News

Rail trail race will benefit conservation commissions

Friday, October 7, 2011

By HATTIE BERNSTEIN

Staff Writer

The annual Ghost Train Rail Trail Race, a benefit for the Brookline and Milford conservation commissions, is so low-key that even the race director participates.

“There are no frills,” said race director Steve Latour, an ultra runner, who has been organizing the event since it started three years ago.

The event begins on Oct. 22 at Lake Potanipo and finishes in the same location the following day.

Ultra runners who cover between 31 and 100 miles of trails, start on the first day, running through the night and continuing the next day when the 15-mile racers hit the trail.

The course follows the railroad tracks used in the late 19th and early 20th century to ship granite from Milford and ice from Lake Potanipo to Massachusetts.

During World War II, the rails were removed for scrap metal, but many of the railroad ties remain in the ground.

As races go, this one is low-key and low-tech, Letour said.

Instead of using a paid service and timing chips, volunteers with watches, paper, and pencils will be recording times.

Likewise, the three aid stations set up along the 15-mile course will provide the basics – water and Gatorade – for the 15-mile racers and food for the long-distance runners.

Last year, 70 runners participated, raising $1,400, Letour said.

This year, the organizer is hoping for more runners, and more money.

He’s also hoping that runners watch the trail marks to keep from straying off the route.

“It’s pretty much a straight shot with one turn in Brookline on a section of Route 13,” he said, describing a course that starts at Lake Potanipo, runs north parallel to State Route 13 into Milford for 7.5 miles and, once runners reach the Milford Department of Public works, returns to the start, another 7.5 miles. Registration, open on race day, is $20 for the 15-mile race and $30 for the ultra race, to cover the additional expense of providing high-energy snacks through the night. It doesn’t matter what the weather is that day, either.

“Trail runners will be out there,” Latour said. “A bad day on the trail is better than any good day on the road.”

Runners aren’t likely to encounter ghosts or goblins on the Ghost Train Rail Trail, or even reasonable facsimiles, the race director said.

But he promised plenty of treats, including breathtaking views, the musty aroma of the fall woods, and no cars or air pollution.

“You’re connecting with nature. You see critters. You’re running in a beautiful place,” Latour said.

The race is inviting in another way: Latour made the cutoff a 16-minute mile to encourage newcomers and slower runners.

“With the time cutoff, people say, ‘I can walk the last bit if I have to,’” he said.

For more information about the Ghost Train Rail Trail Race go the race Web site at http://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=14172.

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