, Newburyport, MA

May 17, 2013

Don't just sit there

Plenty of races to go around this weekend

On Running
Dan Guttenplan

---- — It’s shaping up to be the busiest weekend of the year for road racers, trail runners, half marathoners. However, obstacle-course competitors are out of luck this weekend.

Three races will start in the Greater Newburyport area this weekend over a span of 23 hours. The races include the 13th annual Trav’s Trail Run at Maudslay State Park, the inaugural Newburyport River Run Half Marathon and Relay and the 24th annual Evelyn’s Run for the Roses in Salisbury.

Originally, the fourth annual Hoppin’ Mad Mud Run was also supposed to take place Sunday at Woodsom Farm, although that was recently canceled due to a lack of community support, according to the Heat Event Management webpage.

“Heat Event Management LLC would like to thank all who have supported the last three years of the Hoppin’ Mad Mud Run and the many devoted followers of this event,” the website reads. “Unfortunately, it has become clear in the last week that we do not have the 100 percent support that all events like this need. We do not put on races that are not top-quality events, we feel it is in our best interest to cancel the Hoppin’ Mad Mud Run ... We hope that at some point in the future we can bring back an event that will showcase Woodsom Farm and its beautiful course.”

Trav’s Trail Run, which will start at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, historically draws some of the top local cross-country talent on the North Shore. Last year’s champion in the men’s race was UMass Lowell graduate Nate Jenkins, 32, who placed third at the 2008 Olympic Trials in the marathon. This year, the women’s race figures to be a closely contested race among three Newburyport women.

Newburyport High alumna Betsy Suda could be the favorite after spending the last three years training with Florida Track Club out of the University of Florida. Last year, she placed second in the race behind Brett Ely. The path for Suda is now clear as Ely has moved to Oregon to pursue a doctorate degree.

Suda’s toughest competition is expected to come from one of two runners — Newburyport resident Maddy Hribar or Newburyport High alumna and Bates College senior Lindsay Cullen. Hribar is having a great spring on the running circuit. She was the top women’s finisher in the area at the Boston Marathon, finishing in 3:01.17. She also won the Newburyport PTO Spring Fever 5K two weeks ago in 18:16. The pace was slightly faster than the one Suda ran last year in the Trav’s Trail Run.

Cullen won the Newburyport Flag Day 5K last summer after her junior year at Bates College. She ranks on the team’s all-time top 10 list in several events, such as the 5K and 3K. She finished five seconds behind Suda in last year’s race.

For those who plan to compete in Trav’s Trail Race, a last-minute pre-entry and number pickup is available at Greater Boston Running Company tomorrow from noon to 4 p.m.

Although no one will likely attempt the feat, it is conceivable that a die-hard runner could compete in Trav’s Trail Run and the Newburyport River Run Half Marathon, which starts Sunday at noon. Fuel Training Studio will host the event, with a portion of the proceeds going to One Fund Boston. The race will look to capitalize on the growing popularity of distance running in the area. The annual Green Strides Marathon in October has quickly become one of the most popular races of the year.

On Saturday at 11:30 a.m., the Winner’s Circle Running Club will host Evelyn’s Run for the Roses. A Men’s Run for Women will start three minutes after the gun sounds for the women’s race. Evelyn’s Run for the Roses features the popular mother/daughter and sister/sister divisions. Proceeds will benefit A Safe Place, Inc.

The cancellation of the fourth annual Hoppin’ Mad Mud Run will deprive locals an opportunity to see world-class competitor Junyong Pak of Beverly. Pak won last year’s 10K Mud Run by almost five minutes before going on to win the title of World’s Toughest Mudder by winning the men’s national championship Nov. 18 in Englishtown, N.J. In that race, Pak completed a 10-mile obstacle-course nine times in 25 1/2 hours. Put another way, the 5-foot-8, 140-pound man trudged 90 miles in just over a day’s time.