Trails Fest provides enjoyment for everyone involved

Jamie Glenn/Daily Mining Gazette Participants run during Sunday’s 10K trail run as part of the 25th annual Copper Harbor Trails Fest sponsored by Bell’s Beer Sunday.

COPPER HARBOR — The 25th annual Bell’s Beer Copper Harbor Trails Festival took place this weekend in Copper Harbor as one final salute to summer with a cross country run and mountain bike races, along with food, music and adult beverages.

Ben Ciavola, president of the Copper Harbor Trails Club, said that the 25th running of the event brought a record number of participants.

“It’s been a really big deal,” he said. “This year has been fantastic. We’ve had a lot of participants. We had more people come to the park last night for music and food and beer then we have had in a really long time.

“We are growing as an event (and) hopefully keeping people happy. I’ve heard nothing but good things and hopefully everyone is having a good time.”

The races went very well, said Ciavola.

“We had some very muddy conditions but luckily our trails are nice and durable, and we get to ride them in all (conditions),” he said. “Racers had to go through some pretty big puddles, but (they) had a great race.

“With 25 years behind us, we’ve got quite a bit of momentum and quite a bit of a legacy to live up to, so our goal is to make every year better than the last year. I think we’re on track to do that.”

Peter Connen of Duluth, Minnesota, finished the 10K Trail Run on Sunday with a final time of 46:45.7 at his first Trails Fest event, which was tops among all competitors.

“I had wanted to see what the mountain bike trails were like because I had heard good things about them for awhile now,” Connen said. “(Saturday,) I had a flat tire so I didn’t get to finish the mountain bike race, so I figured I’d come do the running race.”

A wrong turn at the start of the run forced Connen to work harder than he wanted to in order to cross the finish line first.

“We took a wrong turn right at the beginning so maybe five of us that ran a half mile in the wrong direction. We came back and had to pass everybody. (We) got up to the front pretty quick, and then it was just beautiful trail-running.”

Second place finisher Benjamin Schimpf of Marquette has attended this event for a number of years, but this was his first year running the 10K race. He finished at 47:42.4.

“It feels good,” Schrimpf said. “These guys kind of took a wrong turn, so I don’t know if I can claim second, but it’s a fun run.

“It’s nice to get up here. I’ve been wanting to run (here) for years.”

Kristen Monahan of Houghton finished first among females in the 10K race, and took fourth place overall, with a final time of 48:58.4.

“I went the wrong way (for) about three minutes, so that upset me, but I ran pretty hard after that. It was really fun,” she said. “I’m definitely a better technical trail-runner. The flat road-running is mentally tough on me. My favorite was the last part of the Point Trail on Paul’s Plunge. It’s really technical and really fun. I love running in that kind of terrain.”