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Great scenery, great food at The Herring Run

New Brunswick’s premiere trail event returns Aug. 13

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
Aug. 10, 2017

MASCARENE, N.B. – You won’t find this run listed on any calendars of upcoming events, and you won’t find posters for it where you buy your running gear.
In fact, Bryan Gagner did not do any advertising at all for The Herring Run this year, but it sold out anyway, months in advance.

The fifth annual Herring Run will take place in Mascarene, N.B. on Sunday, Aug. 13. Shown here is one of the initial photos race director Bryan Gagner used to promote the event.

Photo courtesy of Bryan Gagner

“For the first year we did a lot of advertising, and even the second year we put up posters,” said Gagner, who puts on the event through his Hackmatack Trail Racing company. “I’m a photographer, so I took some nice pictures and sent them off to Trail Running Magazine, where they were featured. I think when people see compelling pictures on a poster, they basically want to go there.”
That seems to be the case with The Herring Run, which will be held for its fifth year on Sunday, Aug. 13 at the Gagner home in Mascarene, N.B. The event features 10K and 20K trail races, as well as a half-mile kids’ race.
Having participated in many trail runs in the United States, the American-born Gagner decided to start The Herring Run when he noticed no other trail runs were happening around New Brunswick.
His wife had started making trails through the woods near their home, where there were some existing ATV trails. Gagner then constructed some single-track trails to connect them all, having received permission from the landowners.
The captivating coastline on Passamaquoddy Bay was his inspiration.
“The reason I run is for the scenery, so I don’t do it so much to challenge myself,” he said. “It’s fun to keep in shape, and it’s fun to do, but I always design my runs for the runners. A lot of people design races for spectators, but I try to do it for the runners, and try to make it as scenic as possible.”
Participants receive more than exercise and beautiful scenery at The Herring Run. They also go home with bellies full of healthy, local food, an important priority for Gagner.
Included on the menu are such treats as scones from the local bakery, baguettes made from organic-wood fired bread by another local person, sausages made from grass-fed beef, chicken and turkey provided by a local butcher, as well as energy bars and other products made from ingredients ordered from the Speerville Flour Mill.
There are a couple other organic farms where Gagner orders produce and meats from, and did we mention smoked salmon?
“Instead of giving people a bag of doughnuts and some shampoo, I give them a nice racer kit with local stuff, and real good food afterwards,” he said. “We want to promote that whole healthy lifestyle thing.”
The food has become so good, that it’s become an attraction in itself, even for non-runners.
“I think next year we’ll have to come up with a better plan for extras to eat,” said Gagner.
As for next year, he is considering a return to advertising the event, although the numbers themselves might not warrant it. Capped at 115 participants, The Herring Run remains a sure sellout.
But Gagner would like to see more local participation.
“I think next year I may put some posters out, just in St. George and St. Stephen, to get some more local folks,” he said. “It’s mostly Saint John-area folks now. There are some locals around, but it sells out so far in advance.”
For more on The Herring Run, visit here .