Please welcome the fifth of our 2017 American Trail Running Association (ATRA) Trail Ambassadors presented by CamelBak. We’re proud to introduce you to Emily McDevitt, a trail runner from Camden, Maine, who builds community through her incredible marketing and fundraising prowess, club camaraderie, and writing. (Above Photo credit: Tom Platz)
Some of the skills Emily carries with her and shares with her community can be traced back to her days at Boston College where she majored in Psychology, and Vanderbilt where she earned her MBA.
We first introduced you to McDevitt, through an article she wrote for ATRA about her hometown club Trail Runners of Midcoast Maine. This enthusiastic dynamo is fondly described by her husband of 18 years, Jonathan, “There are two character traits that sit high above the many that I love. Emily is a runner. And Emily is a connector. One year ago, those two traits combined in an amazing way, when she created the Trail Runners of Midcoast Maine (TRoMM). Using the nearly forgotten remnants of a group run Facebook page, Emily created a vision and a new brand, and rallied a new community behind her passion. Her mission was simple. Bring people who love running, who love the outdoors, and who love dirt, together early, late and often to build a community.
“She wanted a community that would be strong in many ways…strong enough to welcome new and old in age, new and old in running experience…strong enough to welcome the slowest runner, and strong enough to kick some serious ass on the trail race circuit,” continues Jonathan. “She wanted people to share stories and adventures, to compare shoes and gear, and hydration and nutrition strategy. But above all else, Emily wanted people to have fun, and wanted us to be good stewards for the mountains and the trails, the surrounding towns, and the generous organizations and landowners who allow us to run on their dirt.”
At 52 years old, this stay-at-home mom was a lifetime road runner before converting to the trails less than three years ago, and has since shared her love of the trails with her family, “My husband runs, and our kids at 11 and 14 years old are trail runners. It happened organically at first. They went to trail races with me and supported my running. It was a great environment for them when they were really young, and now they are running with me. What I get asked a lot from parents is, ‘How did you get your kids to love running?’ My kids prefer the trails to the roads. It was their choice and seeing how my boys love trail running as much as I do is so rewarding.”
In addition to her trail running pursuits, McDevitt is an avid four-season mountain biker, snowshoe racer, Nordic and downhill skier. She serves on the Round the Mountain Committee in her hometown that is working to raise $4.2M dollars to protect two mountains – Bald and Ragged Mountains – in the Camden Hills, and build a 9-mile trail around the base of Ragged Mountain. Her enthusiasm for her community also extends to her role on the Board of Directors of the Points North Institute, which produces the Camden International Film Festival, one of the largest documentary film festivals in the world. McDevitt, a self-described organized individual says, “I have a kind of office-management approach. I always end up either in the office role, or the director/assistant director role.”
Relating a story to emphasize McDevitt’s passionate demeanor, her husband writes, “One year after joining the Film Festival board Emily and I were at a social event with another board member, when she asked him directly, “Why on earth did you ask me, someone who is passionate about the festival, but who has zero experience with the film industry, to join your board?” His response, “Because you have an uncanny ability to bring people together.”
McDevitt is a planner and a goal setter, and she has some thoughts about the future of TRoMM. “I love introducing people to trail running. I want to debunk the myths of the hard-core, challenge of trail running. I want to show how fun and accessible trail running is to everyone , regardless of their experience or ability. We’ll continue to put on group introductory runs so people can see what it is like to ‘run through the woods.’”
The club partnered with other groups in the community to host the inaugural Camden Snow Bowl Trail Fest in 2016. The event is planned for September 30 this year. McDevitt says, “I want to see this event grow and continue every fall. I see it expanding to an outdoor weekend in Camden with beer, music, mountain biking, trail running…a community gathering.”
McDevitt would like to see the club become self-sustaining. “We’ve had a lot of people step up and this is a good sign. Part of what we need is to identify others who are passionate about investing time, and the other is to raise money so that when we need to purchase club items, we have some cash on hand.”
Another goal is to collaborate with other groups. In June, TRoMM has a meeting set up with the Waldo County Trails Organization who oversees the Hills to Sea Trails. The meeting will center around adopting a section of this 47-mile trail, which runs from Unity Village to City Point in Belfast, Maine.
McDevitt would like to extend her trail running reach beyond her hometown. “Personally, I would like to get to more areas to enjoy more trails. I’ve been to the north and south of Maine, and I’d like to take my trail running further and get to know and enjoy other trails.”