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Kim Levinsky: Building an inclusive community via Sassquad Trail Running

Kim Levinsky is a kind human, strong runner and race director of Sassquad Trail Running

By Henry Howard


In Women’s History Month, I am featuring Kim Levinsky of Sassquad Trail Running in my special series highlighting race directors this year. She is an amazing human, runner and race director who opened up about mental health in this post from last year.


Every month during 2024, I will highlight one North American race director who specializes in trail and ultra events as a way to highlight what makes this sport great. That is the people, the community and the events themselves. (In January, I featured Michele Hartwig of Ornery Mule Racing and last month I highlighted Scott Kummer of Ten Junk Miles.)


If you have nominations for other race directors to highlight, feel free to contact me with your suggestions.


Kim Levinsky: Sassquad Trail Running Race Director

Kim Levinsky, race director of Sassquad Trail Running

Question: Why did you get into race directing?


Answer: I wanted to help grow the trail running and hiking community in the Northeast by providing a safe space for all people, paces and ages. We work hard to welcome everyone to our events and we love when families come out to join us. We wanted to create a space where newbies could come try out the trails, meet other folks and have fun. By creating events that have generous cutoff times, folks who might be intimidated by the race scene can come and enjoy the day on the trails without the worry of an aggressive cutoff.


Question: How did you get your start as an race director?


Answer: After being involved with the New Jersey trail community for a number of years, I shared the race-directing idea with my friends. They encouraged me to go for it and to start by putting on a "fat-ass" event (no fees, no swag, no whining). We had over 100 people sign up for that first event and the rest is history.


Question: What's the most interesting thing you've learned about yourself since you became a race director?


Answer: Standing at the finish line for our 100-miler and getting to hug our finishers and see them choose a buckle is an incredibly moving experience. I found it to be just as exciting, meaningful and transformative as personally completing a 100-miler.

Kim Levinsky has created Sassquad Trail Running, which has races for all skill levels.

Question: What's your best piece of advice for someone who wants to become a race director?

Answer: You'll never buy the correct amount of bananas.


Question: What's your favorite race to direct?


Answer: Our Squatchung Surprise event in July. It's such an exciting race to organize and then watch all of the action unfold! There are four different trail loops and a bucket of golf balls that match the color of each loop. Before each loop, you'll reach into the bucket and pull out a golf ball to determine which loop you will run. Along with the four colored golf balls that correspond to the four different loops, there will also be a black golf ball. The black golf ball means "runner's choice.” The runner gets to choose whichever loop they want to complete. Everyone runs/hikes a different course and at the end of the event, it's really exciting to tally up all of the miles!


Question: What's your favorite race to run?


Answer: Tahoe 200 was a transformative experience for me. Covering that distance on foot with the support of my crew was life-changing and led me to take on the 358-mile New York Long Path FKT this past July. These ultra-ultras have allowed me to experience human-connection in a way that I never have before; I have seen the best side of humanity through these experiences and have tapped into an inner-strength that I didn't know I had inside of me.


Question: Tell me about a funny experience as an RD and what you learned from it.


Answer: At our 100-miler this year, one of our aid station captains volunteered to pace a runner who was chasing the final 36-hour cutoff (side note: this was during Tropical Storm Ophelia and it monsooned for all 36 hours). Before he went out to pace, the other volunteers at the aid station snuck a bottle of maple syrup and an extra large container of Adobo seasoning in his pack. When he got back from pacing, he opened up his pack and found the syrup and Adobo. We were all rolling laughing at this friendly prank!

Kim Levinsky set the FKT on the 358-mile New York Long Path in July 2023.

 Question: If a runner can only do one of your races ever, it would be … :


Answer: We've got an event for everyone — short 5Ks up to a 100-miler — and events on some of the toughest mountain trails in New York and races at local municipal parks. All things considered, I would recommend our Wild Goose Trail Festival in September because we have so many distance options with super generous cutoff times. It's in a really gorgeous area of northern New Jersey and since the whole event lasts 36 hours, we have a rockin' aid station and a true festival feel at the trail party.


Question: What exciting project do you have in the works?


Answer: An exciting project that we are working on is creating Trail Party Guides for each of our events. We have a pretty comprehensive handbook for our 100-miler that has been a huge help for folks who sign up for that event. We're going to do this for each of our trail parties to help runners/hikers/crew with their planning.


Question: Where can runners find out more about your races?




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