Meet Michael Lo Presti
Please welcome the sixteenth American Trail Running Association (ATRA) Trail Ambassador presented by CamelBak, and fourth in 2018. Meet 46-year-old Michael Lo Presti, whose love of trail running led him to found CT Trailmixers. He’s a married father of two daughters, a volunteer running guide with Achilles International, and hopes to run an ultra in every state.
Lo Presti hails from Huntington, Long Island, New York, and has lived in Plantsville, CT, for the past 21 years. In his professional life, he is a communications director for Cigna, a post he’s held for 17 years. He started trail running about 15 years ago.
“I had run eight or nine road marathons, and started searching around for bigger challenges,” said Lo Presti. “I stumbled upon the world of ultramarathons, and ran my first one – a 50k road ultra – in Rhode Island. I was hooked and ready to run another.
“The more I researched, the more I found that lots of ultras take place on the trails,” continued Lo Presti. “So, I started mixing in some trail running on the weekends with my road running, and haven’t looked back. I find I can hit my ‘flow’ more easily in the woods, dodging rocks and roots, moving through nature. It’s a different kind of high than road running. Both are wonderful, but I reach deeper into myself, and into the wide world around me, on the trails.”
Lo Presti founded CT Trailmixers, in November 2014, with a few friends. “Our goal was simple,” said Lo Presti. “Form a Facebook group to better organize our weekend trail runs, as we were all spending more time on the trails and it’s cumbersome coordinating events just via texting. From there, things blossomed quickly, as our Facebook group participation surged.
“As we grew, we decided to brand ourselves with a few key attributes and activities,” continued Lo Presti. “Weekly group runs around the state, periodic Introduction to Trail Running events, book talks, dinner and movie nights, two annual races (the Spring Fling 600 ultra in May and the Fall Fling 400 ultra in November), an annual Green Friday trail run held on Black Friday after Thanksgiving (because being in the woods is much more fun than waiting in line at the mall), and lots of tasty food and baked goods after our group runs. We also spend a lot of time on the Appalachian Trail, as 52 miles of it run through our state. We do an annual run of the entire section in a day, run smaller sections throughout the year, and organize trail magic volunteer events during the summer to help the thru-hikers and section hikers.
“But, most importantly,” said Lo Presti. “We chose to focus on the people of Connecticut who run trails, featuring member interviews, ‘Meet Your Mixers,’ on our Facebook page, cheering each other on during races, and bringing people together both virtually and in person. As a result, I think we’ve bolstered and strengthened the trail running community that had already existed in the state. And we have great partnerships with other local trail running clubs as well, hosting joint events and sharing our love of the trails together.”
The club has been able to donate proceeds from their races to several local charities, including the Connecticut Forest & Parks Association (CFPA) which maintains the 800+ miles of blue-blazed trails in the state where they so often run. They have built a strong partnership with the Southington (CT) YMCA, as their two races are held on the trails at YMCA Camp Sloper. Additionally, the club has started a Shoe Scholarship Program in partnership with Fleet Feet in West Hartford (CT), through which they help pay for running shoes for students who otherwise might not be able to afford them for cross country or track.
It’s clear that giving back to the sport is something Lo Presti values. “I’ve volunteered at both road and trail races throughout my running career, primarily through staffing aid stations, serving as a course monitor, or serving as a pace leader,” said Lo Presti. “I’m the race director for our club’s two races, and I also run as a guide with Achilles International, a non-profit organization that pairs volunteer guides with athletes of different abilities who need support while participating in races.”
He prescribes to the motto…live urgently. “Trail running has sharpened my vision around this motto, and has taught me how to savor every step of every run no matter what the conditions or how hard it hurts…because someday it will end, and I will miss it,” said Lo Presti.
For more on Lo Presti’s story, click HERE.