Sarah Gapp of Clinton, N. Y., runs on the improved trail system during a cross country invitational meet.
The sound of a wood chipper -which lasted for weeks - finally died away in late July, only to be replaced by the sound of heavy machinery relocating large boulders. In late August, construction noises were replaced with the soft thump of running shoes meeting earth: Phase 1 of the Saint Joseph's College cross country trail improvements was complete.
The 3-mile running trail, with two series of loops, winds along the outer perimeter of the Standish campus. Coach Tom Dann, in his 11th year of coaching cross country at Saint Joseph's College, is extremely pleased with the trail system. "We really needed to do this work to create a more secure running environment for our students," he says. "Now we can actually host meets with confidence that we have a really nice cross country course."
According to Donald Tanguay, coordinator for the trail improvement project, no stone was left unturned - literally. "All the rocks and roots were removed from the entire trail. Plus we added new trails and built seven bridges," he says. The width of the trail doubled from about 4 feet to 8 feet. The sharper corners were smoothed out, and trail markers posted.
The trees, roots and stumps removed were converted into wood chips. Combined with gravel and other fill, a team of Facilities Management employees used the chips to correct low areas that collected water and mud.
Sarah Willis of Buckland, Mass., one of the women's cross country team captains, ran on the trails every day during the fall. "It's much better ... and there's room to pass people, so you don't get stuck behind other runners," she says.
In addition to running, the trails are great for walking, cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Next time you're in the area, check them out.
Note: A trail dedication in the spring will honor Bill and Betty Adams for their years of support.
by Brent Wooten