They came, they shivered a little, then they ran and kept on running…

By Nina Geatrakas

April 10th 2016 dawned crisp and clear, and a crew of remarkable volunteers headed to the Crane Wildlife Management Area at 3:45 a.m. to begin set up for the 3rd annual Cape Cod Trail Race. There were timing system checks, tents to setup, medical supplies to unload, and a nourishing hot breakfast to be cooked, all before the runners started to arrive at 6:30 a.m.   

For the third year in a row, the skies were clear and sunny, with a serious chill in the air. That, of course, did not concern 305 dedicated trail runners who came to run in the Falmouth Track Club’s Cape Cod Trail Race. The runners faced 10-K, half-marathon, full marathon, and 50-K distances on a looped trail through Crane WMA, where the terrain varies from wide-open field to single-track rocky woodland hills. Along the way they were rewarded with views of Buzzards Bay from the highest elevation on the trail. A very enthusiastic cheering section greeted them at the finish, and for the longer distance runners, those same volunteers and spectators helped runners re-fuel and re-energize for the coming loop.

For those of us who spend months preparing for the race and work hard to make race day a success, one of the greatest rewards is watching the runners giving it their best through many challenges. However, our number one goal is to see our hard work and the efforts of the runners translated into charitable donations. Each year, the committee has selected charities from the community to receive all of the proceeds from the race. This year the charities were Habitat for Humanity Cape Cod, Glenna Kohl Fund for Hope, Independence House, Heroes in Transition, Jack’s PACT, Falmouth Water Stewards, Friends of Falmouth Bikeways, and Falmouth Aquatics. Together, everyone’s hard work paid off and this year we raised nearly $16,000 for those charities.

Many of the runners are local Cape Codders, but we also welcomed athletes from as far away as the UK! We had first-time trail runners, seasoned veterans of the trails and ultra-running, and everyone in-between. One of our first-time runners, Mimi, reached out to us to say, “I loved my first CCTR! Thank you Carl and the rest of the crew who made this race memorable & welcoming. Will be back next year!!”

Running can be a family event, as we saw in the afternoon during the Diaper Dash and the Kids Fun Run. Sixty-nine young athletes, many children of the morning’s trail runners, ran distances from a few yards (for the tiny tots) up to 3.1 miles. What a fantastic introduction to trail running for these kiddos!

For those who have attended a Wednesday evening track workout, or any FTC meeting, one thing you know for sure is that Carl Gustafson shares the warmth of his heart in part by feeding people. The Dinner of Champions took place on Saturday evening before the Trail Race. About 170 people came to eat a delicious pasta dinner while mingling with friends old and new. There were vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free items on the menu, all of which were prepared by a kitchen staff headed by a professional chef. During dinner, renowned runner Geoff Smith shared inspirational stories from his running career as a Boston Marathon winner in 1984 & 1985, and representing Great Britain in the Olympic Games in 1980 & 1984. Runners and their families left well fed and motivated for the following day’s challenges.

The Cape Cod Trail Race would not be possible without the support of volunteers who work to cover every base, from planning the course to handing out race medals and awards, and everything in between. The local Cape Cod community has shown the FTC and the CCTR incredible generosity of time, goods, and cash donations. We are truly thankful to be part of this community of people who strive to “Run Forward, Give Back”. On to 2017!!

Nina Geatrakas is a physician living on Cape Cod as a transplant from Upstate New York by way of Manhattan and California. She is happy to be settled down on the Cape with her husband Mohammad and their two dogs, Vanilla Bean and Ivy. Ivy the Weimaraner is in training as Nina’s newest four-legged running partner.