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Tuesday, Dec 5, 2023

TAM Trek sees record sign-ups, altered course in its 20th year

 Elsa Mowers ’24.5 finishes the 19-mile race along with other participants.
Elsa Mowers ’24.5 finishes the 19-mile race along with other participants.

Middlebury students, Vermont locals and out-of-state runners all convened in Wright Park at the start — and finish — line of the 20th annual TAM Trek this past Sunday, Sept. 17. 

The event was organized by the Middlebury Area Land Trust (MALT), a volunteer group that helps with finances, educational, conservation and trail maintenance efforts, and it runs along the Trail Around Middlebury, or as you more likely know it, the TAM. 

The 20th anniversary of the TAM Trek witnessed a remarkable surge in registrations, setting a new record of participants, according to an email sent to registrants of the race. By the last day of registration, Sept. 15, the race had around 250 registrants, according to MALT Board Member Erik Remsen. 

The TAM Trek includes four different race options: the full 19 mile circumnavigation of the TAM, a 10k, 5k and two-mile family fun run. This was the first year that MALT offered a 5k option. 

This year’s 19-mile course featured two re-routes due to the flash flooding that Middlebury experienced over the summer. The first affected area came early on in the trail, where the course heads down Seymour Street and up Chipman Hill. As the trail winds up the hill, the TAM eventually intersects with a road that passes by the old Middlebury College ski jump. 

“That section of the road washed out and… there’s some pretty deep gullies where the trail used to be,” Remsen said. MALT is still working on repairs for this section of the trail. 

The second re-route of the course came later in the full race, at around the halfway point. After runners headed down the Class of ’97 Trail, south of Route 125, the TAM winds through fields. Due to the flooding in this area, the race instead crossed Ridgeline Parking Lot out to the Knoll, where it reunited with the TAM again. 

Remsen added that these re-routes did not significantly change the typical 19-mile distance of the race.

“I will say what that means is… there won’t be any course records set this year because of these kinds of changes that we’ve had to make,” he said. 

The TAM Trek followed the Trail Around Middlebury, which passes through fields, forests, and four different towns.

Leah Mowry ’24.5, who ran the full 19-mile race, noted that the community aspect of the race between college students and community members was lively and motivating. 

“It’s not very often that students interact with the community that much, so it was really fun to see that happening and they were just always cheering each other on,” she said. 

This was the first year that Mowry has run the race. “I had friends who were signing up and were really wanting to do it, so I was like ‘OK, this is the year I’m going to do it’,”  she said. While she ended up running apart from her friends, Mowry said she was always running with other participants close by, which contributed to the race’s uplifting atmosphere.

 “It… felt a bit like home in that I knew the whole trail and where I was and what was coming up which was really nice,” she said. 

“It was really cool to see all parts of the community come together surrounded by the love of the TAM,” said Julianna Haensly ’23.5, who ran the 10k race. A former member of the women’s swim and dive team at Middlebury, she has taken up running on the TAM as a hobby since she retired from swimming this past February. 

“[I’ve been running] here and there when I’m out of season so it’s become a pretty special place,” Haensly said

Haensly thought running the TAM Trek would be a great way to wrap up her college experience before graduating in February. 

“It was definitely an intense trail run, but being from Boulder, I loved it,” she said. 

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Haensly ran with friends who also competed in the 10k, and mentioned how the energy of cheering each other on and encouragement from other runners made for a fun environment. 

“There was great energy before and then after… they had food and all sorts of stuff so people hung out and were just enjoying the day,” she added.

The TAM Trek serves primarily as a fundraising effort for MALT, and is the largest fundraiser the organization hosts each year. MALT’s goal this year was to raise $30,000 through registration and donations to the TAM Trek for maintenance and upgrading the trail, Remsen said. 

The annual cost to maintain the TAM is around $18,000, according to the MALT website. This year, meeting the fundraising goal  was especially important in order to repair sections of the trail damaged by the summer flooding. 

This flooding caused the course to be muddier than usual. “It was definitely a challenge to navigate that and watch my footing,” Haensly said. However, she expressed the sentiment of many runners when it comes to trail running: 

“It’s kind of fun to run and get a little muddy sometimes.” 

Emily Hogan

Emily Hogan '24 (she/her) is a Local Editor.   

She is studying Environmental Policy with a minor in Math. In addition to writing and editing for the Campus, she also dances with the On Tap dance troupe and serves on the Environmental Council. She has previously worked with the Sustainability Solutions Lab at Middlebury.