For the past seven years I have been the race director of what was once a small trail race series held in Mine Falls Park (in Nashua). The Mine Falls Summer Trail Series is hosted by the Gate City Striders and is a shorter version of the 24-race trail series that Mike Amarello had put on as part of his Moose Milers Club. When we took the race over we decided to add a 5m race to the existing 5k course to offer a bit of variety in terms of distance and terrain. At our first race in 2007, we had 42 runners. Which I thought was pretty good considering it was about double what Mike was getting every week during his tenure.
Over the years, we’ve done a few things to make sure this stays a fun, no-frills race series that the whole family can enjoy. Firstly, we’ve kept our entry fees real low - $5 per runner over 18, $4 for the 15-18 crowd, and $3 for kids 14 and under. Secondly, we’ve added team relay and individual handicap races to keep things lively. Thirdly, we’ve provided random post-race raffle prizes and amateur entertainment provided by yours truly. Fourthly, we give out long-sleeve T-shirts to anyone who completes all 10 scoring races. And finally, we’ve scored the series in age groups 14 & under; 15-18; 19-39; 40-49; 50-59; 60-69; and 70+ with each segment winner getting a fine commemorative Trail Series drinking container.
Every year, when the series wraps up, I always get a good number of people who come up to me afterwards and thank me for the wonderful time they had. Some of the older runners say that they wouldn’t have raced at all during the year if it weren’t for our no-pressure series. Parents are proud to see their children out there having fun in a healthy and relaxed atmosphere. And, many are just grateful to have made so many good friends at our races.
Well, we’re now 7 seasons into it and we're up to about 200 trail runners per night! Thankfully, our club is filled with some great people and we typically get 12-14 volunteers come out and give us a hand. I'm constantly in awe at the selfless and giving nature of these amazing (and talented) people! I guess they must feel as I do, that they are so fortunate to be able to be part of such a great, local, family event that just seems to get better and better every year!
Note: I wrote an article a few years back on the joys of trail running. If you’d like to read more about it, you can find it here.