On Sunday, Sept. 17, the Trails for a Cure Trail Race will be held at Cockaponsett State Forest. At 9 a.m. trail runners can participate in either a four-mile or eight-mile run through the state forest over roots and puddles with an optional water crossing at the end of the eight-mile course.
“My husband [Charlie Iselin] has run it for longer than I have, but I love it because you’re in the woods, running through trails, and just worrying about your next step,” said Becky Iselin, who is helping coordinate the race. “Trail running is a different sport. It’s a great area and it’s for a great cause.”
Proceeds from the Trails for a Cure Trail Race benefit pancreatic cancer research in memory of Steve Hancock. In 2004, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but it didn’t slow the lifelong runner down as he competed in two more Manchester Road Races with his group “The Plaiders” (members wear plaid jackets) and serenaded other runners and spectators.
Hancock also resurrected the trail race, which was held throughout the 1980s and 1990s, in 2005 to benefit pancreatic cancer. He left the hospital in 2006 in order to direct the race that year before passing away on Aug. 15 at age 58.
His family—his late wife Brenda as well as his children Stephen and Michelle—and friends have continued the race in his honor ever since.
“It’s just hard not having him,” said Dean Festa, a member of the Plaiders, in a press release. “I don’t think it’s going to stop. It’s a tribute to Steve. If we don’t do it, the cancer won.”
Planning the race has become harder for Hancock family members as they don’t live locally and the Iselins have stepped up to help.
“There were having a hard time mapping the course and we run there all the time,” said Iselin. “They asked us to help out with that and try to promote the race.”
Throughout the summer on Tuesday evenings, the Iselins have been meeting with young runners from town preparing for the race. The group, which is made up of 1st- to 8th-graders, began with a two-mile trail race and worked their way up to running the four-mile course.
“It’s a great way to expose kids to other sports,” said Iselin, whose three children all participated. “There are a lot of runners in town who do the Chester Four on the Fourth and this is another way to share another event that happens in Chester and get all of those kids involved.”
The first 50 runners registered receive a t-shirt. Day-of registration begins at 8 a.m. and costs $25 for the eight-mile course and $15 for the four-mile race. Awards and refreshments, including a pizza truck, follow the race.
The race is now part of the Connecticut Blue Blazed Trail Running Series, which has 10 races in the series. There are three races remaining in the series, including the Trails to a Cure Trail Race.
Iselin is looking forward to the event. Last year’s race drew 37 runners and she is hoping to break the 50-runner mark this year.
“It’s a great race and being in the trails is just the best and I want people to experience it,” said Iselin. “It’s a great area and it’s for a great cause raising funds for pancreatic cancer research.”
Day-of registration begins at 8 a.m. For information, like Trails to a Cure on Facebook or call 203-980-0537.