The Fall Fling: Camp Sloper offers a break from the road race season

Runners gather for the start of the 5K race at the Fall Fling at YMCA Camp Sloper.

Runners gather for the start of the 5K race at the Fall Fling at YMCA Camp Sloper.

By BRIAN JENNINGS

STAFF WRITER

The Connecticut Trailmixers offers a cross country option for runners looking for something different during Connecticut’s autumn road race schedule, and YMCA Camp Sloper is the perfect venue.

On Sunday, Nov. 13, the Southington YMCA hosted the first ever Fall Fling Trail Runs at Camp Sloper. Several races were offered through the trails of Camp Sloper, but the primary race options included the 400-minute—6 hours, 40 minutes—ultra run, 5K, and one-mile kids run.

The turnout for the event exceeded expectations. The original goal was to get about 50 runners for the ultra run, but the Fall Fling attracted about 150 runners total across the three events. There were about 70 participants in the 400-minute ultra run, and approximately 70 for the 5k race.

“I was hoping we’d see some people surpass the 26.2-mile marathon distance and reach ultramarathon distance,” said race director, Michael Lo Presti. “I’m thrilled to report that several people exceeded that.”

The 400-minute run trail included a technical two-mile trail loop with moderately rolling hills. Parts of the course were covered with rocks and roots, while other sections were smoother. The total elevation gain for each loop was approximately 275 feet. Four hundred-minute run participants completed as many two-mile loops as they wanted within the six-hour timeframe.

Tony Bonanno and Tim Goric tied one another with 38 miles after they finished the 400 Ultra Run, followed by Art Bryant (36), Matt Silberberg (36), Joe Laskey (34), Patrick Turek (32), Michelle Corrigan (30), Michelle Currier (30), Jennifer Kanaitis (30), David Radcliffe (30), and Joshua Saraceno (30).

“Our three female winners all ran 30 miles each, and our two male winners both ran 38 miles, but everyone went into the race with different objectives,” said Lo Presti. “For some people, they wanted to run the two-mile trail loop once and get that first taste of a trail race, and they accomplished their goals as well.”

Participants in the 5K race ran one loop of a separate course at Camp Sloper that combined some of the same trails with hills, fields, and woods. But it wasn’t too much to handle for the members of Southington High School’s cross country program, as they graced the podium.

Mark Murdy (17:16) took first, followed by Conner Leone (17:17), Tom Murdy (17:34), Sean Suiter (17:39), Jordan McMeans (17:44), Adam Theriault (18:22), Ryan Slesinski (19:20), and Matt Penna (20:01). Isabella Scalise (21:16) was the top female in the race.

The cross country program will travel to Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls, New York on Saturday, Nov. 26 for the Nike Cross Northeast Regional Championships, and head coach Dan Dachelet said that this was just what the team needed to prepare for the event.

“Camp Sloper is a great flat course at the end of the year,” said Dachelet. “There were some fast times and personal records. We needed a hard day and did this instead of a workout.”

The one-mile kids run featured a one-trail loop around the pond, but only a handful of youngsters turned out for the race.

“We’re going to see if we can somehow get more people,” said John Myers, executive director of the Southington YMCA. “I think I have to work more with the local elementary schools. A lot of them have their own running clubs, so we’re going to see if we can get them out.”

Lo Presti said that the CT Trailmixers and Southington YMCA had a simple two-pronged vision for this event: to put on a trail race that let people run whatever distance they wanted for however long they wanted, and to give them such a great experience that they’d want to run it again next year. Based on the feedback they heard, they delivered on this vision.

“It was wonderful to show more people, both in Southington and elsewhere, the beauty of trail running and the wonderful trail system maintained by John (Myers) and the YMCA team at Camp Sloper,” the race director said. “It’s a wonderful venue, and John and the YMCA have been terrific partners for the CT Trailmixers running club.”

The CT Trailmixers are a trail running club based in central Connecticut. Their members are passionate about sharing Connecticut’s many wonderful trails with friends and visitors, and the trails at YMCA Camp Sloper offer a wide variety of beautiful terrain with varying difficult levels. For more information on the CT Trailmixers, visit www.cttrailmixers.com. And special thanks to the Southington Community YMCA?for their partnership.

“The nature of the CT Trailmixers, consistent with our mission, is to bring the thrill and beauty of trail running to more people, and to make the sport more accessible,” said Lo Presti. “This includes giving people the opportunity to reach new mileage and distance goals. So we designed the race and the course so that if someone wanted to use it to run their first marathon or ultramarathon, they could. I love that fact that several people did just that.”

To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at bjennings@southingtonobserver.com.

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