“Muck the fud!” was a common phrase heard at the end of last year’s inaugural TARC 100. You see, on beautiful, dry spring and summer days, the course in Weston, Mass., is 25 miles of open trail, typically very runnable, with the potential for folks to run really fast. When the race began (at 7:00 PM on Friday), the sun was out, and the temperatures were ideal.
Most people had forgotten about the biblical proportions of rain we had received in the week leading up to this run (myself included: I told the runners that the course dries pretty quickly). Once the nearly 300 runners made it out onto the course however, there were sections that turned into a quagmire of mud, with some runners sinking nearly to their waists! They had signed up for an “easy” 100-miler and had gotten a 100-mile Tough Mudder to boot.
The mud was a not insignificant reason why my fellow race directors, Bob “Diesel-san” Crowley and Mark Kruger, and I decided to move this year’s race to a new home. Weston also plays host to our Spring Classic (quickly approaching on April 26th!) and we wanted a chance to show-off some more of metro Boston’s wooded gems. Enter the Hale Reservation.
Hale has a stated mission to “Provide stewardship of its land and resources and to offer educational experiences that foster responsibility, leadership and appreciation for the natural environment.” It provides summer camp experiences for 4,400 children from all over metro Boston on its 1,130 acres. Add to this good work an extensive trail system and the adjoining Noanet Woodlands and Powisset Farm (both Trustees of Reservations properties), and we knew we had found the new home for the TARC 100.
So what will runners see this year that will make the course and event even better than last?
First, the course, which has been diligently and beautifully designed by TARCers Chris “C3” Martin and Paul Blankman. Where Weston was bucolic and wooded, the new TARC 100 & 50 course features a couple of steep climbs, open vistas, skyline views of downtown Boston, historic sights, ponds, and beaches. And where last year’s course had about four miles of “two-way” traffic, this year it is down to less than a mile or so. We’ll have two aid stations on beaches, one at a beautiful trading post (the arrival to which actually reminded me somewhat of approaching a hut in the Whites!), and one on a farm.
Second, the experience. Last year we had a 7:00 p.m. start. We got rid of that this year for the more traditional early-morning commencement. In part, this was done so that the course will close around midday on Sunday, giving people a chance to come together and celebrate their epic adventures. And, to top it off, the start/finish is smack dab on a beautiful beach, so, even if it is muddy, you can jump right in the water and wash off (or if your family is hanging around, they can get a nice suntan, or little ones can dig around in the sand)! The course is also set up so that each aid station will only be used once on each 25-mile loop. There will be four “manned” aid stations and one water-only drop, so you’ll never have to go more than about five miles without some sort of aid.
As we prepare for the race, we have an added level of “ownership” as well. As Hale has become the new home of the race, TARC is taking some responsibility for maintaining the trails on the property. We’ve already spent a winter day clearing brush and, now that the trails are clear, will be out building additional trails in the weeks leading up to the race. And, beginning on April 5th, we are hosting regular training runs on the course, led by the course designers themselves!
For all of us involved behind the scenes, the TARC 100 is a true labor of love. The race itself was years in the making, and it has only become a more important part of my personal experience as both a runner and a person, as I’ve seen it add positively to this crazy community of trail runners around New England I hold so dear to my heart. Last week we were returning the gear from the TARC Spring Thaw to our storage area at Hale, and just being around the property got me buzzing with excitement and ideas. Still, I think my seven-year old son captured the spirit of the TARC 100 better than anyone I have ever heard when he told me, “Even if mom doesn’t want to, I’m going to stay here the whole time of the TARC 100 because this place is AWESOME!”
We look forward to bringing this crazy community together at our new home in Hale and can’t wait to celebrate everyone’s efforts on June 7th and 8th!