SOUTHINGTON â€“ The trails at YMCAâ€™s Camp Sloper were trodden by about 150 pairs of feet Sunday, during the CT Trailmixers Fall Fling event.
Of those, 110 belonged to runners in a 400-minute race, which challenged them to complete as many two-mile loops as possible within that time slot.
The top finishers â€“ those who ran the highest number of miles â€“ were Jeffrey Mitchell and Joshua Stockdale, at 40 miles each. Top female finisher Sarah Ports of Lebanon ran 18 loops, or 36 miles.
Madison resident Aaron Bova came in third overall, completing 19 laps.
Participants enjoyed bright sunshine and crisp fall air as they ran all morning and into the early part of the afternoon.
â€śIt was awesome,â€ť Bova said. â€śThe nice, chilly air was perfect for running and the sun felt awesome coming around the lake.â€ť
This marked the clubâ€™s third event at Camp Sloper, revered by participants for its easy trail system and scenic landscape.
â€śItâ€™s a really nice place to run with beautiful trails,â€ť Berlin resident Jake Fisher said.
He had previously spent time on the land, but never for as long as he did Sunday.
â€śI did 28 miles today, which is the longest Iâ€™ve ever run in my life, so Iâ€™m pretty psyched,â€ť Fisher added.
He praised the club, which is known among the stateâ€™s running circles for its encouraging membership and for hosting fun activities.
â€śCamaraderie defines our group,â€ť Carina Halloran of Southington explained. â€śEverybody is really positive and supportive of each other.â€ť
After their final laps runners stood by the finish line, catching their breaths. Meanwhile, they cheered on fellow participants coming through.
â€śItâ€™s just a great group of people â€“ really encouraging and supportive,â€ť said Ports, who took home an apple pie and a handmade medal for her win.
Mitchell and Stockdale also had their pick of pies, donated by a local farm.
Other participants were happy simply for the opportunity to complete their own personal challenges outdoors, on a beautiful fall day.
â€śI love the challenge,â€ť Meriden resident Clay Frost pointed out. â€śGetting outside and pushing myself.â€ť
Sundayâ€™s was his first-ever trail race. When asked if heâ€™d do it again, Frost said, â€śDefinitely.â€ť
The 400 offers both new and seasoned runners a different kind of test, according to Race Director Michael LoPresti, president of the CT Trailmixers.
â€śIt gives people the flexibility to run for as long as they want,â€ť LoPresti explained. â€śThe intent is to give you an easy, flexible way to give trail running a try, or to complete a big race. Some people do this in preparation for a marathon.â€ť
About 40 others took part in a 5K race early that morning. The route incorporated some of the same trails as the 400.
CT Trailmixers member Julie Logan joined fellow volunteers on the sidelines. They provided runners with homemade snacks and water as they completed laps.
â€śWeâ€™re all about positive vibes here,â€ť Logan said.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.