169 Towns #66: Stafford

May 21st, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #66: Stafford

169 Towns #66: Stafford

It had been awhile since I’d had a chance to do a trail race, and with perfect weather—cool with a nice mist in the air—this was a great opportunity to get back into it. With all of the announcements about the markings on the course, I was worred this might be another poorly marked fiasco, but it turns out they really did know what they were doing, and it was very well marked. Lots of single-track, some dirt roads, and even a hand-over-hand ascent up a sand hill, made for an interesting race, and it was a fun day. There’s something special about the combination of mental and physical test you’re put through in a trail race. The tasty chili at the end was a plus, too.

Soapstone Mountain Race 6K Sampler | 6K | 5/20/18 | 34:59 | 66/169

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169 Towns #65: Old Saybrook

May 7th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #65: Old Saybrook

169 Towns #65: Old Saybrook

With the long-awaited turn to nice weather, it was time to get back out with Grace and do another 5K. The course was pretty flat, and we did a good combination of walking and running. This time around, though, there was more wondering aloud and bargaining about how long the race was, how long it would be until we could walk again, and so on. Maybe the novelty is gone, and now it’s just the not particularly fun activity of running for 30+ minutes, who knows. She did a great job, though, and still seemed up for the idea of another one afterwards, which is good. Lucy did the very brief fun run, and the girls both enjoyed some crafts courtesy of the volunteers.

Seaside Shuffle | 5K | 5/6/18 | 34:38 | 65/169

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169 Towns #64: Waterford

April 8th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #64: Waterford

169 Towns #64: Waterford

I’m at the point (about a third of the way through the towns) where I’m sometimes not completely certain whether I’ve run a race in any given town. If you’d told me I’d run in Waterford before, I’d probably believed you, but apparently I hadn’t.

40° is about my lower limit for shorts and t-shirt, and it was supposed to be about there today, but by the time I got to the race location, the wind was blowing, and I discovered that the course was along the coast, which turned out, unsurprisingly, to be pretty cold. I kept up, and felt pretty good, but as I got near the finish and was only at 2 miles by my watch, I was a little confused. We were directed to run a loop near the end one more time, but even that didn’t bring us up to 3.1m. So, everyone had a nice little treat, and we ran a 2.3m 5K.

Run to Recovery | 5K (2.3m) | 4/7/18 | 18:42 | 64/169

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169 Towns #63: Litchfield

February 18th, 2018 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #63: Litchfield

169 Towns #63: Litchfield

It had been two months to the day since I’d run a race, and while a 5 miler wasn’t perhaps the best way to come back from some time off, it fit into the schedule. My time off had been due a combination of the busy holiday season and weather-related lack of races, and also because I’d pulled something in my left hip while pushing too hard after a week off over Christmas in Alaska.

I felt well enough to get back into things, and as always, today’s race was the one on the calendar that took place in a town I hadn’t run in before, that was early enough in the day to not be too disruptive, and close enough that I wouldn’t be gone all morning. The race was well organized and an obviously popular annual event. I tried to pace myself, but having been out of it for a few months, combined with my general inability to pace myself on races over 5K, I flagged near the end, but still felt like I put in a decent time. It was a little chilly, but could have been worse.

Sweetheart Run | 5M | 2/17/18 | 41:38 | 63/169

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169 Towns #62: Fairfield

December 17th, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #62: Fairfield

169 Towns #62: Fairfield

I arrived at the Scandinavian Club just a few minutes before the start, with just enough time to register, drop off my donated toy, head back to my car to drop my wallet and keys, and run back to the starting line. I can tell you there is not a lot of parking down in that particular neck of Fairfield… We started the race running through the back alleys down by the water, which would have been fun to do the whole race, but wasn’t to be. I managed to pick off a few folks I was running with, though the cold temperatures today were not conducive to a speedy race. I somehow managed my fastest 5K since June, but I have a feeling the course was little short. It felt good to get one more race in before the end of the year, and the soup, chips, and salsa after the finish was a first. The race was nicely organized and friendly, with some good costumes going on.

I ended my second full year of the 169 Towns challenge with 25 more in my belt over the course of the year. Overall, I ran 27 races in the year, so I’ve been sticking pretty closely to the new towns, with only the annual Leatherman’s Loop and Bagel Race as returning races. We’ll see what the new year brings!

Holiday Run for Toys | 5K | 12/17/17 | 22:25 | 62/169

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169 Towns #61: Killingly

December 10th, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #61: Killingly

169 Towns #61: Killingly

Killingly may not technically be the farthest away as the crow flies, but it’s close when it comes to how long it takes to actually get there, a combination of sheer distance and also removal from either I-84 or I-395. It was about an hour and a half to get out to this corner of the state, on a quiet morning after our first snow of the season, a decent snowfall that actually covered everything and looked great.

The race was at Ellis Tech High School, perhaps the first high school I’ve been to that backs into a small plane airstrip. We were informed that if we managed to beat the race organizer, who referred to himself as “Jingles Tinseltoes” and was dressed as an elf and gave us all a one-minute head start, we’d be presented with a certificate attesting to that fact. Not many managed to—just six—and I wasn’t one of them… But thanks to his status as a pacer, he didn’t end up counting in our age group, so hey, I managed a second place finish. I tried hard to stay ahead of him, and then catch up with him, which helped push me to what felt like a pretty fast finish.

Reindeer Dash | 2.5M | 12/10/17 | 19:45 | 61/169

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169 Towns #60: Weston

October 29th, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #60: Weston

169 Towns #60: Weston

This was not the greatest day for a race, but I’ve been pretty lucky over the year, so I didn’t mind. It was a rainy day, and I misjudged when and where the 5K would start, not realizing the half marathon would start a good five minutes before our race. We all stood around waiting for the half runners to run by us before we, the few 5Kers, got to start. We were all going to get wet anyway, but it wasn’t a great way to start. It was a fine, if uneventful race. I didn’t feel particularly fast today, and wasn’t. 60 feels like a pretty big number, but 109 left to go also sounds pretty daunting.

Reservoir Run | 5K | 10/29/17 | 23:44 | 60/169

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169 Towns #59: Portland

October 14th, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #59: Portland

#59 Portland: Zombie Run

It didn’t turn out to have too much of a zombie element to it, but I really enjoyed the setting of this race, which ran in part along the old Portland Brownstone Quarries, a National Historic Landmark. The course passed the quarries and then meandered through a few neighborhoods before ending up back at the park where it began.

Portland Zombie Run | 5K | 10/14/17 | 23:26 | 59/169

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169 Towns #58: Seymour

October 7th, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #58: Seymour

#58 Seymour: Pounding the Pavement for Pink 5K

While my dad ended up injuring himself before the race, meaning we didn’t have three generations of runners represented, I was happy to have the chance to run with Grace again, in her second 5K. She did great, though the course was tougher than the previous race we ran together, and the hills took their toll on us early. There was quite a crowd, the biggest race I’d run since the Manchester Road Race last year, and we enjoyed watching the crazy costumes and enthusiastic cheering sections. Grace ran and walked in half and half proportions, I’d say, and had a great finishing kick that surprised us both, I think.

Pounding the Pavement for Pink | 5K | 10/7/17 | 37:39 | 58/169

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169 Towns #57: Warren

September 30th, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #57: Warren

#57 Warren: Cider Run 5K

A nice race in the woods in Litchfield County, with cider and cider doughnuts to cap it off. I felt pretty good, especially as I was able to pass and hold off some locals who seemed like they might be in my age group, where I managed to come in third. The race was pretty heavily attended by fellow 169ers, now somehow numbering 2300, at least according to the list online.

9th Annual Warren Cider Run | 5K | 9/30/17 | 22:59 | 57/169

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169 Towns #56: Lisbon

September 23rd, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #56: Lisbon


After hopping onto 395, it was only about ten minutes from Bozrah to Lisbon, where I pulled into the parking lot of the Lisbon Fall Festival with 15 minutes to spare before the start. I found the registration table, got a number, dashed back to my car to drop my wallet, and got in the starting pack.

The race was a simple out and back, mostly flat except for the long slight uphill to the finish. I wasn’t too concerned with going fast, but I did feel fairly well warmed up. Between the additional .3 miles on top of the 5K my body had become accustomed to, and the fact that I’d just finished a race a half hour before, it was a little rough, but I managed a decent finish.

Lisbon Fall Festival Road Race | 3.5M | 9/23/17 | 27:47 | 56/169

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169 Towns #55: Bozrah

September 23rd, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #55: Bozrah


Connecticut’s towns have some great names, and it seems to me Bozrah is right up there near the top. Bozrah is noted as an elusive town according to the club, so I was happy to be able to knock this one out. It was a nice little town run, starting and finishing at the fire station, and running out to a cul-de-sac in a business park before heading back in. I tried catching some of the people I was running with, but just wasn’t feeling it today, and got the sense that the town’s cross-country team was out in force, with a lot of fast kids in the race.

After we finished, the race officials made an announcement explaining that if people had to get on to their next race, their awards would be held for pickup later. I had never heard of the town of Lisbon, but it seemed like a lot of people were heading there, so I looked up the race schedule (starts in a half hour) and the map (12 minutes away) and decided to go for it. I’d down two races in a weekend before, but never two in a day.

Big Gary’s Bozrah Fire Co. Road Race | 5K | 9/23/17 | 23:34 | 55/169

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169 Towns #54: Newington

September 16th, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #54: Newington

#54 Newington: Dom's Run 5K

This was a small race, a nice little town course around a park and a loop through a quiet neighborhood, finishing around a pond in the park. I felt pretty good, and as the race went on, I kept some fellow runners in my sights. I passed four guys I could tell were older than I…but naturally, as the race went on, I got passed by two of them in the final half mile, where I always tend to peter out. I ended up second in my age group but just 6 seconds, and never quite had the gas to catch that guy ahead of me.

Dom’s Run | 5K | 9/16/17 | 22:345 | 54/169

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169 Towns #53: Monroe

September 10th, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #53: Monroe

#53 Monroe: Chasing Ciara's Light 5K

Before the race began, I was standing around with another group of 169 club runners, talking about previous races, and particular, about that race a few months back that was poorly marked enough for a bunch of us to end up running neither the short distance nor the long distance, but something in between, because we followed a mixture of both courses. Surely, a screwup of that nature, with poorly marked directions and people not knowing where they were going, couldn’t happen again…

Flash forward to the start. We had just watched the kids race do a loop around the parking lot, and after lining up at the start line, the entire pack of 100+ runners took off and started running around that same parking lot, in the opposite direction. Not 10 seconds into the race, I heard someone shouting, “You’re going the wrong way! Turn this way!” It took a second to understand that they were talking to all of us, not just one or two people who had gone the wrong way, and I quickly did an about face, ran over a grassy median and through some bushes, and off onto the trail that they had intended, but not exactly marked, for us to go on.

I couldn’t tell exactly where I was with regard to other runners, because not only did we have the course confusion, but we also had two different distances running sometimes on the same course, sometimes not. But after another moment where two volunteers had arrows pointing in two different directions at a single intersection, I settled in and enjoyed the trail course. At a certain point, I and other runners near me noticed a heavily marked route doubling back, heading off to our right, but with no arrows pointing and no volunteers around it wasn’t clear if we should be going there at this point, or if we would eventually hit that before heading into the finish. I saw runners ahead of me, and followed after them, until I actually saw someone who I knew was ahead of me running back towards us, and we all started talking about how we didn’t know where we were going. We kept running out on this long, straight road, until we realize that it was leading us towards the exit of the park, at which point we decided that this was probably not the right direction, and that we should just turn around. As we did, the hundred or so other participants of the race were all running toward us, and we had to tell them to turn around, and that we didn’t know where we were going. Once we got back to the junction and saw the heavily marked trail heading to our left, we were told to take it. Why there hadn’t been any race volunteer to tell us to turn there originally, I don’t know.

I have never been in a race that felt this much like a circus, with absolutely no one knowing where they should be going, and no help from any volunteers. I eventually ran out to the turnaround, which was well marked and volunteered, and headed back in to the finish line. As I headed in, I heard an announcer announcing the runners who were finishing, and I realized as I got closer, that there was only one runner ahead of me. As I headed into the chute, I heard the announcer say “And in second place…” This didn’t make sense, because it was supposed to be a 5K and my watch read somewhere around 32 minutes, but the whole thing was such a mess no one knew what to make of it. My disappointment at the confusion of the race turned to amusement and disbelief, as I somehow finished in second overall, to a 13-year-old, in a 5K that was actually more like 4 miles.

The timing company staff asked us how they should rank runners, but it was clear that pretty much no one ran the same distance as anyone else. We all turned around at different points, and it was going to be impossible to determine places. I was followed in the men’s division by a 50 something-year-old guy, and the winner of the women’s race was in her 70s, so the whole thing was a memorable mess.

Chasing Ciara’s Light 5K | 5K (4 miles) | 9/9/17 | 31:33 | 53/169

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169 Towns #52: Wethersfield

August 27th, 2017 · Comments Off on 169 Towns #52: Wethersfield

#52 Wethersfield: Old Wethersfield 5K

Apparently Old Wethersfield isn'[t actually a town, according to the official list of Connecticut’s 169 towns, but this race, held in Wethersfield proper, is known as the Old Wethersfield 5K, so there you go. My mom accompanied the girls and me to the race, and the girls each got to run in their own fun runs (Grace 1 mile, Lucy a half mile) after my race. I felt pretty good, and took part in a lot of jockeying that went on throughout the race through the beautiful town streets, which were completely blocked off to traffic. It was a fast race—we were all a little disheartened when we saw the leader zipping around the corner heading back the other way as we were all heading down along the town green. I managed to keep up a pretty good pace, and surprised myself by finishing in 22:44 (good enough for second in my age group and a lovely pint glass).

Old Wethersfield 5K | 5K | 8/27/17 | 22:44 | 52/169

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