Trail race returns to Destruction Brook Woods
Destruction Brook Woods saw a surge in its typical foot traffic on Saturday as dozens of runners ran through fallen leaves and over rocks for the Dartmouth Natural Resource Trust’s eighth annual trail race — the first full race since 2019.
Due to the pandemic, things had to be conducted virtually for one of the land trust’s largest fundraisers over the past two years. Instead, racers were able to choose from three courses instead of all grouping together at the spot near Russells Mills Village.
“It was definitely popular in 2020,” said DNRT Outreach Specialist Kendra Parker. “Last year it definitely lost that novelty as many people wanted to get back in person.”
It was certainly an ideal day for a return to normalcy, as runners were given a 70-degree November day with minimal breeze, along with plenty of fall foliage along the routes.
This year saw around 150 runners and walkers race through fur property off Slades Corner Road. Runners took off down 3.3 miles of winding leaf-strewn paths, while those walking set off on a 2.4-mile course around the serene brook.
When the race first began in 2015, it was held at the Slocum’s River Reserve and runners had to follow Horseneck Road for about a mile to switch between reserves. The switch to Destruction Brook occurred in 2017, a decision Parker noted was definitely for the better.
“It’s a great place for running: there are wide and flat trails and not a lot of rocks in routes like some of our other properties,” she said. “Plus we have a lot of parking here.”
New this year was a chip racers had on their bibs that activated the moment they hit the trail — something DNRT Executive Director Nick Wildman said was very popular among the runners.
He noted that it serves as a good way to have a better time for runners who might have gotten a less advantageous starting position at the beginning (or for any stragglers who missed the official start).
“Theoretically you could start after everyone leaves and still win,” Wildman said.
Thankfully for New Bedford runner Keith Nadeau, all runners began at the same time so none could usurp him on the trail in order to get his first place finish. Naudeau finished in roughly 20 minutes, averaging a 6 minute pace over the 3.4-mile run.
The New Bedford runner said he was very happy to get the win, noting that he was just beat out during the 2019 race. Nadeau noted that he typically races in events that can go up to 100 miles.
“This was like a good, shorter training day,” he said.
The top female finisher was Dartmouth resident Stacy Clark, who said this was her first time racing through Destruction Brook Woods. She finished after approximately 27 minutes, with an 8-minute 18-second pace.
Two weeks ago, she said she did an ultramarathon in Rhode Island and signed up after her friend Jim Butler suggested running the trail race.
“I figured why not?” Clark said. “This was a lot smoother than the other race.”
She said her primary strategy in the quick finish was to just focus on running, leaving her friend behind.
“I told her if I hold her up to just go,” Butler said with a laugh. “And she did — I didn’t think she’d take me literally.”
Other notable finishers included Will Fairfax, a junior at Dartmouth High who finished first among males under 19, and nine-year old Lena Gardner — the fastest female under the age of 19.
“I just jogged,” Gardner said.
Proceeds from the event went to the non-profit land trust to support its mission of preserving and protecting Dartmouth’s natural resources.
Parker noted that while this is the last of the big fundraisers this year, the land trust still has a lot of events and walks for the final two months of 2022.
“Still plenty to do,” she said.