HARVARD — The Harvard Conservation Trust, with the Harvard Road Race Association, is sponsoring a 5K (3.1-mile) trail run called “Run for the Hills” on Sept. 12.
The run will go through a portion of Harvard’s conservation land, beginning at the track in Harvard Park and following trails through the park and Maxant Field.
“This race is a great opportunity to showcase the beauty and value of protected open space,” said Ted MacMahon, race director and HCT trustee. “The planned route, suitable for all ages, will take you on a scenic run through relatively flat wooded areas, around open fields, and along Bowers Brook in the Maxant Conservation Land.”
According to the “Harvard Trails” guide, published by HCT, the 19-acre Maxant Conservation Land was gifted to the town by Ted Maxant in 1987. The property’s trail follows the winding course of Bowers Brook through hardwood groves and around wetlands teeming with bird life. The northern tip of the trail leads to a hill in a Hemlock grove. Named “Millie’s Path,” the trail was developed to allow residents of Foxglove Apartments a safe walking route to the post office. It was named in honor of Millie Henry, whose son, Michael Henry, was one of the key players in the path’s development.
Michael Henry also created “Ginny’s Woodland Path” in Harvard Park, where the race begins with a starting lap on the track, then circles around to the finish, ending with a victory lap. The path is named for Virginia Thurston, local resident, town leader and former president of Worcester County Horticultural Society.
Harvard Park is another example of an open space in town. The park was purchased and designed by the town to provide residents with 30 acres of outdoor opportunities. This included a community fundraising effort to build the McCurdy Outdoor Track, named after Harvard University’s track coach, William “Bill” McCurdy, a Harvard resident who died in 1999.
Outdoor opportunities are plentiful in Harvard, largely due to the efforts of the town’s Conservation Commission and HCT. For 37 years, the trust has helped protect Harvard’s landscape through singular efforts or in concert with the town. They have helped protect more than 600 acres of open space. The trust’s mission is “to preserve the unique character and natural resources of Harvard.”
The trust often sponsors events to bring people closer to the land around them. “Walks and Talks” are well attended forays into conservation land for purposes of seeking out specific nature sightings, like the woodcock.
” ‘Run for the Hills’ is the first event of this kind we have sponsored,” said MacMahon, “but Harvard has a long and deep history of trail running. Given the buzz this race has already generated, I am confident it will become a popular annual event, something people will look forward to every year.”
Proceeds from the race will go to the trust to further their mission. For more information about HCT, or to become a member, visit www.harvardconservationtrust.org.