‘The biggest one we’ve had’: 9th annual trail race brings more runners than ever

Nov 19, 2023

While the day mostly stayed dry, the sporadic rain on Saturday, Nov. 18 had some unfortunate timing for the Dartmouth Natural Resources’ 9th annual trail race: “As soon as the race started, it started raining,” said Kendra Parker, Development and Outreach Specialist at DNRT. 

Runner Kevin Traver, from Plymouth, said he had to slow down and walk at one particularly slippery portion.

“It was kind of weird, you could see everyone had at least five or six slip moves, or gyrations,” Traver said. 

But despite the imperfect weather, DNRT brought out the most runners in the trail race’s history — 175 people signed up in advance, and an extra 45 signed up Saturday. Parker partially attributes the record-smashing success to the addition of a 10-mile option, which 55 challenge-seeking runners chose. 

“We’re making history today — this is a record turnout, this is a historic field,” said Nick Wildman, Executive Director at DNRT. 

In first place for the new 10-mile route were Paul Connolly with a time of 1:07:20 and Gwen Taradash with a time of 1:29:52. For the 5-mile route, Merle Durant finished in 19:25 and Nancy McGee finished at 23:06. Winners of this year’s race received Dick’s Sporting Goods gift cards.

The 10-mile route was not only a first for the Trust, but for some of the runners too: Dartmouth High alumnus Oliver Taradash was dragged out by his sister Gwen to his first 10-mile run. He was able to keep the pace though, and the two siblings finished just 30 seconds apart. 

In order for trail runners to have a trail to run on, a team of volunteers needs to prep the route beforehand. Richard Mello, part of the volunteer team, spent Friday clearing out the trail and laying down wood chips for traction. After putting in the work, Mello gets to run on race day with everyone else. 

“You can kind of enjoy the fruits of your labor with a lot of people,” Mello said. “I got to see people that I haven’t seen in a while — I get to interact with them in a different setting.”

Mello said it’s critical, though, that DNRT hosts a “chip” race, meaning runners have their own start and finish time rather than all racing on the same clock. That system keeps the trails less crowded and allows runners to choose their own start: “It makes things a whole lot safer,” Mello said. 

The trail race has become one of the primary fundraisers for the Natural Resources Trust, but it also brings in “a different crowd,” Parker said. 

“This brings in people that might not otherwise know about DNRT, they’re either just runners or just trail runners,” Parker said. “Through [the race], we’ve had quite a few people become members of DNRT.”

“It’s both a fundraiser and a friendraiser,” Wildman said. 

After the race, the Trust offered free beer and Kombucha for the finished runners. 

“It’s just a fun event,” Mello said. “I look forward to it every year.”

“There are people that have done it every year,” Wildman said. “It’s just kind of part of the season.”

Join the Natural Resources Trust next for a post-Thanksgiving walk on Nov. 24 at 9 a.m at Dike Creek Reserve.