Almost 300 finish Ghost Train Rail Trail Race that spans Brookline and Milford

BROOKLINE – Ranging in age from 14 to 68, a group of elite runners came from all around the country and from Canada to run along the scenic trails of the railroad route that used to run between Brookline and Milford.

The Ghost Train Rail Trail Race consists of two races, an ultra marathon (more than 30 miles) and a 15-mile race. There are ghosts, illuminated pumpkins and motion-activated decorations along the way to keep overnight runners on their toes.

The ultra marathon race kicked off at Camp Tevya on Lake Potanipo in Brookline at 9 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 26, with 194 runners finishing anywhere from 30 to 100 miles. On Sunday morning, with many distance runners still on the course, the 15-mile race from the Milford Department of Public Works to Camp Tevya and back was completed by 101 runners.

The winner of the ultra was Eric Wyler, 25, of Brighton, Mass., who completed the 100 miles in 17 hours, six minutes, which amounts to a steady pace of 5.8 miles per hour, or running a mile in less than 10.5 minutes throughout. The first female to cross the line, Alyson Venti, 31, of Miami, Fla., also finished second overall with her time of 18 hours, 59 minutes. Forty-four runners completed the 100 mile distance through the day and overnight, with times ranging from 17:06 to 29:50.

Other entrants in the ultra included Martin Rouillard, who stopped after running 90 miles in 17:39. A total of 14 people ran 75 miles, 38 ran 60 miles, 37 ran 45 miles and 49 ran the minimum ultra distance of 30 miles. There were more than 20 runners older than 60 in the race.

Winners of Sunday’s 15-mile race were Brian Lavoie, 41, of Hopkinton, with a time of 1:34:47, followed by Alec Davis, 22, of Amherst, with his time of 1:41:09. The first female finisher was Rae Crowell, 42, of Milford, who ran the course in 1:51:50.

Brookline runners were Michael Bailey and Jennifer Tracey, who both ran 45 miles in the ultra race, and Jordan Bailey (member of the Brookline Conservation Commission), Frik Strecker and Anthony, Lisa and Alyssa Lombardi, who ran the 15-mile course on Sunday. Hollis residents Melanie Haber completed 60 miles, and Ryan Dobens ran the 15-mile race.

According to race director Steve Latour, the start of the race was delayed due to the late arrival of some registration paperwork and longer-than-anticipated lines at the portable toilets.

“Everybody was really good about it,” he said. “Trail runners are a pretty relaxed group.”

About halfway through their first 7.5 mile leg, the runners reached the section of the trail that was reconstructed by the Brookline Conservation Commission. The project utilized federal funds from the Recreational Trails program, as well as funds from last year’s race to rehabilitate 1,200 feet of the trail that had become overgrown with vegetation and to construct a bridge over a railroad trestle. The funds are generated through the gasoline tax, with a percentage of sales for non-motorized vehicles designated for RTP.

State Sen. Peggy Gilmour, of Hollis, read a statement by Gov. Maggie Hassan, who was unable to attend the event. Hassan praised Brookline and Milford Conservation commission members for their “dedication to responsible environmental stewardship in their towns.”

Various other officials and committee members, including state representatives Jack Flanagan and Melanie Levesque, Brookline Town Administrator Tad Putney and Selectman Brendan Denehy, joined with supporters gathered at the site to see the improvements and to cheer the runners as they went by.

“We do a lot of maintenance and construction of the trail system, including the construction of this bridge,” said Doug Sattler, president of the Hollis Nor’easters Snowmobile Club, who helped build the bridge. “Along with the neighboring snowmobile clubs, we take a great deal of pride in the local trail system. A lot of effort went into the reconstruction and rehabilitation of this bridge and we’re pleased with the results. We’re glad to see some of the gasoline tax dollars come back to the community.”

As the ultra runners approached the new bridge, they were greeted with cheers and applause, and veterans of previous Ghost Train races were excited about the improvements.

“I stubbed my toe here last year,” said one runner. “This looks great. Thanks.”

“This trail is awesome,” another said.

Full race results for the 15-mile race and the ultra marathon can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/ghosttrainrailtrailrace. For additional photos of the race, visit their open Facebook page, Ghost Train Rail Trail Race.