HIGHGATE — The Choiniere Family Farm, nestled in the heart of Highgate farming country, has been home to an organic dairy farm for generations.
This fall, the Choiniere’s added another highlight to their farm--a 5K and two-mile running, nordic skiing, and biking course.
The course winds its way through open fields and sugar woods, providing runners with abundant views and beautiful scenery.
On Monday, Oct. 26, the farm hosted its first high school cross country race with runners from Richford and MVU.
Runners got their start on a flat, grassy section that was once a cattle lane. After leaving the lane, runners ascended and descended through the woods and fields, gaining roughly 250 of elevation over the course.
Winners of both the boys’ and girls’ categories, Ruth Brueckner and John Viens, will be recorded on a plaque at the farm in honor of holding the course records.
Guy and Beth Choiniere and their son Matthieu are the masterminds behind the course.
The family has worked to craft a course that will provide runners with a fun and beautiful outdoor experience.
The family did most of the work, but the Richford cross country team members came to help.
“The Richford team did a lot of work with us after practice this weekend,” said Beth.
The inspiration for the course grew from the couple’s devotion to one another.
“I love doing things for Beth. She likes to walk the dogs, and it’s always more fun to walk a loop,” said Guy. “This loop gives her a full hour’s workout.”
The Choiniere’s added culverts, wood chips, and stones to complete the course, and now that it’s done, they are ready to share it with the community.
“When we purchased the Noel property, we always said this was too beautiful for one family. We knew we wanted to open it up for others to enjoy,” said Beth.
“We envisioned having events here; it’s our favorite place on the farm.”
Monday’s race was the first step in a journey the Choiniere’s hope to extend to many others.
“We think this is going to be another spot where community events can happen, and what better way to begin that then to get the school kids out for a race,” said Guy.
The Choiniere’s hope to host organized events on a weekly basis in the near future.
“We would like to host fun runs, snowshoe outings, and that sort of thing,” said Beth. “Everyone is ready to get out and have some fun.”
Monday’s racers enjoyed the course, in spite of the cold, damp weather that continued throughout the event.
“It was a cool course. It was very interesting and a lot different than what we normally run,” said MVU athlete Caleb Ploof.
“There’s a lot of variation in the terrain, which makes it a little less monotonous than other courses,” said Nick Kutchukian, also of MVU.
“It was a fun course, and it actually felt shorter than it was,” said MVU’s Nate Peters.
“I like the course; we run here for practice, so we’ve run some parts of the course in the past,” said Hailey Stefaniak of MVU.
The Choiniere’s were eager for the feedback and hope to see the venue used for cross country races next year.
Matthieu ran cross country for MVU in high school, Guy went to school with the Brueckners, and Beth was on the BFA Nordic team coached by Mike Mashtere, who remains the coach of that team as well as the cross country and track and field teams.
“It’s nice to bring these people that we know back into our circle,” said Guy, “and to possibly contribute to what they’re doing now.”