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Runners Conquer the Trails and Heat to Support The Watershed Institute  

by Community Contributor

The 8th Annual Solstice Trail Run, hosted by The Watershed Institute, saw runners of all levels come together on Thursday, June 20 for an unforgettable day of outdoor adventure and camaraderie. The event, held at The Watershed Institute’s scenic 950-acre reserve, raised about $30,000 to support the Watershed’s vital conservation and education initiatives.  

“Together, we are making a tangible difference in environmental conservation, advocacy, science and education.” said Watershed Executive Director Jim Waltman. “I want to thank all the runners who came out despite the heat.  I also appreciate the many donors who gave an additional gift to support The Watershed Institute.” 

This year, the Watershed awarded the first annual Isabella de la Houssaye Award to the top female finisher in the 10K race Lucy Herring. The award will be given every year to honor Isabella’s extraordinary life. Isabella served on the Watershed’s Trail Run Committee from 2016-2023, providing insight and advice to the Watershed staff and volunteers on how to organize a successful running event. She ran the event each year and recruited her family and friends to join her Team Bella. Isabella passed away in December of 2023, after a battle with cancer. 

According to her husband, David Crane, “The only fundraising race she ever actively helped organize was the Watershed’s annual Solstice Run. She loved the event, not only because she believed passionately in the Watershed’s mission and its contribution to land and habitat preservation and education in our area, but because it was the first race she participated in (successfully) after beginning treatment in the early spring of 2018.” 

As the sun set on race day, about 214 participants showcased their endurance and determination, tackling the challenging 5K, 10K, and 15K trails. The event embodied the spirit of athleticism and love for nature, inspiring runners to push their limits and celebrate their accomplishments.

After crossing the finish line, runners and supporters alike gathered under the tent to celebrate their achievements. The post-race party provided a well-deserved opportunity to relax and revel in the shared experiences of the day and enjoy music from our DJ. Quenching their thirst, participants had the chance to savor the delicious beverages of our beer sponsor, Old Hights Brewing Company of Hightstown. Additionally, pizza was available for purchase from Antimo’s Italian Kitchen of Hopewell, ensuring everyone left with satisfied appetites. 

Medals were awarded to the first, second, and third place finishers in a host of categories honoring their dedication, skill, and perseverance. The fastest female and male runners in the 15K race were Gisele Calderon of Princeton and Brandon Sloboda of Fort Collins, CO.  Winners in the 10K race were Lucy Herring of Princeton and Aaron Totten Lancaster of Frenchtown. Winners in the 5K race were Meghan Bruce of Princeton and Derway Lin of Belle Mead.  Medals were also given out to the first, second, and third place winners in each category.

The Watershed expressed that success of the Solstice Trail Run would not have been possible without the support of our participants, sponsors, volunteers, and community partners. The Watershed Institute extends its deepest gratitude to everyone who contributed their time, energy, and resources to make this event a resounding success. Sponsors included Bloomberg, Fleet Feet, Old Hights Brewing Company, Stellitano Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc, NRG, Bristol Myers Squibb, and PSE&G. 

The Watershed Institute is dedicated to keeping Central New Jersey’s water clean, safe and healthy. Founded in 1949, The Watershed Institute protects and restores water and the environment through conservation, advocacy, science and education. For more information about the Watershed, www.thewatershed.org or call (609) 737-3735.  

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