The Soapstone Mountain Trail Races are popular, long-standing races in North Central Connecticut. 2016 marks the 32th year for the Soapstone events. This year the 22k is designated as the RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) "cross-country" CT championships.
There are two races on event day: a 22k (approx. 13.5 miles) and a 6k "Sampler" run featuring a handicap start. Both races run through the extremely beautiful and scenic area around Soapstone Mountain, Shenipsit Forest State Park. Participants in the 22k race climb to the peak of Soapstone Mountain. The races are put on every year by the Shenipsit Striders, a 40 year old trail running club in north-central Connecticut.
In the past we have called the long course 24k but after some course changes over the years due to trail relocations the course is closer to 13.5 miles or 22k so that is what we'll call it for now.
We also offer a FREE kids trail race. There is a 1/2 mile option and a 1 mile option. Sign-up for the kids race is day-of. The race starts at 12 noon.
The 22k is a mass start. The 6k "Sampler" is a handicap start based on age and gender. Distinctive handmade trophies go to the top finishers in each age catagory; Under 40, 40 - 49, 50 - 59 and 60+ for men and woman for the 22K. Trophies go to the top three overall for the Sampler. Everyone gets the satisfaction of completing the course.
Walkers are welcome in the Sampler. There are cutoff times in the 22K for the safety of all. The cut off is 2 hours at Aid Station 2 (~7 miles) and 3 hours at Aid Station 3(~11.5 miles). Please be sure to come fit and ready to run.
The first mile of the 22k travels along a slightly downhill dirt road before turning sharply onto a more 'traditional' hiking trail. From there it starts a slow accent towards Soapstone Mountain. After crossing the first road, the trail makes another sharp right where participants are challenged with the first difficult climb - a very steep 1/2 mile trail named "Killer Hill". Once at the top of the hill, runners travel by the Soapstone Mountain observation tower and then run down a steep descent. Following the downhill, the trail becomes a series of switchbacks and rollers through the woods - though it's challenging, the rollers aren't steep enough to dramatically alter one's overall pace. There are brook crossings and a muddy stream descent. There are lots of rocks and roots to twist ankles on. Watch your footing! Towards the latter half of the race, the course has one more significant climb up a single track, followed by a steep descent on a dirt trail continuing on dirt road and finishing on single track to end the race in a grassy field surrounded by friends and family. The entire course is marked with painted white dots on rocks and trees. In areas where the trail splits or is tricky there will be additional flagging.
6k "SAMPLER" Course
This race starts on the same dirt road as the 22k but turns right onto single track within a 1/2 mile and then meanders through thick forest before crossing the same dirt road into a sand pit, back onto single track trail, some more dirt road and finishing on grassy field. The course is well marked wirh flagging and signs.
The race venue is very family friendly. There are horses to view, trails to hike and open fields to run in. Following the race is a fabulous vegetarian meal for all runners and volunteers (family and friends can eat for a donation of $5 per person). Bring a lawn chair and stay the day. We encourage you to also bring your own bowl, spoon and cup to cut down on waster and help the environment. .
The 22k start is at 9am. The Sampler starts at 9:10am. A free kids race begins at 12 noon.
There is race day entry with an increase in price to $30 for the 22k and $15 for the 6k. Day-of registration and bib pickup begins at 7:45am.
It is best to hang out at the finish line where Sampler runners will be crossing the line in the first hour and the 22k runners will appear around 11am. It you want to see the 22k competitors running, the best place to watch is at Gulf Road parking lot or on top of Soapstone Mountain at the fire tower. You can drive or hike to the top of Soapstone. Runners cross over the top on the way out and near to top on the way back. If you would like to see your runner out on the course, volunteering at an aid station, is a great way to do it. Contact Debbie (RD) if you would like to volunteer or you have a friend that would. Volunteers get free food.
Local time: 5:21 AM