SOUTHINGTON – A chilly rain did not hinder runners from completing a long distance race on the trails of Camp Sloper Sunday.
The CT Trailmixers’ annual Fall Fling began early in the morning and persisted for 400 minutes, wrapping up mid-afternoon beneath dark, wet skies.
Guilford resident Ian Connell finished 20 loops – a total of 40 miles – in that time, winning the top spot among males. The 23-year-old was all smiles as he caught his breath after crossing the finish line.
“It was good; I like the mud,” Connell said, adding, “I like it better than a sunny day. It’s more fun.”
He was one of 182 people who took to the trails for the ‘400’ as this type of long-distance race is called.
“That’s pretty impressive given the weather conditions,” Race Director Michael Lo Presti said of the turnout. “It’s been an awesome day.”
It was the organization’s fourth year hosting the event, whose counterpart is an aptly-named Spring Fling race that takes place on the same grounds and attracts many of the same athletes.
“We’re back here May 3 for the Spring Fling,” Lo Presti said. “It’s 10 hours of running.”
Participants of either race can complete as many laps as they choose. The format is very flexible and supportive, with volunteers providing snacks and drinks along the route and bathrooms readily available.
“The CT Trailmixers are like a huge trail-running family,” said Johanna Ylanen, the top female finisher. “Trail runners come in all shapes, sizes and ages and everyone is welcome here. I really like that.”
The Tolland resident ran 18 laps – 36 miles – in 400 minutes.
“It was awesome,” she said. “Running in the rain is a challenge but it makes it more memorable.”
Proceeds from the race will benefit the Southington YMCA, the Connecticut Forest & Parks Association and the Trailmixers’ Shoe Scholarship Program, which provides children with free shoes to run cross-country or track.
Volunteer Sam Smith, of Harwinton, handed out candy, chips, granola and other snack foods to help refuel runners.
“We love running with the Mixers,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of different races this year. I wasn’t prepared to run this one, but I wanted to help the people who were running and give back, because they’ve supported me.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or email@example.com.