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Middlebury trail run returns this Sunday

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury’s “emerald necklace” will see some more visitors than usual this Sunday with the return of the annual TAM Trek. The Sept. 20 run around the entire multi-use trail enters its 12th year with new distances on new portions of the trail.
In past years, the run on the Trail Around Middlebury, popularly called the TAM, consisted of four different distances and started near Middlebury College. This year, the Trek starts at one of the trail’s northern sections, at Wright Park at the northern end of Seymour Street Extension.
“We felt like this was a great opportunity for people to explore a new area of the trail that they might not be too familiar with,” said Carl Robinson, executive director of the Middlebury Area Land Trust (MALT), which maintains the TAM and organizes the run.
At the center of the event is the 18-mile run around the entire TAM, which has been slightly extended from years past with the inclusion of some side trails. Starting at Wright Park, racers will run south down Seymour Street and through Middlebury (a little more than a mile and a half) before climbing the 800-foot-high Chipman Hill — a total rise in elevation of almost 500 feet to the highest point of the run — before descending down the east side of the hill. The race continues south through Means Woods, Battell Woods, across Route 7, and through the Jeffrey Murdock Nature Preserve behind the middle school before crossing the Middlebury College athletic fields and the college campus. The trail returns to Wright Park by way of the Jackson Trail and the Johnson Trail in Weybridge. 
“You get a bit of everything,” Robinson said. “Going up Chipman Hill you get some nice forests and views to open views of farmland as you go through the college. There is some nice creek-side trail as you go further north.”
The 18-mile run gains and loses 1,000 feet of elevation. All of the runners will be timed.  
The 6-mile course is entirely on single-track trail through Wright Park with around 400 feet of elevation gain and several slightly technical sections while the 2-mile “fun run” is an out-and-back trail in Wright Park to the Belden Falls Dam and back.
The event concludes with refreshments, live music and food. The winners in the 6-mile and 18-mile races will receive medals made by Middlebury’s own Danforth Pewter.
Trail coordinator John Derick has been working with the help of summer intern Allie Aiello to maintain the trail and make sure it’s well marked and clear, however Robinson said runners should expect a challenge.
“It is a trail run, it’s not like a bike path or a trail you’d find up in Burlington,” he said. “It’s a hiking and running trail so there are some obstacles. It’s rocky and rooty, but pretty dry.”
The 18-mile race starts at 8 a.m.; the 6-mile race and 2-mile fun run start at 10 a.m.
The early registration race fee is $40 per person for the 18- and 6-mile races ($30 recommended donation for the fun run) or $120 for a group up to six; the fees go up to $45/individual and $140/group on Sept. 19. Go online to www.maltvt.org/tam-trek to register or to volunteer to help out at the race. For more information contact MALT at 388-1007 or info@maltvt.org.
As of late last week, 40 people had registered for the race, and Robinson hopes there will more than 100 people running this year. Proceeds from the race benefit MALT’s conservation work and trail maintenance on the TAM.
“The trail has become a part of our community and a symbol of the Middlebury area,” Robinson said. “We hope that people will come out and support MALT and the trail.” 
Trail maps and registration information for the run are available at www.maltvt.org.

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