TAM Trek Race Well Attended by Student Body


Runners prepare to start TAM Trek race at Wright Park. Credit Aaron de Toledo

By Alessandria Schumacher

Before much of the campus was up and about Sunday morning, students had secured winning places in both the men’s and women’s divisions of the 18-mile TAM Trek race.  The race began in Wright Park at 8 a.m. on a 18-mile loop on the Trail Around Middlebury (TAM).

In first place overall and in the men’s division was Jacob Volz ’18 (2:22:24).  In the women’s division, Maddie Leopold ’17 (2:33:25) and Tabitha Mueller ’18 (2:45:35) came in first and second, respectively.

“This was awesome,” Mueller said, her face red and sweaty.  It was a cool, overcast morning though, making it a good temperature for running.

When asked how she felt about completing the race, Mueller said, “There was a small part of myself that kept telling me that I couldn’t do this. It is awesome though to know that I can complete something like this. It’s not a marathon, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.”

“I’ve been training for this all summer, I don’t know what I’ll do now,” Mueller continued.  She explained that though she has been training, the longest she had ever run before the TAM Trek is 13 miles.  Her next running goal is to do the Middlebury Maple Run this spring.

Waiting at the finish line under several tents were trays of desserts, pizzas, chocolate milk, bananas, and of course, lots of water, a familiar sight to anyone who has run cross-country.

“It reminded me of running cross-country in high school… Just a lot longer,” Mueller said.

Ben Bruno ’06, a member of the Board of Trustees for the Middlebury Area Land Trust (MALT), explained that there were four other “aid stations” set up along the trail with water and nourishment if the runners wanted.

At the end, there were prizes for the top finishers, which were donated by the sponsors of the TAM Trek.  Among the prize items on the table were medals for the winner donated by Danforth Pewter.

This was the 12th year of this annual race.  One option for the race is to run the entire TAM, including the Gorge Loop, which is an 18 mile run.  According to the trail descriptions, the loop “gains and loses over 1000 feet in elevation.”  Carl Robinson, executive director of MALT, clarified that the TAM itself is, in fact, only 16 miles, but with the Gorge Loop, it is 18.  For those runners who are not as crazy – but still quite ambitious – there was the option to do a 6 mile race.  The 6 mile option was a loop, beginning and ending in Wright Park, and taking the Gorge Loop, like the 18 mile option.  Both the 18 and six mile races were timed.

According to Bruno, this was the first year they timed the races in an effort to bring a bit of competition in the event and to attract people looking for opportunities to run long races.

Finally, for those who were looking to get outside and get some exercise in a less competitive way, there was the two mile Fun Run or Hike.  With this range of options, the TAM Trek appealed to a wider audience.

“[The TAM Trek] is a chance to celebrate the TAM with the people who use it all the time, and don’t use it as much,” Bruno said.  “Not only does the TAM Trek get people outside and using the trail, it also helps keep it maintained.”

According to the MALT website, the proceeds from the AM Trek will go towards maintenance of the TAM.

The 16 mile TAM is what most people know MALT for, but MALT does more than the one trail, known as “Middlebury’s Emerald Necklace,” according to its website.

MALT began as the Middlebury Land Trust in 1987.  Before that time, the town of Middlebury had a tax abatement program for local farmland, but in 1987, the state began its own farmland tax abatement program.

However, Middlebury residents voted to keep paying, but had the money go towards a conservation fund – Middlebury Land Trust.  In 1996, they expanded to include land in surrounding towns, hence the switch to the name Middlebury Area Land Trust.  MALT now has over 20 miles of trail in Middlebury and surrounding towns, two bridges over Otter Creek, and a trail headed off toward Snake Mountain.

The land that makes up the TAM and other MALT trails has come from a variety of owners.  MALT itself owns four properties.  Some land is farmland or other private land where the landowners have given permission for the public trail to pass through.  Another section of the TAM – perhaps the section most students are familiar with – is owned by the College.   The Otter Creek Gorge preserve, which is now conservation land, was once a land trust held by Willard T. Jackson, Linda O. Johnson and Steven Rockefeller.

Along with providing miles of public access trails, MALT also offers guided hikes along the trails and summer camps for kids.

The next time you’re looking for motivation to go running, maybe it can be the prospect of running in the 18 mile TAM Trek next September – or at least the 2 mile fun run.