Harrison recorded a time of 1 hour, 41 minutes and 52 seconds in the 13.1-mile run, besting Christian Belair of Summerstown, Ont. (1:45:21) and Ken Burd of Boylestown (1:45:33).
“We ran about the first three miles as a group, four of us, then we got to singletrack and it got a little hilly and couple people stretched out,” Burd said. “I was in second until about mile 8, until we hit some logging roads and then I lost second place.”
Judy Rush of Saranac Lake took the top spot for the women, finishing in 2:17:55. She was also crowned the series champ for women after the race.
Rush described the race at the VIC as a run rather than a race, suggesting that the biggest “competitor” is the course.
“The singletrack is really hard, so you just have to run your own race. You know, run and have a good time,” Rush said. “You slip all over the place. It’s narrow, rocks, roots, especially today because everything is so wet.”
Rush emphasized that the runners share a strong camaraderie and encourage each other along the way.
The race was the final one of the Paul Smith’s VIC First Sunday Trail Run Series that started earlier in the summer. It was also the longest and most difficult race. The races grew in distance each competition, starting with the first race at 5 kilometers, followed by a 10k, 15k and finally the 21k.
Race director Sarah Keyes said she was happy with the way the series went in its first year.
“I’m really surprised with the number of great athletes that have come out,” Keyes said. “A lot of people have competed in every race.”
Each race also has a 5k race for those not wanting to do the longer distances. Michelle Berrus of Chazy took first in that race with a 34:32 on Sunday. She was followed by Royal McDonnell of Paul Smiths, who finished in 36:27.
For these particular races, the conditions were a bit cool but overall not too bad except for a rain shower that lasted just a few minutes. Most runners didn’t seem to mind the cool weather until after crossing the finish line.
After the race, there were festivities, with a crowd gathering inside the VIC for food and beverages. The runners touted the opportunity to have a trail running series in Paul Smiths.
“It’s great for the area,” Harrison said. “Trail running is really picking up in the country and a lot of competitive races happen out west. It’s nice to see some on the east coast, especially in the Adirondacks.”
Burke resident Peter Gordon has been at every race in the series and was honored as the race series champion. He finished first in the 5k, second in the 10k, fourth in the 15k and fourth in the half-marathon with a time of 1:58:21.
He said the biggest difference between this race and the early ones was the amount of singletrack, which presented a challenge for him because he hasn’t done a lot of it. He said those runners with more trail running experience really stood out in this final event. He hopes next year the competitions will draw even more people.
“It’s just absolutely phenomenal,” Gordon said. “It’s a tough course. You’re climbing up part of Jenkins Mountain. You’re on singletrack for a while. It’s not easy, which is good. It’s rugged. You just want to survive without getting yourself hurt. It’s a lot of fun.”
Mike Lynch/Lake Placid News
Matt Harrison of Lake Placid crosses the finish line as the first runner to complete the trail half-marathon Oct. 2 at the Paul?Smith’s College VIC.