Holdenwood Trail Run Holds 12th Event Sunday to Aid Ayer Shirley Students
SHIRLEY -- The annual Holdenwood Trail Run has enjoyed 11 successful years and is gearing up to make it an even dozen thanks to the continued efforts of organizers and other helping hands, including the Holden family, which donates use of its farm for the event each year and pitches in to help with trail grooming and other preparations.
Not to mention the scenic beauty of a 5-mile trail that loops through woods and fields, laced with stone walls and carpeted with pine needles.
Set for Sept. 30 this year, the popular community event, which regularly draws runners from all over New England and occasionally beyond, had more than 400 registered participants and plenty of room for more last week.
Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Ayer Shirley Education Foundation, which has awarded $250,000 in educational enrichment grants since the two-town regional school district launched in 2011.
Things are humming along for this year’s Holdenwood Run, said Jay Duffner, who is co-directing the event with fellow town resident and School Committee Chairman Jonathan Deforge this year.
Duffner said he plans to run the course with his son, Remy. Ayer Shirley Regional School District Athletic Director Steve Kendall said plenty of other students are participating as well, including the entire cross country and track teams from the school.
Kendall, who is new to the job this year and a runner himself, plans to join them.
It’s a golden opportunity for the kids on the team, Kendall said. The roster includes 33 boys and girls in grades seven through 12, he said, with at least six middle-school students in the group.
Middle-school kids participate in all school sports except football (which is high school only) and girls soccer, Kendall said, with the latter booked at 72. This year, 41 girls tried out for middle school soccer. “They may join us,” he said. The boys’ soccer team consists of students in grades eight through 12.
A total of 265 ASRSD students have signed up for school sports this year Kendall said, more than 217 at the high school alone. That’s about half the high school population, he said.
Tracing his avid interest in student athletics back to a former gig as a sports-writer for the Sentinel & Enterprise, Kendall said the race is a fun-for-all sports event that draws the community together also encourages student athletes and benefits the school district’s educational goals.
As the many “testimonials” from former and future participants posted on the Holdenwood website attest, the event is a triple win for the community, the schools and with a 2K run/walk as well as a 10K run, an opportunity for people of all ages and athletic ability levels to enjoy a fun family day, which wraps with an optional after party at the Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley.
Visitors whose comments appeared on the website said they enjoyed the beautiful scenery and well-groomed trails. First-timers praised Shirley’s historic center, ample parking and friendly pre-event vibes, including helpful volunteer organizers ready with directions. Returning runners said they’d added the event to their itinerary.
In one very detailed write-up, someone who had to drop out of the run a couple years back noted peripheral perks such as the area’s “cool” ambiance and quaint dining options such as the Airport Diner.
For more information or to register for the Sept. 30 event, visit email@example.com .