TA News

2000 Student Athletes Take on Woods Trail

For the last 29 years, Thetford Academy has been the proud host of the Woods Trail Run, widely considered the best of New England’s middle and high school cross country circuit every year. This year, as bus after bus pulled into TA’s lots, the temperature hovered at 32 degrees and a dense fog hung over the campus.

The cold temperatures did nothing to dampen the energy and excitement of the 96 middle and high school cross country teams who flooded TA’s parking lots and fields. Swathed in blankets and huddled with their teammates, nearly 2,000 students prepared to take on the unique challenge of the Woods Trail.

In her opening remarks, new Head of School Carrie Brennan noted that though this was her first Woods Trail Run, she had been hearing colleagues and community members talk about the event with pride:

On behalf of all of us at Thetford Academy and the Thetford community, I welcome you to the 2019 Woods Trail Run!

Today is my first time experiencing this premier cross-country event in our very own backyard. Colleagues and community members have been telling me about this day since I arrived on the job months ago.
Like children trying to describe the unique excitement of Christmas morning, they can’t always find the right words. But I can see the magic and joy in their eyes – and I can hear the pride in their stories. The stories of athletes from urban schools who have never had the chance to run on wooded trails and end their race in tears because of the beauty. The stories of community volunteers of all ages who come out year after year to make this event come together, even when the run lands on the opening day of deer season.

One colleague summed up the day to me in one big word: utopia.The Woods Trail Run is community at its best, he said. It’s a utopia.Thank you to everyone for being a part of today and creating this utopia. The runners and coaches from throughout New England, all of our local volunteers, and the fans who’ve come out to cheer on the races.

Let me close with a few special notes of gratitude:

  • I want to shine the spotlight this morning on one TA champion in particular – an alumni dad, former trustee, and visionary community member – for imagining all of this three decades ago and making it a reality … Dan Grossman!
  • Be sure to visit the concession stand run by the TA Alumni Association, who are volunteering today to keep us all fed – and raising thousands of dollars for teacher grants and school programs. Thank you to all of our loyal alums!
  • Let’s give it up for our Meet Director Blendon Salls, Assistant Director Therese Linehan, and our Volunteer Coordinators Amy Huyffer and Karen Heinzmann, who took care of the complex event logistics.

    Now, let the races begin!

And so the sun came out, bringing more seasonable (and perfect running) temperatures–and the races began. Among the runners, 46 Thetford Academy cross country team members.

Alumnus Bel Spelman gives a pep talk to TA’s Tad Darrah before the race.

TA Results

Competing with 700 high school boys, Thetford had a strong showing overall with an 11th place team finish. The boys were led by Tad Darrah in 10th (17:15.67) and Tobin Durham in 17th (19:39.08). Eamon Deffner finished in 42nd (18:11.24) and Liam Patterson in 231st (20:14.30).

TA’s high school girls were led by Madelyn Durkee, who won her seed (20:42.92) and earned a 21st place finish overall. Abby Egner and Layla Hanissian finished 161st and 189th respectively (23:37.55 and 23:59.67).

In the middle school races, the TA girls finished 2nd as a team (tied for their best-ever finish), and the TA boys finished in a best-ever 4th place, led by Brady Sloop, who broke the TA 7th-grade course record.


Here is a teaser for free and downloadable photos of the event, courtesy of Dan Grossman. Please visit Dan’s SmugMug site, Maple Leaf Photos, for more. Big thanks to Dan, whose work on behalf of TA as a long-time volunteer, a board member, alumni parent, and visionary of this iconic TA event nearly 30 years ago, has been a enormous gift to our community.



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