By Devin P. Quinn
XTERRA Trail Running Intern
Joining the XTERRA Trail Run Series roster this year is the brand-new Northeast series, four exciting events poised to introduce the region to the thrill of the XTERRA running experience. The series kicks off in just a few days with the XTERRA Shepaug Run Raiser in Bridgewater, CT on March 26th, with 10k, 25k, 50k, and 80k courses. The same distances are offered at the XTERRA Wawayanda Trail Run on May 7th in Hewitt, NJ and the August 6th XTERRA Steep Rock Trail Run in Washington, CT, and, on August 14th, the XTERRA Syracuse Trail Run will conclude the series with a 10k/20k race in Syracuse, NY. The XTERRA Shepaug Run Raiser is a rugged, “no-frills” race that provides challenges and rewards in equal measure on well-marked trails in the majestic Bridgewater backcountry.
The 10k course covers a variety of terrain—contouring, deer trails, dirt, open fields, rocks, roots, water, and more—with gentle elevation gains catering to every level of trail running skill. 25k and 50k runners continue on to the tranquil trails of the Roxbury Land Trust, where they will be treated to beautiful mountain laurel forests, crystal-clear streams, and the most welcome sight of all: an aid station by the pond, stocked with fuel for the tired runner. Finally, those brave souls who set out to tackle the 80k course will do three full laps of the 25k course plus a bit of extra distance around the aid station. Regardless of distance, runners should come prepared for any weather or trail condition.
Just over a month later is the XTERRA Wawayanda Trail Run, beginning and ending beside Lake Wawayanda in northwestern New Jersey. This start/finish area—a boat launch at the north end of the lake—also functions as an aid station for the longer distances, chock-full of all things sweet, salty, cool, and refreshing. The trails are a mix of single-track and double-track, smooth and technical, and include rocks, roots, and lots of rolling hills, and as runners navigate the winding trails, they will see signs of the historical background of Wawayanda State Park, including stone walls and an old iron furnace. The deep and wild woods of the park are home to a diverse wildlife population, so keep your eyes peeled for deer, wild turkeys, bears, birds, and Bigfoot.
The XTERRA Steep Rock Trail Run on August 6th is a tough but gorgeous trail run for casual and competitive runners alike. The 10k race takes place entirely within the Steep Rock Preserve, featuring a moderately technical course of serene riverside trails and pinnacle vistas as well as an old railroad tunnel and suspension bridge. The longer races head outside the borders of the preserve onto more technical but well-maintained trails through the Carter and Mine Hill preserves. Runners who challenge themselves with these longer distances will be rewarded with a tour of these beautiful parks, including an old quarry, ore mines, and blast furnace before the aid station, and can enjoy a sense of complete isolation and freedom in these peaceful preserves. Upon finishing, runners can cool off from the August heat in the cool, shallow river and enjoy the post-race refreshments.
The Northeast series finale, the XTERRA Syracuse Trail Run, will take place on the strikingly scenic trails at Green Lakes State Park in the heartland of central New York. Winding its way through rolling upland forest, rugged trails, and hill ascents, the course presents a challenging two-mile climb right from the start, but rewards with breathtaking views of two glacial lakes before offering a brief respite on the lakeside trail. The exciting mix of hilly terrain and fast, flat stretches offers a paradisiacal experience for any trail runner at any level of experience, whether seasoned pro or couch potato. In addition to a well-maintained and clearly marked course, runners can expect a well-organized and expertly run event and a great finish line party, including a fully catered lunch with great music. All in all, it’s safe to say that the XTERRA Northeast race series will go out with a bang!
Also, volunteers are always welcome at any of these races! Anyone who volunteers receives a snazzy t-shirt, post-race food, and the gratitude of our staff, spectators, and participants. If you’re interested, you can sign up on the race website. We also accept guilt-induced assistance, indentured service, and forced labor.
Points are awarded to the top fifteen finishers in each age group for the 25k, 50k, and 80k distances at Shepaug, Wawayanda, and Steep Rock, and for the 20k distance at Syracuse. The top three best race results for each runner during the series count towards the series standings, and the athletes with the most points in their age groups by the end of the series earn the title of Paul Mitchell XTERRA Northeast Series Champion and free entry to the Paul Mitchell XTERRA National Championship in Ogden, Utah on September 18, 2016.