Here’s one familiar to most active runners in town, but I thought I would write this one up for visitors, or neophytes to trailrunning. I am talking, of course, about the short section of the TAM that circles the golf course. A run around this loop over lunchtime or late afternoon is pretty much guaranteed to involve passing (or being passed by) other runners on the trail. Despite its convenience, this trail is not without its interesting features.
I am going to describe the counterclockwise version of the run, for no other reason that that was what I felt like. Starting at the Middlebury College Fieldhouse, head uphill on Rt. 30 for about a third of a mile and take a left along the golf course entry road at the top of the hill. Follow this paved road past the clubhouse, and stay along the edge of the golf course with the woods on your right as the paved driveway veers right. As you follow the path along the woods, be aware that golfers are behind you, and hope that the old man teeing up doesn’t have a bad slice (or is that a hook? I never had that straight, pun intended). At the end of the 10th hole, the trail re-enters the woods, where shortly you are faced with the option of going straight, and lengthening your run by about 50 yards, or going left. I went left this time. If you look carefully on your left as you run down the short steep hill, you will see a lone gravestone. This is worth taking a second to look at, as the poor fellow who lies buried there died in a rather macabre fashion, and no, he was not hit by lightning. The rest of the trail has its share of ups and downs, with none of these very significant. At a little over two miles, you reemerge from the woods into the open area behind the fieldhouse. Realizing that this is way too short to call a legitimate workout, you can do the loop again!
This time, head uphill to the left of the Panther Memorial Stadium, taking a moment to be impressed by the massive panther statue on a rock behind the stadium. Apparently some of our most generous alums went panther statue crazy 10-15 years ago, and now the campus is adorned with the outcomes of their generosity. The stadium panther is rather innocuous, but the sculpture of a panther eviscerating a deer is well hidden in the gardens of the President’s house. I might argue that their generosity might have been better used to establish, say, a new endowed chair in the Chemistry department, but who am I to argue?
Panther poised to pounce on unsuspecting runners
Completion of a second loop brings you to the backdoor of the fitness center at about 4.5 miles, a more respectable distance. Here you have the option of pounding on the back door and putting your face up against the glass longingly until someone disrupts their workout to let you in, or you can do the courteous thing by taking the 3 minutes to walk back around to the front door, and you needed the warmdown anyways.