9 Favorite CT Trail Races for 2019
Updated: Jan 30, 2019
What's on your running calendar this year? Don't miss these!
Maybe it's the mild winter so far, but I'm already smackin' my lips for some sweet trail racin' in Spring 2019 and beyond. You don't have to cross state borders to find great ones; Connecticut has plenty to make even an upstate New Yorker or Vermonter jealous.
In case you'd like a suggestion or two (or nine), here's a quick look at my favorites, the ones that I mark on my calendar every year possible. Whether you're new to the trails, or experienced and looking for a challenge, these races won't let you down.
Ready, set... go Connecticut!
1. Finally Spring 5K, April 6, Manchester. See ya, winter! Get spring off to a fast start with mostly flat, non-technical trails and a little bit of road, too. Great for road runners looking to say hello to a trail race as you say goodbye to months of freezing temperatures.
2. Bimblers Bash 10K(ish), April 7, Guilford. It might be a little wet. It might be a little muddy. But you'll love the challenging course (and the rock scramble) through Westwoods in Guilford. GPS-lovers beware: this 10K is closer to 7 miles, but who's counting?
3. Nipmuck South 14.5mi, June 9, Mansfield. Start at Mansfield Hollow State Park and enjoy the course that will take you along the Fenton River, over bridges, and up to the top of a 50-foot cliff. Hosted by the Shenipsit Striders, masters of many fine trail races.
4. Soapstone Assault 5.5mi, July 28, Stafford. If you're in the mood for punishment, how about a nice jaunt up and down Soapstone Mountain, climbing 6 times to the top? The last climb is known as "Killer Hill." You'll survive it, but maybe just barely.
5. XTERRA Steep Rock 50K/50M (no link yet this year), August, Washington Depot. A tough but rewardingly scenic ultramarathon whose sights include an old railroad tunnel, 19th-century iron ore mines, blast furnace ruins, and more. My favorite moment: Taking a much-needed breather on a 93-degree day in front of a dark mountain mine shaft, feeling impossible cold air whistle from the depths to refresh me.
6. People's Forest Trail Run 7mi (no link yet this year), August, Barkhamstead. A scenic course through one of Connecticut's lesser known state forests, a few tough hills, and a river at the end to cool your tired feet. Great friendly atmosphere. One year I won a cake.
7. Where the Pavement Ends 4.1mi, September 22, Ridgefield. Perfect for us folks down in Fairfield County, a short but technical and challenging course with enough ups and downs to make your legs yearn for a comfy chair. Part of the Connecticut Trail Mix Series.
8. Nipmuck Trail Marathon 26.2, October 6, Ashford. Another epic Shenipsit Strider offering, this time covering a length of the Nipmuck you won't see on the Nipmuck South race. You might be thinking "this is kinda easy" after the first half. Then comes the second half, which is kinda... not. A Connecticut classic, do it at least once!
9. Steep Rock Hidden Valley 15K, November TBD, Washington. If you're not up for the Steep Rock ultra, then the Hidden Valley 15K offers a beautiful sampler of the area, including a climb to the mountaintop lookout and a crossing over the iconic Thoreau Bridge. A great way to wind down the racing season as November arrives and winter looms again.
Bonus suggestions: There are also a few races that I haven't run, so I can't officially recommend them, but they remain on my wish list. Here they are, without comment: Kettletown 50K, Traprock 50K, Bimbler's Bluff 50K, Steep Rock Half, Tackle the Trail 20M, Macedonia Trail Race 50K, and the Mohawk Mountain Marathon.
Finally, I'm not an egomaniac... so I won't be "that guy" who nominates his own race in the list up there. But I do hope you'll enjoy the 5 Tribe 5K in Monroe this May, and maybe consider adding it to your own. Check it out if you'd like, and happy running!
P.S. Any I missed? Share your picks in a comment!