Pachaug Trail Marathon–Voluntown, CT

As we all know, 2020 has brought its own set of challenges and running & triathlon racing  has not been the priority.  However, the US is starting to reopen, in stages.  Each state is responsible for its own guidelines and like with all things, some states are more lenient than others.  If you are willing to travel and/or do some self quarantining, you *might* actually be able to run a race.  In person.  With other living humans.  Last weekend I ran 2 marathons.  A trail marathon in Connecticut & a road marathon in Rhode Island.  Let’s talk trails!! 

The Pachaug Trail Marathon was in Pachaug State Park on Saturday, October 24, 2020 in Voluntown, CT.  There was a 50K, marathon and half marathon.  Each race was limited to 100 participants.  The temperature of each participant & volunteer was taken the morning of the event.  Each race took off at a different time.  Runners were staggered & wore masks at the start/finish & aid stations.  Lots of added procedure to ensure the safety of the participants, staff & volunteers. 

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This is a small race.  I’m not really sure how I found it but its been on my list for over a year.  Normally, the event features a 50 miler, marathon & half marathon.  However, this year the 50m was downgraded to a 50K for safety reasons and to keep the event moving/quick due to Covid-19 concerns. My race schedule is a lot about timing around the kid schedules.  I don’t usually read too much about races.  I like the element of surprise and want to experience it for myself without too many preconceived notions about quality, difficulty, etc.  So, with that being said, I knew this was a trail race and that it would be hard.  I knew that there was “about” 2400 ft of climbing.  I also knew that we started by climbing Mt. Misery.  That should have been foreshadowing.  If you follow me on Instagram or FB, then you’ve seen some of the photos.  But let it suffice to say, that this was a difficult race. I have a new PW (personal worst) for trail running performance.  But we made it to the finish line safely and as someone so kindly mentioned, we received the same finishers medal as the person who finished first.   First climb of the day, Mt. Misery. 

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Photo credit – Jen C. 

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Photo from the Live Loud Running page.

Big rocks, boulders & tree roots were the foundation for this trail run.  Apparently in Connecticut, the Pachaug Trail is very well groomed & runnable.  If you are from the flatlands of Indiana or Illinois, then you probably haven’t seen anything quite this technical. 

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We spent a lot of time walking/hiking/climbing.

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The venue for the run was in Pachaug State Park.  Over the course of the marathon we hit the Pachaug, Nehantic & Quinebaug trails. The double loop marathon course also took us up/down Mt Misery, Breakneck Hill & onto Hell Hallow Road.  As road runners we love our roads.  Up/down or otherwise, the terrain is usually good! 

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It was a beautiful run.  Very scenic.  Most of the climbs were manageable.

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But as I mentioned previously, we spent a lot of time hiking vs running.  I love my trail shoes but if I were to do this again, I’d go with something a lot thicker on the sole.  My feet were pulverized by the rocks.  Plus our ankles and all the stabilizing muscles/tendons really took a beating due to our overall lack of grace when it comes to traversing rocky terrain.

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Overall, great race.  Great experience.  But we were slow, plus we hit a few wrong turns!  There were only 2 aid stations on the loop, then one at the start/finish.  Everyone carried hydration packs and that was very necessary since the aid stations were spaced out and the time it took between aid stations was pretty long, particularly for us since we were riding the struggle bus. 

We did have a slight issue on loop 2.  We hit the 2nd loop with plenty of time to spare but we were last.  Like DFL (dead fuc*ing last) and the Balloon Ladies sweepers were following us, cleaning up the signs and markers.  We were kissing the cutoff times & the first aid station had been cleaned up before we got there.  Slight stress since some of the crew was out of water but the 2nd aid station was waiting for us.  THANK YOU!  Everyone was super nice.  And we even had a lady in a truck that kept meeting us at intersections, checking on us, who was kind enough to tell us to “take our time”.  Very thankful that we were able to finish.  We did beat the cutoff for the entire race, which was 8 hrs.  We finished in 7:41.  Yes, new PW.  As my buddy Todd so kindly pointed out, if my PW keeps increasing, it will eventually get to the point where it will be UNBEATABLE.  Why thank you, thank you for that. 

Thanks to the Indiana/Illinois crew who traveled & ran with me.  No idea how I have any friends after some of these “adventures” but this crew usually shows up to either bail me out or suffer with me.  Thanks, guys!! Me, Matt, Julie & Todd.

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SWAG – Buffs are all the rage now.  Who knew that 2020 would be the “year of the buff”. 

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Pachaug was my 58th marathon (or longer) & my 34th of the 50 states.  Connecticut is in the DONE column.  Beautiful part of the country.  I’ll definitely go back!

**  Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

2 thoughts on “Pachaug Trail Marathon–Voluntown, CT

  1. AWESOME JOB!!!! Still wish I was there with you guys…… but right now good to read this , as this is one of the few things motivating me….. Keep up the great running!!

  2. Great you got #58 done in CT! I guess if anything in racing/running would qualify safe to do it would be a small field event on single track trail. I don’t accept the PW or “worst” designatioin…as time/duration is only one metric. Trails with rocks, boulders, roots and narrow can be quite tough on leg muscles, not to mention the elevation changes. 7-8 hrs is a long time to be at it – I call those kinds of endurance events “a day at the office” as you essentially spending the time most people do in a day of work. And in many respects it is not easy to devote 7 hrs 41 mins to keeping at it to cover the distance and get to the finish. Sticking out something you started and keeping at it to the finish…is doing your best! Me…not pursuing marathons or running events much until this COVID pandmania is over…and that won’t happen until vaccine developed, approved and in wide distribution. Meanwhile do the best you can…like you did…and be proud of what you accomplished. In retrospect…I think I would have enjoyed doing this one with your team! I probably would have just used my 5-mi fast-walk and 5-min run strategy. Take a break this winter!

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