It was so cool to stand together and sing with a bunch of runners, and to see how closely knit the Shirley/Ayer community is. Some of Mr. Hill’s family were there, with their arms around each other, singing their hearts out and, even though I never knew Mr. Hill, I did get a bit teared-up at all the emotion. I think every race should start with a hearty sing-along!

Slow and Steady(ish) blog, Read the full review here


I ran the Holdenwood Trail Run in Shirley, MA yesterday. I did WAY better than I expected to do, and had so much fun running and racing and meeting people and drinking beer.

- FaustusRedux via reddit


I'm 53 and have been running all of my adult life. I've run on roads and trails and  I wanted to compliment you and your volunteers on a great race and wonderful course. I hope to add it to my list of annual runs. Thanks for a wonderful experience


- David T.


As a participant in your race, I must say I was very impressed with the beauty of your trails and the general ambiance and historic nature of the village green and the area in general.  Thanks for all the work you and your committee did to present this event.

- Skip C.


What a fun day on a true cross country course with great volunteers!


- Carly H.


Beautiful course and VERY well organized! Also loved the shirts! I'll be back again for next year's race! Thanks for all of your hard work! :)

- Erica S.


Thanks again to everyone for a wonderful event.  I definitely want to run next year but I would like to volunteer to help too, so please put me on the list for next year. I think I am going to sign my kids up for the 2K next year too.

- Laura M. 


We had a great morning at the run! We will definitely run again next year

- Mary B.


I truly enjoyed the race and finished it in good time.

- Prasad T.


I enjoyed the race and definitely plan on doing it again next year and will try to bring some friends. 

- Steve P.


Thanks for coordinating such a great "town" event!!!

- Kim C.


This was our first time and we loved it! would definitely do it again. Overall a wonderful experience!  Well done!

- Kelly R.


I enjoyed the run and overall feel of the event. It was well organized, and your are cognizant of concerns that people may have such as number of participants and the impact that it could have on the community feel of the run. The website and online registration made it easy for people to register ahead of the event. For people like me, race day registration was painless. You honored your start time, the trail was in great shape, and you had volunteers throughout to guide participants. I thought having the start area in sections for different paces was a good idea, although more room at the finish line area would reduce congestion in that area. Finally, I thought your presentations after the races was within a reasonable amount of time of the finish.

Thanks again for reaching out before the race. I'm glad I participated.

- Dan S.


Thank you all so much for the time and effort that you put into this year’s run.  To all of us on the ‘other side’ the event was flawless and clearly benefitted from your time and talents!  We are all so grateful!  Thank you for agreeing to keep at it next year.  If there is anything that we can be doing to help you please let us know. 

Maureen K - President of Ayer Shirley Education Foundation


2013 was my first time running the Holdenwood trail run, and I must say, you and your volunteers did a fantastic job with the race - I was impressed with the balance of organization (the trail was well marked!) and family feel. It is a beautiful location for a race and I will be sure to tell others about it for next year- my wife and boys will love it! Congrats on a great race and I was pleased to be able to contribute to such a worthy cause.

- Jim S

Franklin, MA


Thanks Jason!  I had a wonderful time. Beautiful weather and beautiful scenery.  Thank the Holden family for me, for their generosity. That was my first trail run - very challenging!  I'm very tired. :) See you next year!

- Laura M

Shirley, MA


From previous years:

The SEF 5k trail run through Holdenwood is a rare treat in the world of trail runs.  Many of these typically wind their way through fairly nondescript wooded trails.  Not so with this event.  There is a good mix of field stone lined meadows, wooded trails and several interesting  features along the way, including the Stone Crossing, that make this event unique given its idyllic setting.  The condition of the trails on race days are superb as the crew clearly prepared them in painstaking manner.  Further, for those seeking a run to really challenge themselves this one does not disappoint with its rolling terrain and several steep sections.  All in all one of the best events I have participated in.

- Dan Boudreau


I have enjoyed running in many sprint and long distance races and trail runs in New England over the years, but thre is no race that I look forward to running every fall than the SEF 5K trail run in Holdenwoods  in Shirley.  the course is gorgeous, well maintained, and challenging.  the race staff is friendly and experienced and they create a great event for the whole family to enjoy.  Whether you are trying to set a PR or just want to get out in the woods on a typically beautiful autumn day for some exercise, you don't want to miss this one!

- Jason Rakip


I have run trail races on both the East and West coast and the Shirley trail run is by far one the most beautiful and well maintained courses I have run.  This race truly captures the magic of fall in New England and is a great community event.  I recommend this race to every trail runner around!

- John Burpo


My name is Jim Ryan and I'm the cross country coach at Ayer Shirley Regional high school. I ran the Holdenwood Trail Run last year and thought it was a fantastic race. I've been pushing it with the runners on our team to register for this year as a fun run and great practice. We’ll be there on Sunday and are excited to participate again.

- Jim Ryan


...The Holdenwood Trail Run in Shirley, MA — is not a road race but a trail run. Now, trail runs are a whole different thing. People wear special trail shoes for them, and everything. I’ve only done one before. But I’d heard that this one was fairly accessible. The trails are specially groomed. It’s a low-key community event and a fundraiser for the local schools.....

- Anne Shull