News Feature

State of Maine
Originally published in Castine Patriot, December 6, 2018 and Island Ad-Vantages, December 6, 2018 and The Weekly Packet, December 6, 2018
Downeast runners go ‘back to the woods’

A new partnership is promoting an alternative way to experience the great outdoors. Local runners can’t get enough.

Between the first race in August and the final race on November 11, over 350 participants ran in the inaugural Downeast Conservation Trail Race Series hosted by six conservation groups. According to a news release, 11 runners completed at least five of the six races in the series, qualifying for the series prizes by running a total of over 35 miles of trail overall.

For some runners, running on trails in the woods, wetlands, and mountains of Downeast Maine presented a challenge. Before the series, Danielle Reardon of Hancock had never run on a trail before. After running all six races, she’s sold: “I don’t think I’ll go back to pavement. I had no idea how hard it was, but I loved the challenge. Plus, it was scenic, not boring,” Reardon said in the release.

Despite the challenge, the trail races attracted all ages and experience levels. Mother Charlotte Clews of Blue Hill ran three races with her 10-year-old daughter, saying the series was a “great family event.”

Besides promoting outdoor exercise and family fun, the trail race series had another benefit: encouraging locals to discover trails and conserved areas in their backyard. The trail races were spread across Downeast Maine, located at community supported nature and wildlife preserves in Orland, Surry, Sullivan, Machias, Baring, and Grand Lake Stream.

For Jonathan Aretakis of Pembroke, the unique trail races presented “an incredibly beautiful and varied terrain—lovingly cared for by so many stewards and committed users.” Jonathan was the first male winner of the series, stating “it is nice to be a part of this ‘back to the woods’ movement in running.”

Between the six conservation groups, over 100 volunteers helped to plan the races, clear the trails of debris, mark the courses, register runners, and clean up. The groups are seeking more volunteers to help with what is expected to be an even larger turnout next season, according to the release. Anyone can become involved by contacting their local hosting organization. Race dates for the Downeast Conservation Trail Race Series’ second season will be released in early 2019. To learn more about the races in this series visit For more information, contact Austin Schuver, Community Engagement Coordinator, Frenchman Bay Conservancy: 422-2328 or; Chrissy Allen, Development and Outreach Director, Blue Hill Heritage Trust: 374-5118 or, or John Hough, Friends of Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge: />