Hit the Trail, Running at Niquette Bay State Park

By:  Lisa Liotta, Niquette Bay State Park Ranger
Niquette Bay State Park in Colchester, at the north end of Mallet’s Bay, offers six and a half miles of wooded hiking trails with sweeping vistas in close proximity to the Burlington metro area.  The trails are designed in a series of three interlocking loops, all of which bring you to a different place on almost a mile of Lake Champlain shoreline. A popular park with local area walkers and hikers, the trails are as yet an undiscovered gem for trail runners.

As the park ranger here at Niquette Bay, I have the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people.  This spring, one of our regular park visitors mentioned to me that he had just participated a 100 mile long trail run, and that it was his training and running regularly here on the trails in the park that made it all possible.

I’d like to introduce you to David Delibac.  Dave is an ultra-marathon trail runner.  What is that, you may ask?  An ultra-marathon is an event longer than the traditional marathon length of 26.2 miles.  And, trail running is a sport which consists of running and hiking over trails instead of roads.  Usually the course takes place on hiking trails, often in mountainous terrain and with extreme course obstacles such as inclement weather, elevation changes, and rugged terrain.  Combine all these elements, and you have an ultra-race.

After years of running road marathons, Dave attempted his first ultra-race when he turned fifty.  His birthday present to himself that year was to run a fifty mile trail run in his fiftieth year.  So, that’s what he did, and he was hooked!  Pretty much everything after that point was trail running, and eleven years later, he now runs between three and six ultra-races every year.  Dave’s preference is to run 50-100 mile distances.

I asked Dave, what does he do to keep in shape and train for an ultra-race?  Dave says, “Just go.  Just go out and do something, just move!  I run one or two laps here in the park (3.5-7 miles), 3-5 days a week, all year.”  Dave logs about 1000 miles a year on the trails at Niquette Bay.  In the winter he uses snowshoes and creepers, but he still gets out and runs.

Typically there’s not much ice here, and there are enough visitors year-round that keep the snow reasonably well packed.  Dave says, the great thing about this park is that the trail system is clean enough that you can run 99% of it.  There’s a technical piece of it with the rocks and such on that make it a challenge at whatever pace you want to run.  If you want to run really hard, it becomes even more challenging.  You can run it backwards and forwards, and every day is different. 


Dave adds, the fun of trail running for him is that you get to see a lot of things you may never see any other way.  He used to like road racing and mainstream running, but points out that you’re on the road looking at cars or people.  Instead, it’s now all about running on trails and being outside, where you’re looking at your surroundings and the natural beauty of the woods, fields, meadows, rivers, brooks, and wildlife.  Running in the park a couple of hundred days a year doesn't get boring, every single day is different than the day before.  You get to see deer, turkeys, an occasional bear, squirrels, geese in the fall, and ducks in the spring.  And, the loons at both ends of the year on Lake Champlain are pretty cool as well.

Are there any other state parks where Dave runs?  Yes - Dave also runs the Sunset Ridge Trail and the summits at Underhill State Park, but most of the time it’s here at Niquette Bay as it’s just 15 minutes away from home.

What advice does Dave have for anyone who may be interested in trail running?  “Just go start hiking, and do a lot of hiking!  If you’ve been doing some road running, get out there and just do a little bit of running on the trails.  Then, do a little bit more, a little bit more, and work into it.  Running with some friends is a lot of fun, or, bring your dog.”  (Dogs are welcome at Niquette Bay State Park in both on-leash and off-leash areas.)

How did Dave perform at the 100 mile Pittsfield Peak Race in June?  He finished in about 50 hours, 40 of which was actual running time. He will be 62 in January, and he doesn't know if there’s been anyone over 60 who’s ever finished, or even tried to run that race.  

He may be first in a couple of different ways.

Congratulations, Dave!  See you out on the trail in the park, running.

If you are interested in trail running or hiking, or are a trail runner now, why not participate in the Sjogren’s Rockin’ 5K Trail Run & Walk here at Niquette Bay State Park on Saturday, September 14, 2013?  This is an inaugural 5K run in the park over beautiful wooded trails with sweeping lake views.    You can register and find out more information at:  http://www.active.com/running/colchester-vt/sjogrens-rockin-5k-trail-run-and-walk-2013

You can view a trail map at this link

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