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TARC Stone Cat Trail Festival


Saturday, November 4, 2023

Willowdale State Forest, Ipswich, Massachusetts

Free Youth Fun Run, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, 50 Miler, &100K 

Please note: This race sells out, and there are no refunds, no transfers, and no deferrals (except for emergencies)!

Note from the New Race Director: The history of Stone Cat goes back more than two decades, with the first edition of this classic event held on November 10, 2001. For many runners in New England, it was their first trail race, their first marathon, or their first ultra. It quickly became the beloved fall event for trail runners in the region and has always been an opportunity to reconnect with friends late in the season and share some smiles and miles together out in the woods. The fine folks of Gil's Athletic Club, or as they call themselves, "that bunch of runners in Topsfield," have been keeping Stone Cat going from the very start, turning it into the truly special event that it is by volunteering their time for hundreds, possibly thousands of hours in the chilly November temps to keep runners moving and happy. In 2022, with many memories made, they decided it was time to say goodbye, closing out 21 awesome editions and hosting what they thought would be the final race.


When one chapter ends, another one begins.... Having heard the news and seeing members of the community's passionate responses, many of whom were saddened to learn of the race's retirement, I decided to reach out and see if there was an opportunity to offer support or help in keeping the event going. I have been lucky to have participated in other events by Gil's Athletic Club in my running journey thus far (both the New Year's 50K and the Mother's Day 6 Hour), and have always appreciated the atmosphere, community, and feeling of welcomeness present. I have also always wanted to run Stone Cat since discovering the sport of ultrarunning, and that would be challenging to do without the race around anymore! Following some initial conversations with the GAC crew, they were looking for someone new to direct the event, and well, it was hard to say no, as it felt like the perfect way to give back to the community I love, even if race directing would make getting the chance to run the event myself additionally challenging haha! So here we are, entering another year and another chance to come together and run in Willowdale State Forest! I hope you will join me in this new chapter of the event, and thanks for making it easy to say yes to opportunities like these! It is an honor and joy to be your race director! 

Run gently, and see you on the trails!

Patrick Caron


Course Details:


Start/Finish Location: Paul F. Doyon Memorial School at 216 Linebrook Road, Ipswich, Massachusetts, 01938

The TARC Stone Cat Trail Festival course is a mix of double track and single track, in Willowdale State Forest. The terrain is very runnable but has its fair share of roots and rocks throughout. The course is rolling, with around 1,100 feet of elevation per 12.5 mile loop. With the race held in November, fallen leaves may obscuring the footing.

100K, 50M, Marathon, & Half Marathon: The 100K, 50M, Marathon, and Half Marathon will all utilize the same 12.5 mile loop in Willowdale State Forest. The 100K will consist of five main loops, with two additional one mile loops around the field at the start, the 50M will consist of four main loops, the Marathon will consist of two main loops, with two additional 1K loops around the field at the start, and the Half Marathon will consist of one main loop, with one additional 1K loop around the field at the start.

Map (stay tuned)

Strava Link

10K: The course will be one 10K loop. The beginning four miles will share the course of the 100K, 50M, Marathon, and Half Marathon, and then veer off to take participants back to the start/finish.

Map (stay tuned)

Strava Link (stay tuned)

Course Markings: The course will be well marked with flagging all along the trails and with signs at any major intersections so that participants can easily stay on route (as long as they are paying attention!). Participants should be sure to review both the course maps and the course description beforehand to understand the general layout of the various distances. We recommend participants also download the GPX file and load it onto their GPS watches if they have one for additional reassurance. If you go off course on race day, you must backtrack, as opposed to making up your own version of the course. Review of GPS files will be done if it is believed the course was not followed by any given participant. Participants found to have not done the course as marked may be unable to get an official finish time. Please let the volunteers know at the aid stations if there are any navigation issues and we will work with you and others to sort them out.

Cutoff Times: Participants must start the final 12.5 mile loop for the 50M by 3:00 pm to continue on the course (37.5 miles in 10 hours). Participants must start the final 12.5 mile loop for the 100K by 4:30 pm to continue on the course (50 miles in 11.5 hours). The course closes for all participants at 7:00 pm (14 hours from the start). Please respect the cutoff times enforced by our timers and volunteers. We will do everything we can to help you finish within the allotted time. The cutoffs are in place for both runner safety as well as the time commitment of volunteers and DCR park staff. No race day changes of distance or drop downs. For your finishing time you must complete the distance you signed up for.

Aid Stations: The course will have one aid station at the start/finish and one aid station around halfway through the loop. Please note this is a cupless race and you will need to bring your own hydration system (bottle/cup/vest/etc.). Run with fluids if you think you will need more than two hydration stops in 12.5 miles.

You can expect the following at each aid station (everything listed below is vegan friendly):

  • Hyle Hydration, Soda, Water, & Ice (if you want to try out Hyle Hydration before the event, they were generous enough to give us the discount code TARC20 for everyone's personal use!)

  • UnTapped Energy Gels & Waffles

  • Watermelon, Orange, & Banana Slices

  • Assorted Dried Fruit

  • Joe Joe's, Oreos, Girl Scout Cookies, Fig Newtons, Teddy Grahams, Nutter Butters, Chocolate Chips

  • Sour Patch Kids, Twizzlers, Swedish Fish, Jujyfruits

  • Potato Chips, Pringles, Fritos

  • Peanut Butter/Nutella Sandwiches

  • Boiled Potatoes

  • Vegan Quesadillas

  • Pickles

Please let us know what additional requests you might have, and we will see what we can do!

Leave No Trace: The TARC Stone Cat Trail Festival has a Leave No Trace policy. Please adhere to the Leave No Trace principles during the duration of the event (and we hope whenever you are out in nature).

Food & Drink Donations:

In previous editions of our events, much of our aid stations were made up of food and drink donations from our participants. We would like to keep that tradition going, with an updated twist. To cut down on aid station waste, we will be supplying the necessary food, but we invite everyone to bring food and drink donations that we will gather all together and donate to the local food pantry the day after the event. Please drop off any food donations at the start/finish when you go in to get your bib (one of the tables will be labeled for the donations). The food pantry accepts canned and dry items, and pretty much anything that is nonperishable (no items that need refrigeration, are expired, or are damaged).

Land Acknowledgement:

The TARC Stone Cat Trail Festival is held on land that was originally home of the Agawam ("beyond the marsh") and Pawtucket ("great falls") people, the original stewards of this territory. We encourage our participants to educate themselves on the history of the land we will be running on as well as the history of the land where you train and call home.


Saturday, November 4, 2023 | Race Day

4:10 a.m. | Bib Pick Up Opens at the Paul F. Doyon Memorial School

4:45 a.m. | 100K & 50M Prerace Briefing

5:00 a.m. | 100K & 50M Race Start (& Yeti Howl!)

5:45 a.m. | Marathon Prerace Briefing

6:00 a.m. | Marathon Start (& Yeti Howl!)

6:45 a.m. | Half Prerace Briefing

7:00 a.m. | Half Start (& Yeti Howl!)

7:45 a.m. | 10K Prerace Briefing

8:00 a.m. | 10K Race Start (& Yeti Howl!)

3:00 p.m. | 50M Last Loop Cutoff at the Start/Finish Area

4:30 p.m. | 100K Last Loop Cutoff at the the Start/Finish Area

7:00 p.m. | Course Closes for All Participants

Cost & Registration:

We keep the cost of all TARC events low to try and make our events as accessible as we can. The cost of the TARC Stone Cat Trail Festival across all distances (with the exception of the free youth fun run) is $25. Please see below for information on our discounted youth entries. Our event profits are donated to land conservations & trusts in support of our trail running passion. Please reach out if the cost is in any way a barrier to you. We want everyone to have the opportunity to experience the incredible trails and community at our event.


No race day registration is offered, and online registration closes at the beginning of race week. We recommend registering early in advance, as this event will sell out.

Switching Distances or Canceling Registration:

TARC Stone Cat Trail Festival participants can edit their registration and distance through RunReg. Go to Account History and then Registration History and click "Edit" next to the TARC Stone Cat Trail Festival. Change to the distance you desire and click "Update Registration." You will have the ability to edit your distance up to Monday, October 30 at 7:00 p.m. This gives our timing crew enough time to manage the bibs for all participants before race day. If you need help or have any questions, you can email the Race Director, but please try these methods first to expedite the process!


Participants will have to email the Race Director in order to cancel their registration.

Pregnancy Deferral Policy:

We understand there are many barriers for new parents and pregnant runners within the sport of trail running. Participants who become pregnant prior to race day or are the parents to a recent newborn can defer their entry to our event for up to two years. The race reserves the right to require additional proof of pregnancy. Please reach out to the Race Director at least one week prior to race day to process your deferral.


Refund Policy:

TARC races maintain a no refund policy. There will be no refunds for any reason. Any requests for a refund will be politely directed to this blurb. Please consider your race entry a donation to the trails, but one where you also get a chance to challenge yourself physically and mentally while taking in all the beauty the landscape has to offer.


USATF Mountain/Ultra/Trail Running Youth Initiative:


To raise awareness of trail races among young runners and increase participation, the American Trail Running Association has partnered with the USATF MUT Youth Initiative to create a “Youth Trail” certified program for race directors. The TARC Stone Cat Trail Festival is one of the early adopters of their program, and we offer discounted entries ($10 off) across all distances for youth 19 years old or under.


Please reach out if you are looking to register yourself or someone else through this program.


Trail Sisters Approved Event:


The TARC Stone Cat Trail Festival is proud to be Trail Sisters Approved! The commitment includes, when applicable, equal podium spots, equal prize money & awards, women’s specific swag & apparel, menstrual products at aid station porta potties, and equal opportunity/space for women on the starting line. You can learn more about the standards and their awesome organization here.

Pride on Foot Partner:


Pride on Foot works with run groups, race directors, and fitness organizations who want to understand how to be more accepting and inclusive of Transgender, Genderqueer Intersex, Gender non conforming, and Non binary people. Through education and policy changes they create affirming, inviting, and safe spaces where everyone can be free to workout while living an authentic life.

Adaptive Athletes:

We welcome the participation of adaptive athletes at our event!

  • Adaptive athletes must be able to run the course.

  • Tethers and guides may be used for athletes with a visual impairment.

  • Leg prosthetics may be used for amputees.

  • Crutches, braces, or poles may be used if indicated/necessary, with approval from the Race Director.

  • Please reach out with any questions or to let us know how we can best support you and your race day needs.

  • Guides for adaptive athletes can register as participants if they want their own time/result.

Volunteer Opportunities:

We need volunteers to help make this special day happen and to give our participants the experience they deserve! This includes help with bib pickup, course directing, aid stations, course sweeping, start/finish area support, parking guidance, etc. Volunteers are what make TARC events so fun and also run so smoothly. No experience is required, and it can be your first time attending one of our events! If you are bringing along family or friends to spectate, we encourage them to also get involved by volunteering. If you are running one of the shorter races, consider hanging around to help out afterward. Even if you can't make it on the day of the race, there are still opportunities to get involved. If you need service requirements for other races, we can also sign off on your hours! If we get enough folks, too, it's never a problem for our volunteers to become "course marshals" and get some running in on the trails. All we ask is you help fill up some water bottles and tell runners they look awesome.

Please reach out if you or your organization are interested in volunteering. We welcome running clubs, hiking groups, sports teams, local businesses, and more to join us in November.

View and register for the various shifts here.

Participant Camaraderie:

Whether you are competing for the win or bringing up the rear of the pack, we are all out on the trails to have fun and move our bodies in nature. All of our participants are incredible for just getting to the starting line, and you all have impressive journeys for getting there. On race day, we hope you will be everyone else's top cheerleader, cheering on and providing support for one another throughout the morning. The looped nature of the course allows for the opportunity to frequently see other participants, so be sure to spread the love and joy with your fellow trail animals. We also welcome and encourage you to bring chairs and stick around after your own race to cheer on other participants as they come through the finish.

Parking & Travel:

*Please note that carpooling will be necessary! We only have around 250 parking spots for 400+ participants!*

Parking is available for participants right at the start/finish area at the Paul F. Doyon Memorial School (216 Linebrook Road, Ipswich, Massachusetts, 01938). When you arrive at the school you will be directed to parking. Please do not park in the fire lane in front of the school and please tell your friends and family arriving later the same. Any cars parked on Linebrook Road near the school will be ticketed. Participants can post in the Trail Animals Running Club Facebook Group or on the TARC Stone Cat Trail Festival Facebook event page coordinating carpools. Friends and family coming as spectators are encouraged to travel with the participants they are supporting. No camping is available.

Running in the Woods & Weather:

Please prepare for all manner of weather, insects, critters, trail rash, etc! Historically, this race has fluctuated between nice and cool days and very chilly ones! In New England, we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best!

Community Resources:

Looking for folks to run and train with? Here are some local groups:

TARC Blue Hills & Great Brook Farm State Park Monthly Group Runs

Northeast Trail Crew Weekly Runs

Pioneers Run Crew Weekly Runs

Unnamed Run Crew Weekly Runs

Berkshire Trailheads

Forest Hills Runners

Lynn Woods Running Crew

Somerville Road Runners

Wampanoag Road Runners

Tri Valley Front Runners

Greater Framingham Running Club


Looking for trail shoes and gear? Here are some local stores we recommend:


Marathon Sports (multiple locations)

Heartbreak Hill Running Company (multiple locations)

Fleet Feet/JackRabbit (multiple locations)

Recreation Equipment Inc. (multiple locations)

New England Running Company & Trail (Beverly)

Charles River Running (Norwood)


Who We Are:

The Trail Animals Running Club is a nonprofit running club rooted in the Boston area. We aim to act as community stewards by providing equitable access to trail running and promoting positive trail running culture. We welcome people of all races, nationalities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities & expressions, ages, and abilities. Our event profits are donated to land conservations & trusts in support of our trail running passion. You can RSVP for emails about our runs here.


Trail Animals Running Club Apparel:

You can purchase our fun club apparel here! We are working on offering additional apparel which will be added to this page!

History of the TARC Stone Cat Trail Festival:

Held of Nov 10, 2001

Held of Nov 09, 2002

Held of Nov 08, 2003

Held of Nov 13, 2004

Held of Nov 12, 2005

Held of Nov 06, 2006

Held of Nov 10, 2007

Held of Nov 08, 2008

Held of Nov 07, 2009

Held of Nov 06, 2010

Held of Nov 05, 2011

Held of Nov 03, 2012

Held of Nov 02, 2013

Held of Nov 08, 2014

Held of Nov 07, 2015

Held of Nov 05, 2016

Held of Nov 04, 2017

Held of Nov 03, 2018

Held of Nov 02, 2019

Scheduled on Nov 07, 2020 (canceled)

Held of Nov 06, 2021

Held on Nov 05, 2022

Scheduled on Nov 04, 2023

Course Records:

10K Male Record: To be determined

10K Female Record: To be determined

Half Marathon Male Record: To be determined

Half Marathon Female Record: To be determined

Marathon Male Record: 02:54:33 | 2012 | John Dudley (34)

Marathon Female Record: 03:16:15 | 2013 | Aliza Lapierre (33)

50K Male Record: 03:49:42 | 2019 | Jason Smith (29)

50K Female Record: 04:13:58 | 2022 | Lila Gaudrault (20)

50M Male Record: 06:10:55 | 2013 | Sebastien Roulier (39)

50M Female Record: 07:16:13 | 2011 | Aliza Lapierre (31)

100K Male Record: To be  determined

100K Female Record: To be determined

Reviews & Reports:

2007 Race Report by Ian Parlin

2008 Race Report by Dan Scotina

2008 Race Report by Ian Parlin

2010 Race Report by Valerie Abradi

2010 Race Report Danielle Triffitt

2010 Race Report by Dan Scotina

2011 Race Report by Mark Manz

2014 Race Report by Carly Eisley

2015 Race Report by Ben Kimball

2016 Race Report by Caleb Daniloff

2017 Race Report by Nick Lunger

2018 Race Report by Rebecca Weston

Let us know if you have any reviews or reports of our event that you want to share with the community!

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