AUBURN — More than 40 runner sled aficionados participated in the first Fastest Runner Sledder in the Valley competition Saturday night, a collaboration between Lost Valley and the New England Runner Sled Association.

According to Travis Dow, marketing director of Lost Valley, the collaboration came to fruition after Brian Trahan II of the New England Runner Sled Association and a three-time champion of the race, reached out to Lost Valley “about bringing the race from the backwoods where it started to a real venue.”

The association began in the mid-2000s in Montville, a small town in Waldo County. Competitors participate in time trials and those with the fastest times compete in head-to-head races until first, second and third place is determined.

All participants must use runner sleds, wooden, steerable sleds that are far from the thin, plastic sleds frequently used in modern-day sledding.

The winner of the competition is deemed “the Fastest Runner Sledder in All the Land” for the year and receives a runner sled trophy with his or her name printed on the front.

The Lost Valley track took sledders down Rabbit Run and Foxhole Trail before taking a sharp right down part of Bear Trail and finishing on Lower Foxhole trail.


Many of the sledders faced a common obstacle while sledding through the course: making the turn through the Lower Foxhole trail that led to the finish line.

According to Scott Berube, Lost Valley race director, there was a patch of soft snow on a stretch of the Lower Foxhole trail, resulting in some sledders having trouble navigating the final turn, sending them careening into the fence.

For some of the sledders competing in Saturday night’s event, the thrill of the competition was what drew them.

For others, it was an attempt to recapture some of the simple excitement that comes with sledding down a hill at nearly 30 miles per hour.

Seth Marston of Windham said that he heard about the race last year, when it was being held at Hogback Mountain in Montville.

“I’m friends with some of the people who organize the event, so I decided to give it a try,” Marston said.


Marston, who finished with the fifth fastest time at 1 minute, 12.37 seconds, said that while it was fun to compete against others who enjoy runner sledding, it was also refreshing to look back.

“As soon as you get on the sled and start going down that hill, it takes you back to when you were a kid and sledding down big hills,” Marston said. “The community of runner sledders is definitely growing.”

Kevin Bailey, 59, of Windham said that he heard about the New England sled group and its yearly race six or seven years ago when he saw videos of their races online.

In the ensuing years, Bailey and several like-minded runner sledders formed their own local runner sled organization — the American Runner Sled Syndicate.

During the winter months, Bailey said that he and the other sledders in Windham try and sled as much as they can.

“I have a track behind my home and every winter, we’ll run the lights at night and go down it,” he said.


For Saturday’s race, Bailey brought three sleds with him: two sleek, modern sleds with red trim and a third sled that he said “is probably from the 1940s.”

“You can find old runner sleds at yard sales or garage sales,” Bailey said.

Sledders of all ages participated in Saturday’s races, though Bailey said “there’s a reason you see a lot of the racers out there being 40 or older.”

“For most of us older sledders, these were the sleds we used when we were kids,” Bailey said. “It’s just so much fun to get back out there on the hills.”

Bailey ended up finishing with the second fastest time trial at 1:09.52, finishing only behind Trahan II, who scored a 1:08.20 run.

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