isn’t really the year for that. It was nice to spend time on the trails of Cockaponset State Forest and it was nice to support a good cause.

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