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Jade Belzberg April 14, 2014 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Featured Club: Trail Animals

Boston's original trail-running club keeps growing, in both size and spirit

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Trail Animals Running Club mascot, the Yeti, surprises runners at a race. Photo by Lindsey Topham.

“Leave no animal behind,” is the motto of Boston’s original and largest trail-running club, the aptly named Trail Animals Running Club (TARC).

And their mascot? A Yeti that often appears in TARC-hosted races.

Says long-time member and current head, Bob Crowley, “The Yeti is a neutral, fun-loving creature that represents all animals. The honor of becoming the Yeti is passed along by various members who want to act as a prankster during our races, looking for runners to surprise and cheer on.”

Even the race courses were once marked by the Yeti–first covering his feet in flour, then walking the course and leaving large Yeti paw prints leading the way down the trail.

Of the club's 3,000 members, 70 percent hail from New England, 25 percent from other states and 5 percent international. While the club was founded in 1995–“but,” says Crowley, “no one wants to claim the title of founder”–it wasn’t until 2006 that the running club began to really grow in size.

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Runners line up at the TARC Fall Classic, ready to run a 10K, half-marathon, marathon or 50K. Photo by Lindsey Topham.

“The club went to moth balls during for about 10 years because the leadership members, myself included, shifted priorities away from running and toward family and careers,” explains Crowley.

Then in the mid-2000s, three ultrarunners–Bob Crowley, Chris Haley and Chris Shanley–decided to revive the club. Since their kids had grown older, they’d resumed ultrarunning and were looking for company on the long training runs in preparation for the Western States 100 Endurance Run in the Sierra Mountains of Northern California.

“My son and I built a hacked-up website [for the club] in the 90s,” Crowley says. Now the Internet is the group's best way of recruiting new members while also keeping current ones updated on the club’s happenings.

A quick scan of the club’s Facebook page suggests that members are active, even beyond the three weekly runs–a Saturday run in Middlesex Fells and two Sunday runs in Blue Hills–one for new members and the other for veterans. The former Sunday run is geared toward runners looking for a moderate run with great socializing. The latter run often involves running 20-plus miles through the undulating forests of the Blue Hills.

No runner is left behind.

Club membership is free and there are no presidents, secretaries or any other assigned positions. And, as the website explains, “trail humor is priceless.”

Says Reji James, 45, of Boston, “As runners, we are better off spending time running than doing administrative tasks.”



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