Over the past few years, there has been a rapidly growing increase in trail running, first with ultras and marathons but now with shorter races that appeal to the masses.
And our area is blessed with all kinds of great trails starting with Bluff Point Coastal Reserve in Groton, which already this spring has hosted the Spartyka Wounded Warrior 5K and the Twilight Trail Run. On Sunday at 7:30 a.m., it will be the site of a 3.5 mile-race sponsored by the Hartford Marathon Foundation.
Until now, if you wanted to get into trail running you had to go on line, read a magazine or seek out an experienced trail runner to find out how to get started.
But now the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic is sponsoring a five-part trail running series for beginners starting on July 3 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Other sessions will be held July 10, 17, 24 and 31.
Plans are to explore the nature centers expansive network of trails and possibly branch out to other locations.
Nature Center preschool director and trail runner Davnet Schaffer said the class is part of the centers initiative to promote green exercise that gets people outside and is easy to do.
She said that trail running may be intimidating to some people at first so she will talk about the need for trail running shoes (regular running shoes are fine), building endurance, hydration and nutrition, checking for ticks and poison ivy and techniques specific for running trails without falling down.
"People are used to running on roads and looking straight ahead and not looking where they are going. With trail running you have to pay attention a little more," she said.
Schaffer said trail runners have to pick lines and figure out how to avoid obstacles, all things that are not that intuitive to people if they have not run trails before.
She said there's the dilemma of running though or around water and decided whether to step on or jump over logs that could be slick.
Schaffer said she wants to get people off road.
"It's so refreshing and scenic. You can't beat this on the road," she said.
The cost is just $30 for nature center members and $40 for non members. For more information and to register call 536-1216.
Two of our area's most important runners, Amby Burfoot and Julia Chase Brand, along with Bill Rodgers and 2012 Olympian Donn Cabral of Glastonbury will be the stars of the inaugural race at Wesleyan University in Middletown on Sunday, June 30. The 4.4-mile race is being sponsored by the Hartford Marathon Foundation.
Niantic Bay Triathlon change
Because of damage from Hurricane Sandy, Hartford Marathon Foundation has had to alter the run course for the Aug. 4 event that begins at McCook Beach Park.
HMF also created the "Help Restore Crescent Beach" fundraiser to aid the Crescent Beach Association's bluff repair project. So far $2,500 has been raised from contributions from the running community. HMF plans another fundraiser during the triathlon.
More information about the race and the course change is at www.hartfordmarathon.com.
On the schedule
The annual Norwich Rec Runs on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. at Mohegan Park Center will begin July 11 and go through Aug. 22.
This is a family event with a group stretch and warmup at 6:15 p.m. followed by a kids half-mile run at 6:30 and a one-mile race at 6:45. The three-miler begins at 7 and any kids under 12 must be accompanied by a parent.
For more information call (860) 823-3791. The runs are sponsored by the Norwich Recreation Department in cooperation with the Mohegan Striders.
Joe Wojtas is The Day's running columnist.