Lake Waramaug in Fall

30 Years at Waramaug

How it all began...

Lake Waramaug viewOn May 11th, 1974, two runners gathered on the shores of Lake Waramaug, secluded in the foothills of western Connecticut, to begin, what would become, a historic day in the history of ultra-running. Along with a 50 mile race, for the first time ever on an American road, a 100K race was to be held. But to know how these runners found themselves at Waramaug we need to look back several years to the sleepy town of Bethel, CT. On a typical fall day in 1967, the Bethel high school cross country team has just finished their daily run of 3 or 4 miles. While the rest of the team is showering or heading home, two of the runners sneak away for a 15 mile training run, a distance unheard of for high schoolers in those days!

But for Dean Perry and Clayton "Jack" Bristol, the long runs were nothing but fun. "Some people thought we were training strangely," Dean recalls. "But Jack and I had a little joke between us; that we were on the cutting edge of reality. Little did they know!

After high school and a state championship, Dean and Jack went their separate ways Dean off to Central Connecticut State University while Jack headed west to Wesleyan, in Ohio.

By 1972, both were back in Bethel. Jack had already run several ultras, but Dean had slipped away from running for a bit. But when Frank Shorter won the gold in Munich in '72, Dean became re-inspired. So much so in fact, that with only four weeks training, Dean completed 25 miles of a 50 mile race that he and Jack put on in Bethel in the winter of 1972. A few months later, Dean ran a 2:49 at the Yonkers, NY marathon. "After Yonkers, I knew I could run an ultra", Dean recalls. Jack had been running high mileage for many years and with Deanís new enthusiasm for running ultras, a new chemistry was forming between them.

On an Autumn day in the fall of 1973, Jack and Dean were running some miles at one of their favorite training spots, the 7.6 mile loop that encircles Lake Waramaug, in New Preston, CT. Mostly flat, with a few gentle slopes and little traffic, Waramaug was (and still is) a great place to train. On that fall day, Jack and Dean realized they had found the perfect place to hold an Ultra.

Upon finishing their run, they shared their idea for an ultra with Deanís future wife Suzanne, who lived on the lake, and she immediately thought of involving the Inn on Lake Waramaug as a sponsor. The Inn's owner, the late Richard Coombs, embraced the idea and agreed to sponsor the races and the foundation for the first Lake Waramaug Ultra-marathon had been laid. See more Lake Waramaug Ultra history

Special thanks to author Rick Favier and to editor Dave Varnish