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Amherst fundraiser isn't exactly a walk in the woods

AMHERST — A unique hiking and running challenge is being planned along a rough terrain course in the Amherst woods, an event that is not designed for the faint of heart, according to race organizers.

The demanding, rugged race dubbed the Joe English Trail Challenge 25K begins in the fields of Freestyle Farm, a private equestrian facility along Mack Hill Road in Amherst.

The purpose of the upcoming fundraising event is to collect money for the Amherst Land Trust, which is charged with protecting open space and conservation land throughout town.

“There is going to be some very challenging terrain here. The race is in the woods across streams and rock outcrops,” said George Bower, race organizer. “It will be slower pace, and there will be sections that you just can’t run but will have to be hiked — that is part of the fun.”

The course will loop around a pond and descend a short 30 percent grade while entering the backcountry of the 588-acre Joe English Reservation. Moderate to steep ascents and descents on trails with multiple stream crossings will be encountered along the way, coupled with a series of rugged climbs, rocky slopes, obstacles and ledges, said race organizers.

The 15.5-mile running challenge may take anywhere from 3 to 7 hours to complete, according to Bower. There are no paved surfaces, houses or traffic on the course.

“The event is really set up as a race against yourself — to see if you can complete the course. We really want people to participate and challenge themselves to do the event, and come back next year after more conditioning and fitness work,” said Bower.

Jim Hendrix, trustee of the Amherst Land Trust, said the event will be one of the first of its kind in New Hampshire, and he anticipates it will become an annual tradition.

“We wanted to do something unique that would draw a lot of people and businesses and brands,” said Hendrix. “This will be a substantial fundraiser for us to help conserve even more land throughout town.”

Early last year, a joint effort was made to purchase a prime parcel of Grater Woods conservation land to help preserve and maintain Amherst’s rural and scenic charm.

The event is ideal for competitive runners and outdoor and fitness enthusiasts, said Bower. Registrations are already being accepted for an early entry fee of $55.

The race is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. May 3, with registration starting at 7 a.m.

For more information or to obtain a registration form, visit


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