TARC Winter Classic
Join us for the 2023 Trail Animals Running Club Winter Classic at Middlesex Fells Reservation, with 8 mile and 32 mile distance options! You can read all the exciting details below!
Please note: This race sells out, and there are no refunds, no transfers, and no deferrals (except for emergencies)!
Saturday, December 2, in Stoneham, Massachusetts
Start/Finish Location: Fallon Road, Stoneham, Massachusetts, 02180 (please see parking section for address)
The DCR Middlesex Fells Reservation Skyline Trail provides participants with an epic outing of roots, rocks, and elevation. In addition to constant climbs and descents throughout the course, runners can expect a classic New England path through the woods with East Coast technicality and scenic views of the Boston skyline (if you dare to look up from the rocks under your feet)!
Some things to note: no trekking poles allowed, no snowshoes are allowed, and no dogs are allowed. The course is on an open, public use trail. Please be respectful of other users such as hikers, walkers, and bikers.
Course Marking: The Skyline Trail is marked with white blazes throughout and their are no additional markings used on race day. 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 in the 32 miler must start their final 8 mile loop by 2:00 p.m. 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.
Mandatory Gear: Because this is a challenging course and we need to get runners off the course before dark, we have some cutoff times that we need to impose. If you are starting your last loop within 30 minutes of the cutoff for your distance you must bring a headlamp. We do not want runners potentially out in the dark without light.
Aid Stations: We will have one aid station at the start/finish of the 8 mile loop and one aid station approximately halfway through the loop (3.5 miles counter clockwise or 4.5 miles clockwise). 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 one hydration stops in 8 miles. We will also have compost bins set up near the start/finish aid station to collect your compostable garbage (fruit peels, leftover food bites, etc.) Please do not throw non compostable items in the compost bins. Portable restrooms will be at both aid stations have have menstrual products inside.
You can expect the following at each aid station in addition to other surprises:
Hyle Hydration, Soda, & Water (if you want to try out Hyle Hydration before the event, they were generous enough to give us the discount code TARC20 to share with everyone for use on their website)
Please let us know what additional requests you might have, and we will see what we can do!
Leave No Trace: The TARC Winter Classic 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).
The TARC Winter Classic is held on land that was home to the Massachusett, Naumkeag, and Pawtucket (Pennacook) 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. Running on Native lands gives us all the opportunity to connect with and reflect on the history of the land and the communities who have lived here for centuries.
Saturday, December 2, 2023 | Race Day
05:45 a.m. | 32M Bib Pick Up Opens
06:50 a.m. | 32M Prerace Briefing
07:00 a.m. | 32M Race Start (& Yeti Howl!)
08:00 a.m. | 8M Bib Pick Up Opens
09:20 a.m. | 8M Prerace Briefing
09:30 a.m. | 8M Race Start (& Yeti Howl!)
01:30 p.m. | Headlamp Required for Participants Starting Last Loop
02:00 p.m. | Last Loop Cutoff at the Start/Finish Area
04:15 p.m. | Course Closes for All Participants
Fall Course Preview Runs:
We will be hosting course preview runs in November. Details can be found on Facebook and our Monthly Group Runs page. Join us for some casual training miles at Stoneham's Middlesex Fells Reservation.
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 Winter Classic across all distances is $32. 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:
Participants will have to email the Race Director in order to switch their distance or 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.
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 Winter Classic 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 Winter Classic 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 parta potties (where applicable), 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.
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.
Pacers & Crew:
Pacers are only allowed for 32 mile participants during their last 8 mile loop at the TARC Winter Classic. Participants who do not adhere to these rules risk disqualification. Crew access is allowed only at the start/finish aid station. Crew should not attempt to visit the on course aid station. This is to allow for the necessary parking access for volunteers and other visitors of Middlesex Fells Reservation. Please be aware that parking at the start/finish will be tight until around noon on race day, and parking spots are not guaranteed for crew unless they carpool with their runner(s). Participants are welcome to leave their gear by the start/finish area and they will pass it every 8 miles if they are running the 32 miler.
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 December.
View and register for the various shifts here.
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. 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:
All runners should park at 4 N Border Road, Stoneham, Massachusetts, 02180, Hall Memorial Pool & Splash Pad. This is a 0.5 mile walk from the start/finish area. Please carpool! It’s good for the planet and it’s good for the race. Overflow parking will be on Fallon Rd and you will be directed to park there by a volunteer. Please do not block any business entrances if you need to park on Fallon Road.
Participants can post in the Trail Animals Running Club Facebook Group or on the Facebook event page coordinating carpools. Friends and family coming as spectators are encouraged to travel with the participants they are supporting.
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 uber duber chilly ones! In New England, we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best!
Looking for folks to run and train with? Here are some local groups:
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 Winter Classic:
Held on Dec 03, 2011
Held on Dec 01, 2012
Held on Dec 07, 2013
Held on Dec 06, 2014
Held on Dec 05, 2015
Held on Dec 03, 2016
Held on Dec 02, 2017
Held on Dec 01, 2018
Held on Dec 07, 2019
Scheduled on Dec 05, 2020 (canceled)
Held on Dec 04, 2021
Held on Dec 03, 2022
Scheduled on Dec 02, 20223
Starting in 2023, all results for the TARC Winter Classic can be found here.
8M Male Record: New in 2023!
8M Female Record: New in 2023!
8M Nonbinary Record: New in 2023!
32M Male Record: 04:09:53 | 2018 | Patrick Caron (21)
32M Female Record: 05:50:20 | 2018 | Nora Weathers (23)
32M Nonbinary Record: To be determined
40M Male Record: 05:29:48 | 2018 | David Sinclair (26)
40M Female Record: 07:11:54 | 2018 | Kassandra Marin (29)
40M Nonbinary Record: To be determined
Reviews & Reports:
Let us know if you have any reviews or reports of our event that you want to share with the community!