By Jesse Mast

Holiday Valley Resort is getting ready to host yet another exciting day of racing. The EVL-9 Train Run offers more than nine miles of challenging trails for a true test of athletic stamina.

The action takes place Aug. 4 at the Holiday Valley Mountain Sports Center. Athletes from several surrounding states and Canada are expected to rush into Ellicottville to take advantage of the area’s quality trails.

Event organizer Mark Lawrence said the race has enjoyed quite a bit of popularity in the several years it has been held.

“It grows every year,” he said.

The race’s appeal is also very widespread. In the past, runners have come from throughout Western New York, as well as Ontario and distant states such as Kentucky, Michigan and even Colorado.

Formerly known as the annual Ellicottville Ultra Trail Runs, the EVL-9 Trail Run has added course sections, creating a different but equal challenge for runners who have experience with the old course.

This isn’t the first time the course has been changed. According to Lawrence, the course was for a time shortened to 8 miles, but then lengthened to its previous 9.8 miles, and it has stayed this way ever since. Lawrence said the name is an apt description of this tough course: “evil.”

“It’s a very unique race,” said Lawrence, and “very, very demanding.” The course features quick changes in terrain, which is attractive to experienced runners.

For that matter, the EVL 9 is not an entry-level race, though Lawrence said it may be a good event for families to participate in together.

Beginning and ending at the Holiday Valley Mountain Sports Center, runners brave enough to tackle the 9-mile run will encounter hills, gravel, roots and manicured singletrack over more than 1,200 feet of elevation changes through Holiday Valley trails and state lands. This may not be a task for the fainthearted, but it could be enough for enthusiastic runners to get their kicks.

Athletes who want a challenging course but aren’t up to the strain of 9 miles may opt for the EVL 4, a similar trail to the EVL 9 but only half as long. This course follows the EVL 9 for about two miles before breaking off.

Starting time for the EVL 9 is 9:30 a.m., followed by the EVL 4  at 10 a.m.

Awards will given three deep in Male, Female and Masters divisions.

Following the race, runners will enjoy lunch and door prizes. Lawrence said about 50 door prizes will given out. Participants will have a chance to win various enticing prizes, including Timex GPS watches, sneakers and other sports gear.

Registration fees are $35 for the EVL 9 , and $25 for the EVL 4. Preregistration is open until July 29, after which $5 will be added to the fee. Registration forms may be obtained at Proceeds from the event will benefit HEART Animal Shelters.

The field limit for the event is 300, but entrants may register the day of the race if it is not sold out. Race-day registration begins at 8 a.m. at the Holiday Valley Mountain Sports Center. Those interested in participating are encouraged to visit