In this series of articles, the American Trail Running Association recognizes and celebrates trail runners like Vincent Aceto who have dedicated themselves as everyday athletes to grow trail running in their community. “View from the Pack” is supported by ATRA corporate member RaidLight.
Vincent Aceto is a past member of Maine Track Club and this winter, he will be getting involved more with Trail Monsters Running Club. He’s a recent ATRA member and said, “I figured the road clubs would not help me, and since I was always buying trail running magazines to get the latest training and inspiration, I joined ATRA and now I get Trail Runner Magazine delivered to my door, monthly e-newsletters, and a discount to Ultrarunning Magazine.”
Hometown: Currently residing in Westbrook, Maine
Years Running on Trails: I’ve been trail running consistently since 2011, although my first race was in 2006, the Pineland Farms Trail Festival 50K in New Gloucester, Maine. In 2015, I ran the Bradbury Mountain Trail Running Series with 6- 9- and 12-mile events.
Miles Per Week on trails: I usually get in a solid 15 miles a week on trails. I live in the city, but run to, or drive and park at a trail head. I live 45 minutes from Shawnee Peak, which has a trail system off the slope as well. My neighbor joins me two to three times a month to hit trails, but for the most part I go solo.
Number of Trail Races Run Each Year: I run about 2-3 trail races a year and I’m looking to do more in 2019.
Longest Trail Race Completed: 50K is the longest…thus far, but I’m training for the Pineland Trail Festival 50 miler to be held in May 2019. I am inspired to run a 50 because my goal is to complete a 100 miler.
What Got You Into Trail Running?
I had the desire to run trails especially since I was always hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. I completed the 67 New England 4,000-foot summits, and I ran about half of the trails I hiked as time went on. Inspired after the death of my mother, who was struck with stage-four pancreatic cancer, it became more peaceful to be out on trails rather than the road.
What Motivates You to Keep Running?
The clarity it gives me. I run a lot in my town. Lots of people think I am a competitive racer even though I’m not all that fast. I tell them some runs are to exercise the mind.
Have you witnessed any differences between trail running and road running?
I think the trail running community is a unique group that you don’t see when you run the road races. There is such a different vibe perhaps because everyone is so relaxed once they get around trees and the fresh air. Running the road is fun don’t get me wrong, there is just no one around blowing their horn at you, but rather a cowbell on the trails…which is way more motivating.
Trail running is a sport where you can line up at the start with some of the best trail runners in the world. Does this intimidate you, foster a sense of inclusion, or fall somewhere in between?
Actually, in my last trail race at the Loon Mountain Race, I was standing around talking to U.S. Mountain Running Team members. I had no idea who they were, and just introduced themselves without saying, “Hey look at me, I am a national team member.” They were so down to earth asking me where I was from and talking about how gorgeous the area was. Even after the race, one of the team members asked me how I faired. It was a very cool experience.
What is your opinion of the camaraderie you’ve witnessed in trail racing?
Cowbells, loose atmosphere, great beer. You can walk up to the starting line in trail shorts, regular shirt and sandals…no judgment.
What advice would you give to a fellow runner who may be hesitant about entering a trail race?
I would say expect to run a bit slower of a time. Also, be respectful of the trail. Leave your music at home. Listen to the surroundings and how the peaceful competitive nature makes it a fun positive experience. Oh yeah, look down once in a while…ROOTS.
People often reward themselves after a hard trail race. What is your post-race indulgence?
I usually do not get into the whole spoil myself with a special food. I like a good beer, good conversation and well OK, a burger or whatever the awesome race officials provide.
Do you have a favorite motivational trail race story to share?
I would say it was on the Cranmore Mountain Race a few years back. The race looped around the mountain twice. As I came down and the leaders were going past me, one said to me, “Hey you got this. See you at the finish.”
Sure enough there stood the winner of the race cheering away as us older guys trotted across the line. I saw him after and said thanks for the words when we crossed paths. He said, “We are all a team.” I thought yeah, this is my kind of racing team to be on.