Archive for the 'Biographical' Category

2014 Hop Brook Dam MTB Race

I made yesterday’s Hop Brook Dam MTB Race muddier than it should have been. My muddy-faced Facebook photo even drew comments (through my Dad) from my Mom. She thinks I’m nuts. At least she didn’t have to do my post-race laundry like the old days.

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Hop Brook was the first Root 66 Race Series event of the year. It was a blast, but it was hard. Four laps of the five-mile course was a rude awakening for my legs after a long winter. It was on the fateful second lap that I poorly judged a sharp left hand turn on the upper part of the course, launched over my handlebars, and plowed left arm/head first into the deepest mud puddle on the course. It would have made for an awesome video. Alas, I was the only one who saw it. A few other riders saw me covered head to toe in muck, and a few spectators noticed the aftermath, but the actual fall was witnessed by no one else.

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For the most part, the course was dry. I don’t ride on muddy trails. It just isn’t right. This course had a few wet spots, including the one I mentioned. Hop Brook is rugged and has a fair amount of up and down. I rode my Seven Sola SL singlespeed. The belt drive was perfect for the course and conditions, though on laps three and four, I walked more than I would have liked. Thankfully, my in-law’s (the Schieffer’s) live 10 minutes from the Middlebury course, so I was able to get to a shower and hose shortly after finishing.

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Chris and Jill Logan do a great job with Root 66 and the series looks bigger and better than ever. I’ll race again in two weeks at Winding Trails, and then maybe once more later in the year. I would do more of these, but with trail running and triathlon to juggle, you can only fit so much in the schedule. I saw a lot of friends yesterday and pretty much everyone  looked to be enjoying themselves. It was a bit chilly in the morning, but by early afternoon, the sun warmed up the air and it turned out to be a beautiful early spring day.

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My teammate, Arthur Roti, brought his family to the race. The kids did the Easter Egg Hunt and then raced on their own. Art got to test his legs and his Seven, just like me. Hop Brook Lake has become one of my favorite venues. I was last there for the cyclocross race back in November. I’ve been there twice/year for the past few years between CX and MTBing. It was good to string together a few workouts this past weekend. On Saturday, I got to run 1.5 laps of the Traprock 50K course with Debbie and our friend, Cheryl Jackson. We had fun on the trails. Two days in a row was twice as nice.

Race Results

2014 Bimbler’s Bash

Today, we returned to the Bimbler’s Bash for the first time since 2011. We also ran the race in 2009 and Debbie ran it solo in 2010. This year, the 7 +/- mile Bash was the first race in the inaugural Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series.

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The course is a rugged loop through Westwoods in Guilford.  All proceeds from the event are donated to the Guilford Land Conservation Trust. Debbie, David Merkt, and I represented the Shenipsit Striders. I know there were other Striders in the crowd. The Bash is one of the largest trail running races around.

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We had brilliant sunshine, though it was still cold. The temperature was 39 degrees Fahrenheit when we started. It warmed up a bit more by the finish. With all of the recent snow/rain, the course was quite wet and muddy. That likely slowed the times a bit. There was a lot of ground cover (leaves, twigs, etc.) but no larger branches. This race is known for rocks, which it has plenty of.

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Thanks to the son of a friend of a friend, we had on-site childcare. Both Debbie and I got to run. This is our version of a “hot date.” We didn’t get to spend much time on the trail together, but we each got a chance to enjoy the woods. We saw many other running friends today.

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The Bimbler’s Sound running club, led by Race Director Jerry Turk, did a fine job with the course. I remembered a lot of volunteers from past years. Neither Debbie or I are up to speed yet, but we both enjoyed the hard effort. I ran in a group of three for much of the race, then it was a group of two. Then, I was dropped and was in a group of one. I was stronger on the ups and weaker on the downs.

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David had a strong run for 5th place. He and I were both rewarded with the traditional Bimbler’s chocolate bunnies. I was a candidate for the “Best Blood” competition, but I opted not to enter because it wasn’t “liquid” enough. Jerry prefers real gore and my injury was minor compared to some of the others I saw. I didn’t even fall. I was taking a sharp left and didn’t negotiate the corner in time. There was a sharp stick jutting out and I caught it with my back, which is pretty scraped up. Ouch! Still, it hurt so good.

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With 1/2 mile to go, it was great to hear the “piper” again. I love that sound calling you back to the finish line. Debbie and I had a piper at our wedding in 2001. Every wedding and every race should have a piper! Congratulations to race winners, Todd Bennett and Darcy Lucas; plus all of the age group winners. More than 200 people finished the race.

Brunch was once again, at the Shoreline Diner & Vegetarian Enclave. We enjoyed the meal like we always do.

Several of my Team Horst Sports mates were racing elsewhere this weekend. I missed the Tour of the Battenkill again this year. I’m not in that kind of cycling shape. Maybe 2015.

Next up in the Series: Traprock 50K. From talking to Debbie, I know that folks are already registering for the 30th anniversary Soapstone Mountain Trail Race. Hopefully we see a lot of Bash finishers coming north (we came south) to double the distance and run our 24 kilometer classic.

Race Results

Pittsfield, Vermont

Last weekend, Debbie and I had the opportunity to spend some time in the south-central Vermont town of Pittsfield. The kind folks at Perfect Vermont and the Amee Farm Lodge invited Debbie to experience Pittsfield as part of a group. The invitees were fellow yoga instructors and travel industry bloggers.

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We already knew Pittsfield from prior Vermont trips, but it was great to revisit the town and get to know it a whole lot better. The small town has seen much investment during the past 10 years. It all started at the Riverside Farm, a sister property to the Amee Farm, that is also owned by Joe and Courtney Desena.

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The Desena’s and their various partners have been a driving force behind the growth of Pittsfield as a destination for outdoor activity. The activity has gone global through other Desena venture, including Peak Races and the Spartan Race, but it all started back in 2007 at the inaugural Pittsfield Peaks Ultra Challenge and Death Race.

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Debbie ran that first Peak ultra. It was 55 miles +/- and rugged. I crewed for her with our nine month old son. It was a grand adventure. The little town of Pittsfield left an impression on us. Debbie returned to run Pittsfield again in 2008, but other than passing through on various Vermont trips, we hadn’t spent any time in town until this past weekend.

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Our experience last weekend proves that they have some good stuff happening. In addition to the wedding business and races, they are looking to maximize utilization at the various properties. A tight-knit network of entrepreneurs, spurred by Desena’s own entrepreneurial spirit, have banded together to create something bigger.

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Various businesses have cropped up to make Pittsfield a more central destination for outdoor oriented visitors. We toured the various properties, experiencing the wonderful vision that has transformed old farms and barns into interesting venues. The architecture and interior decoration are wonderful. The venues would be excellent for yoga retreats, business meetings, and other events.  The Green Mountains setting makes the location special. There are trails right out the front door of both Riverside and Amee.

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On Saturday night, we shared a dinner with the group on the first floor of the Amee Farm Lodge. The fabulous dinner was catered by Vermont Farms Catering, the same team that operates the food services at the Vermonts Original General Store. We were entertained by a guitarist and a trumpeter.

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On Sunday morning, Debbie and I ran a 10 mile loop on roads and dirt roads. Most of the uphill came on South Hill Road. Then we returned to the lodge, grabbed our snowshoes, ran back through town. From there, we wandered through the woods and trails behind the Riverside Farm. You could get lost back there (and we did). Our run was in steady cold rain, though once we got above 1,500 feet on the north side of the mountain we were climbing, the rain turned to snow and sleet. The road was icy, but it was beautiful.

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In the woods, the snow was still very deep, but it was like mashed potatoes. We had our running snowshoes and they weren’t very good for the conditions. We needed our longer/wider backcountry shoes, but we still scrambled about looking for the famous “Shrek’s Cabin” which we never found. Many of the trails are part of a network known as Green Mountain Trails. It seems like the organizers are taking a page from Kingdom Trails in order to attract mountain bikers, trail runners, hikers and other outdoors people.

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After our run/hike, we got a tour of Sweet Georgia P’s, an organic farm operating out of the Amee Farm. The family operation is across the street from the Amee Farm Lodge. The family running the show moved to Pittsfield in 2013 to take over the operation. They have chickens, goats, and lots of vegetables. We really enjoyed talking to the farmers and sharing their passion for good food and sustainable agriculture. It made us want to be farmers. We weren’t even dissuaded by all of the mud!

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We stopped at the General Store for lunch before leaving town. It took us just under three hours to get home and longer to dry out our gear. We love Vermont and Pittsfield is as nice a community as any. For us, access to trails is the key. It looks like we are going to be back there this summer. Debbie was inspired to alter her pre-Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance 100 game-plan to include the 50+ mile version of the 2014 Peak Ultra.

 

 

2014 Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series

I’ll be writing much more about this during 2014, but the inaugural edition of the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series is officially launched. There will also be more marketing, including a dedicated Facebook page.

Debbie, the Shenipsit Striders, the series Race Directors, the CFPA team, and I; have all been involved with the creation of this new series. We view this series as a compliment to the venerable New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series, and three of the races (Soapstone Mountain Trail Race, People’s Forest Trail Race, and NipMuck Trail Marathon) are in both series. NipMuck is the oldest Grand Tree race. 2014 will mark it’s 31st year. Soapstone, another Shenipsit Striders event (Debbie is RD), will be 30 this year!

The series kicks off in two weeks with the Bimbler’s Bash. See you there! Click here for the series page.

While I’m promoting 2014 series, if you are local, be sure to also check out our hometown cross-country series, the Bolton Summer XC Series. It’s run on a rugged and beautiful course that is fun for all ages. There is a 50 yard dash for the toddlers, a 1 mile race for the kids, and the 2.6 mile main event for kids and adults.

2014 Stone Age Rock Gym

This afternoon, we had a short, but fun trip to Stone Age Rock Gym. I was compelled to put together a quick blurb because it was a great experience. We were supposed to go to public skate at Bolton Ice Palace, but they had a group book the entire session.

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The family was bumming, so we rallied and headed to the gym in neighboring Manchester. Debbie and I watched and spotted while the kids scrambled all over the place. Jennifer was on duty and she was fantastic. She outfit both kids with climbing shoes (tiny ones!) and chalk bags. They were outfitted like rockstar climbers.

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We practically had the place to ourselves. There was one other couple there. It was an old running friend, Steve Henry, and his friend, Jill. They were roped up and enjoying themselves. It was also fun to watch one other “gym rat” attempt some more advanced moves.

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Debbie and I aren’t big climbers. She is more advanced, having done an outdoor educator course with NOLS back in 2001. She spent a month in the Arizona wilderness with the trip split between backpacking and rock climbing. I did some in the Boy Scouts and also in R.O.T.C., but haven’t done much since.

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The kids didn’t rope up. They just did “bouldering,” which itself was a blast. Stone Age has a strong connection with the Ragged Mountain Foundation. We have been long time Ragged members, mainly in support of their conservation efforts, particularly with Connecticut’s traprock ridges.

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The staff really was great with the kids and we are sure to return, maybe for a birthday party or Cub Scout den meeting. I might even give it a go myself. I know Debbie wants to get back into climbing. Last month, she went with a friend to another local gym and she has been working on her pull-ups. I don’t think she is going to give up running, but if we have another winter like this, then Stone Age seems like the perfect place to pass some time.

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Sabino Canyon Recreation Area & Tucson

Every time I pass through Tucson, Arizona, I appreciate the city more and more. It is a true Mecca for outdoor sports enthusiasts. The climate is fantastic and the trails are spectacular. I had a little time before my flight home on Friday morning, so I was able to steal away for a little trail run.

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I started at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area and took a series of trails to Cathedral Rock and back. It was a 15 mile round trip in a about three hours and 30 minutes. The weather was perfect. It was actually a little cool when I started, but the sun was warm. My original plan was to run in the eastern sector of Saguaro National Park, where I’ve never been, but I took the advice of a friend and tried Sabino instead.

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It was a great choice. Once I got off the access road and away from the morning walkers, I was on my own. I saw a few people on my way back down, but I had the trails to myself. I crossed through Bird Canyon and climbed more than 4,000 feet. I would have kept going, but I had a flight to catch so I turned back just before Cathedral Rock. The top was in sight, but I didn’t want to push my luck.

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This was my longest workout in a long time, so my legs were feeling it by the time I returned to the parking lot. I  didn’t realize that I had a long delay-filled trip ahead of me, so it was smart for me to get outside and move my body after last Thursday’s six-hour drive back from Guaymas.

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I’m looking forward to a future trip when Debbie joins me to run on some of Tucson’s glorious trails. There is so much more to see.

Guaymas & San Carlos, Sonora

Earlier this week, I had a short trip to Horst Engineering de Mexico in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico. It’s actually a long trip, but it was packed into a short amount of time. I left last Sunday afternoon and I returned early Saturday morning. There is no easy way to get to Guaymas. I flew to Tucson via Atlanta, spent one night there, and then drove to the plant. My return trip brought me back to Tucson for a night and then a flight home via Minneapolis.

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It’s six hours of driving from southern Tucson on a good day. Thankfully, we had easy drives both to Guaymas and back. The line at the border during our return trip, was very short, which is what we hope for. The main road between Nogales and Guaymas is Route 15. It has been under major construction for several years. They are making a divided highway and much progress has been made. Every time I return, there are fewer crossovers and the pavement is getting smoother, which is welcome.

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Business has been much better. Ever since 2010, when the manufacturing economy hit its big slump, we have made steady progress with our operation. We have added several new machines in the past year, and it was great to see them running on new jobs. Our little EDM hole popper was a highlight for me. We have an excellent management team and they are preparing for the growth ahead.

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Since 2008, San Carlos has suffered from a lack of activity. The combination of economic recession and the violence that gripped Mexico was too much for the tourist economy to sustain. I remember trips when I was the only one in a restaurant. It was like that for several years. That is why the uptick in business is noticeable. There was both more business activity and more tourist activity. I saw a lot more “snowbirds” both on the drive (with their RV’s)  and in San Carlos.

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Guaymas itself was buzzing as usual, but is driven much more by the success of the maquiladoras and the growth of Mexican business. Guaymas is a growing port and as better jobs drive a stronger Mexican middle class, the city will continue to grow. My hope is that a wave of environmentalism will eventually sweep through Mexico. There is still way too much waste. Sonora has always struggled with litter and trash, but it seems like it is getting worse, not better. It’s unsightly and bad for the environment.

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There is also little regard for energy savings. With monopolistic utilities, there is little incentive to conserve electricity and other critical resources. This coupled with a still lagging infrastructure (e.g. reliable Internet) keeps Sonora a step behind. Even still, it’s a fun place to visit and to witness the impact of economic progress.

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After a long New England winter, it was nice to run at sunrise in shorts and shirtsleeves. I also swam three days in a row in the Sea of Cortez, which is always nice. No Sonoran would swim in the water in March, but I loved it.

2014 Bolton Road Race

Today  the Livingston’s kicked off the 2014 race season at our hometown race. The Bolton Road Race, under the race direction of Dani Kennedy, has seen a nice revival in the past few years. BRR is proof that good marketing and good value can make a big difference for a race. BRR benefits the Bolton High School Boosters Club and the Boys and Girls Track Teams. These “little” races may not draw the fields of larger races with more marketing muscle, but they are more authentic.

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The BRR is one of those rare 5 mile courses that used to be really popular during the running boom of the 1970’s and 1980’s. The 5 miler is nearly extinct with the proliferation of 5K’s. Today, there was no mud, no obstacles, and no electrified wires. BRR does offer a 5K option, but the 5 miler is the main event with the bonus factor of hills and wind.  BRR is a good old road race; it’s you versus the course. That’s just how I like it, and when you can jog over to the start/finish from your house, it’s even better. BRR is a true community race, the way they all used to be. Stock in the promotion company isn’t traded on the NASDAQ and there is no private equity investment to fuel the global growth.

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It’s Dani and her volunteers and in 2014, they raised the bar to yet another level. Dani landed several new sponsors. Full disclosure: Horst Engineering came aboard as one of the sponsors this year. We like to support events that promote healthy living in the communities that we work and live, especially when the proceeds to local causes. BRR has many other sponsors, including: Simoniz, Highland Park Markets, Bolton Physical Therapy, American Ladders & Scaffolds, Bolton Mobil, Bolton Notch Self Storage, Bolton Veterinary Hospital, and Steve Czerwinski, Inc. Another 15 businesses/organizations made contributions.

218 runners finished the 5 miler and 49 finished the 5K.

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My parents, Stan and Lynn, were kind enough to come out and watch our daughter (though I was prepared to push the Chariot CX-1 like old times) while Debbie, our son, and I ran. Our son was joined by his favorite running buddy, Uncle Tom Schieffer. Tom came down from Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, to spend the afternoon with the clan and get in some outdoor exercise. Debbie and I needed a good workout, and everything worked out as planned.

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Unfortunately, my schedule didn’t permit the full experience. The minute I crossed the finish line, I grabbed my pack, donned an extra layer, and ran the two miles straight home. I’m disappointed that I missed hanging out with so many friends. I was scanning the results on my iPhone and saw the names of many people who I haven’t seen since last year.

My timeline for this Sunday afternoon was a little crazy, but was true to the spirit of Life Adventures.

12:10 P.M.
Debbie departs on foot to run up to the high school.

12:20 P.M.
I round-up the kids, get them loaded into Debbie’s car, and drive to the school.

12:30 P.M.
Park, dress, pick up our bib numbers, meet up with parents and Tommy.

12:40 P.M.
Two mile warmup with Debbie. She is a little warmer at this point, which is what an ultrarunner who runs 100 milers needs when running 5 milers.

12:58 P.M.
The race starts, two minutes early by my watch, and I’m still behind 50 runners. Technically, I didn’t miss the start, but I had some traffic to weave through and it cost me five seconds, which means nothing, but feels good to talk about.

1:30 P.M.
I finish, grab my pack, add a layer, take a few photos, and run back home. Tim Cote joined me for the first mile of the route. We chat about making stuff, machining, alloys, his upcoming wedding, 7 Sisters, hills, long winters, Brooklyn, bicycle  commuting, Traprock 50K, work, sailboats, and a bunch of other stuff. It’s amazing how much ground you can cover in one mile.

1:50 P.M.
I get home, download photos, change, shower, mix a bottle of Vega, upload GPS data,  grab half a dark chocolate bar (it had to hold me over until I got to Atlanta), and finish packing.

2:20 P.M.
I was planning a 10 minute transition, but ask any of my triathlete friends, I’ve never been good at transitions. I depart for BDL, drink the Vega and eat the chocolate.

2:50 P.M.
I ride the LAZ (monopolistic parking evil empire) shuttle to the terminal.

3:00 P.M.
I’m berated by TSA officials (along with the other “customers”) even though I know what I’m doing. Yes, I know, nothing in my pockets! I’ve got to look into this TSA Precheck thing. Heck, I just need a G5.

3:12: P.M.
I’m in 29C. Sigh. At least it’s an aisle seat. Howard Schultz is on the cover of the in-flight magazine. I bet he has a G5 or equivalent and probably will never read an in-flight magazine!

3:32 P.M.
Airborne. Headed for ATL and then TUS and then a Monday drive to Guaymas with a colleague. Horst Engineering de Mexico, here we come.

I’ll let you know how my legs feel after a day or two. The .42 ounces of Lightly Salted Peanuts I ate on the first flight should aid my recovery. 12 grams sounds like so much more than .42. Hey, it was only 5 miles. Back in 2008, Debbie and I ran the Six Foot Track Marathon (the rugged trail 28+ miler was also this weekend; that would have been fun), from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves in New South Wales, Australia. We were on a trans-continental flight from Sydney to Los Angeles (with a two-year old) within 15 hours. That was ugly. It took me several months to recover from that foolishness.

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Anyway, I didn’t realize the BRR was a 1:00 P.M. start when I booked my flights. How many races start after lunch? Anyway, I didn’t run as fast as in the past, but I’m getting older. Debbie hates it when I say that. I had a good run last year in 30:08 when I was 5th. Today, I ran 31:22 for 9th. At least I’m still running. I chased Trevor Chambers and Matt Estes for a while before they both gapped me. The elastic band broke just after the 2 mile mark. Matt is coming off a stellar road marathon performance and will be one of the runners to beat at Traprock next month.

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Trevor is a 16-year-old runner on the Bolton High School XC team and is getting faster. He has good pedigree. I often battle on the bike with his dad, Andy, a super strong veteran rider. I hope I’m going as good as Andy in 15 years. With Trevor and Thomas Paquette in front of me, the first Bolton resident division title was out of reach. Debbie had an OK race. She is still in comeback mode, trying different approaches to regain her speed. She was 6th woman and 2nd in her age group. Our son was happy to get second in the under 12 age group in his second 5-miler. Technically, the Manchester Road Race is 4.748, so this was his first real 5-miler.

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Paquette was the first overall finisher in a fast 26:57. He was followed by Brian Nelson and then the aforementioned Tim Cote. First woman was Kelly Labanara in 34:30. Caitlin Cunningham was only one second behind her. That would have been a good finish to watch. Alison Caruso was third. 10-year-old Luke Stoeffler won the 5K in  22:10. He was flying!

There were lots of good results for an early season race. It’s going to be a good year for many. Keep running!

5 Miler Race Results

5K Race Results

Royal Machines: Live at the Mayan Theater

Some of you may have seen my Facebook post on February 26th from the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles, California. I was at the closing social for the YPO Global Leadership Conference. Entering the venue earlier in the evening, I knew that we would be entertained. The actor, Jim Belushi, played an opening set with his blues band.

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Little did I know that the next  band, Royal Machines, slated for a 10:30 P.M. private show,  was going to rock the theater in a big way. I told Debbie that I sensed something cool was going to happen, so we moved from the Belasco Theater next door (they are connected by an alley) and stood right in front of the stage before they came on. That turned out to be a fortuitous decision.

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It turns out that it was their first live show as a band. Nothing beats a loud rock and roll show in a club. I’ve been to a lot of shows over the years, but this 90 minutes of music was spectacular. I wish I had my Leica M9 with me, but I was only carrying my little Leica V-LUX and my iPhone. I was still able to grab some good shots. They just don’t have the resolution that I would hope for. Oh well, I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

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Royal Machines is an all-star cover band comprised of members from several familiar bands. They are Dave Navarro (Janes Addiction), Billy Morrison (Billy Idol), Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray), Josh Freese (A Perfect Circle) and Chris Chaney (Alanis Morrisette), and actor Donovan Leitch. McGrath was the only one missing from the first show. 

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They played some awesome tunes. Then, they started to roll out the guests. Guitarist Steve Stevens was the first guest. Courtney Love came out for a three song set. Then Steve Jones, the guitarist from the Sex Pistols, played with the band. After that, Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top played a rocking set. He was followed by Billy Idol. Closing out the show was none other than Ozzy Osbourne.

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All I can say is that it was a wild night. I left the theater shaking my head.  

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Click here for the band’s official Mayan gig info and gallery.

YPO-WPO Global EDGE

I’ve been a member of YPO for 11 years and I’ve attended 10 Global Leadership Conferences. YPO has been a fantastic peer network. I’ve made great friends and learned a lot.  It has been an amazing resource for my role as the steward of the Horst Engineering Family of Companies and the leader of our business family. We simply wouldn’t be where we are today, a successful 68-year old high precision manufacturer, without the benefits of my involvement in YPO. My volunteerism within the organization has yielded great benefits.

A hallmark of YPO is that it is a member driven organization of 21,000+ chief executives. By giving back to our local chapter, to the YPO-WPO Family Business Network, and to the 55+ other Networks, I’ve been able to get the most of my commitments. Debbie has been a partner in all of this, as there is a strong spouse/partner, youth, and family aspect to the organization.

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Together, we have been to GLC’s in London, Washington D.C., Cape Town, Toronto, Sydney, Miami, Denver, Singapore, Istanbul, and Los Angeles. Each has been wonderful for their own reasons. This year’s event in L.A. was simply amazing. The EDGE portion of the event was the best line up of resources/speakers/education that I’ve experienced. I’ve had the benefit of great education over the years and nothing will compare to my three sessions of the Harvard Business School OPM program, but my last session was 10 years ago. YPO has kept me current. During the two days at EDGE, we learned about amazing technologies, overcoming challenges, philanthropy, exploration, entertainment, relationships, politics, and leadership development.

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YPO’s long time mantra is, “Better leaders through education and idea exchange.”

Never before in the 60+ year history of YPO has there been an event quite like the EDGE. The confluence of entertainment, technology, and industry in greater Los Angeles presented the member-led committee with a lot of opportunities. They made the most of the opportunity by tapping their own vast networks and they delivered a fantastic event that I’m grateful to have attended. No doubt that years from now, members will refer back to the 2014 EDGE..

I’m a student of public speaking, so this lineup was a real treat. I studied their styles, approach, and execution.

Jim Collins - I’ve heard Collins speak before, but this time I was more tuned in. He spoke at the closing of the GLC portion of the event, which was the perfect capstone to two days of learning. His business books are some of the best of all time, though his leadership lessons are applicable to all aspects of life.

Robert Wuhl - he was our master of ceremonies for the two-day EDGE. His humor was mostly “on” and his enthusiasm kept things moving along. He handled some of the moderating duties and did that well.

Eric Garcetti – the Mayor of Los Angeles, and a former YPOer, delivered a bullish presentation on the progress of his city. You couldn’t ignore his excitement for the city and all that it has to offer. It was a big welcome and didn’t cover any of the challenges that the metropolis faces (e.g. homelessness, poverty, history of crime and corruption, high cost of doing business, etc.), but it did get us pumped to be part of the city’s growth.

Peter Diamandis – I’ve heard Diamandis, founder of the X-Prize and Singularity University speak and I’m always fascinated by his incentive based approach to technological progress. It was cool to hear that X-Prize is expanding into a number of different areas, including health care. His efforts to drive entrepreneurial leadership are notable. I was particularly interested in his comments regarding robotics and 3D printing. He said, “Unless you are disrupting yourself, someone else will.”

David Agus – a professor for the University of Southern California, he had some interesting insights into cancer and genetics. He noted that sitting more than five hours a day is really bad for your health. I’ve been focused on my own sitting and now have a UpDesk, so this resonated with me. His comments about supplements were also interesting. He thinks they are a waste. 

Richard Lovett – I loved the story of how he became the head of Creative Artists Agency, one of the most powerful entertainment and sports businesses in the world. His firm represents some of the most famous actors and athletes on the globe. His comment, “Let the stars be stars,” was telling. He likes to work behind the scenes and has worked hard to build a teamwork based culture at CAA. 

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson – he was one of my favorite speakers. The Cornell University professor’s unbridled joy for science is contagious. I didn’t know much about him before the event. He has made his name through the television medium, and truthfully, I miss a bit not owning one. I’ll miss his launch of the new version of COSMOS, but my son and I will check it out on the National Geographic Channel via our iPad. His answer to a question of God was revealing and interesting. He has a way of describing complex concepts in simple terms. I’m still trying to get my head around the concept of the “multiverse.”

Susie Wolff – I’m a huge motorsports fan, and she is a rising star in the world of Formula 1. She is on track to be the first ever female to compete in a Grand Prix. I’m rooting for her, especially after hearing her speak about her upbringing and passion for racing cars. The technology in F1 plays a huge part in the sport, but the drivers are both athletes and personalities.

Neal Goldman – he is a YPOer and CEO of Relationship Science, a firm pioneering a cool new online networking platform that makes LinkedIn look pedestrian. He walked us through a demo. 

Diana Nyad – I was really looking forward to her talk, and she didn’t disappoint. I followed her quest to be the first person to swim unaided and without a shark cage, from Cuba to Florida, but I didn’t get swept up in the drama. Swimming is a sport that I’ve become much more interested in since rekindling my triathlon career in 2009. I’ve never been a fan of endurance sports that require sleep deprivation, but I was enthralled with her first hand description of the challenges. Clearly, she has a powerful inner passion that I identify with, but I felt overwhelmed by her dramatic delivery which was storybook. Her intensity was serious and nearly over the top. The talk was geared towards the general audience, but I would have loved to hear more about the controversy surrounding the accreditation of her swim. Much has been written, particularly in the hard-core swimming press, about her years of conflicts with her competitors, peers, and helpers. I chose to set all of that aside and just enjoyed an entertaining personal account of failure and triumph.

Jerry Weintraub – he was hilarious. I don’t spend much time following the entertainment industry. I appreciate film, but I’m no buff. I do appreciate good business and the legendary producer has combined art and business for decades. His life story is amazing. He didn’t avoid some of the more sordid details of his story, but merely hinted at relationships (particularly with his children) that have been damaged during his quest for even greater success and wealth.

Brandon Beck – I am not a gamer, but after hearing Beck speak for the second time about the meteoric growth of his YPO firm, Riot Games, I’m amazed by the success of their game, League of Legends. Again, there is no TV in our house, and limited screen time permitted for our two kids. Video games are a huge industry and they aren’t going away. In my opinion, Beck’s description of the professional gaming community as “athletes” is a stretch. I’ve already tuned out the Olympics (both winter and summer) and I’ll tune them out more when video gaming becomes an official sport. Even still, I learned a lot from him.

Edward Norton – his explanation of CrowdRise, of which he is a co-founder and partner, was adequate, but I wasn’t impressed with his presentation. The philanthropic tool is something that Debbie and I will research for the many non-profits that we are involved with, but his talk was just a big commercial for the website and we really didn’t learn anything about his own rise to acting stardom and how he is translating his public persona and fame into the global charitable community.

Magic Johnson – I’ve heard Magic speak before and even met him at a book signing in Boston many years ago. I love him. He is the real deal. The passion and love for everything he is invested in (e.g. basketball, baseball, community, business) is insane. He is a wonderful speaker. It’s amazing how he has built his business by building great partnerships. I could have listened to him speak all night. I would still root for Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics every time, but Magic’s competitive fire is legendary and it has served him and so many others well.

Larry King – the longtime journalist was our moderator on day two. He handled Q&A duty for several speakers, including President Bill Clinton. One of the best exchanges of the EDGE was his discussion with Robert Redford. A member of the audience asked King to comment on each of the POTUS’ that he interviewed going back to Richard Nixon. He had something interesting to say about all of them: Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. 

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong – he was one of the best speakers. He appeared three times. Once on his own, then on a panel, and then with Bill Clinton. He is pioneering some amazing technologies. He is a very smart man, and it was evident. He demonstrated some amazing technology that can be run on an iPhone or other mobile device. He showed us next generation robots that have “augmented cognition” or feelings. This so-called, “next sense” is wild stuff. One robot is dubbed an “empathetic humanoid.” The use of the cloud for real-time research is speeding the advance of many technologies. He is working on projects that will revolutionize science. He plans to restore eyesight to the blind and hearing to the deaf.

James Cameron – I loved hearing from Cameron. I have read a lot about him in National Geographic magazine. I’ve shown our son videos of his recent dive to the deepest part of the ocean. His interview was all about his film directing career, which is legendary. He directed The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2, True Lies, Titanic, and Avatar. Those last two films are the only films that have grossed more than $2 billion each. He said that Arnold Schwarzenegger taught him that “doubt make you good” and that preparation is critical to any outcome. 

Bill Clinton – I had never heard Clinton speak live before, but I’ve watched a lot of video. He is one of the best orators I’ve seen. His talk was casual and seated. It wasn’t a speech. He was relaxed and interesting. He spoke at length about the work that his foundation is doing, particularly in the cancer arena. He spoke of “lifestyle choices” being important to the prevention of chronic disease. I wish he said more about this topic and commented on vegetarianism/veganism as examples of good habits. He is working with Dr. Soon-Shiong on several initiatives including a low-cost hearing aid project. 

Francis Frei/Troubador Theater Company – the Harvard Business School professor was joined by an acting troupe to play out some of the concepts she was discussing. It was hit or miss, but mostly hit. I enjoyed her insight into some of the best service oriented companies around, including Commerce Bank and Southwest Airlines. I was interested in learning about her concept that companies have to have the “courage to be bad” in terms of doing what they are good at and not focusing on the things that they are not good at. She said, “Leadership is about making others better in your presence, but making it last in your absence.” 

John Gray – Debbie and I heard the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus author at a breakout session. I first read his book as assigned reading in my senior year capstone course at Boston College in 1994. He was hilarious, and he makes sense. 

Adam Bain and Adam Lashinsky – the President of Global Revenue at Twitter was interviewed by Lashinsky, Senior Editor at Large for Fortune magazine. It was an inside look at Twitter, which I use from time to time. I’m no expert, so this talk offered some insight. It’s an amazing business concept and these two are on the cutting edge. 

Sheryl Sandberg – The Facebook COO and author of Lean In, appeared on video link up. She was fantastic. I enjoyed hearing directly from her. Her rise in Silicon Valley is amazing and the work she is doing for women is noble. She is also a member of YPO and working closely with the Women’s YPO Network, which I also support through my oversight of YPO’s four Global Business Networks. 

Robert Redford – the legendary actor was interviewed by King. I recently saw his movie, All Is Lost, on a flight. The interview covered a wide range of topics, from film to politics, and the environment. I am a big Redford fan, so this was a real treat. 

Melissa Etheridge – the Oscar and Grammy winner spoke first, about her long career and all of the challenges along the way. She is a cancer survivor and she is well-known as a gay artist. She was genuine and funny. She followed her talk with a short acoustic set to end the EDGE. Later that night, at the closing show, she played an hour-long set with her band. It rocked. 

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The EDGE was everything I hoped it would be and more. 

Los Angeles & Santa Monica

Part two of last month’s trip to Los Angeles for the YPO-WPO Global Leadership Conference and Global EDGE was in Santa Monica. After four days in Laguna Beach, we moved to the fantastic boutique hotel Shutters on the Beach. I had two-day board meeting there. While I was in meetings, Debbie and the kids explored Santa Monica.

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Our location couldn’t be better. We did early morning runs on the beachside trail. There was a very cool “adult playground” with pull-up bars, rings, and a host of other exercise related obstacles. By mid-morning, the walkway was teeming with walkers, runners, cyclists…and tourists. There was a kids playground too. Santa Monica High School was less than a mile from the hotel, so one afternoon, I was able to get in a good track workout while dodging lacrosse balls.

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We were within site of the Santa Monica Pier, which falls into the Disneyland category, but still worth a visit. The Promenade shops and restaurants were fun. My sister, Stacie, lived in L.A. for a few years and worked in Santa Monica, so I had been on a few occasions. Again, the vegan food options are abundant and we had a few meals at Real Food Daily, a great spot.

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We got childcare help from the daughter of a friend who lives in Santa Monica, and were able to get out for a couple of dinners. We even went bowling with my board friends, which is a very “non-Livingston” thing to do. Someone noted that I was “competitive.” That drew a chuckle. We had a blast.

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The Santa Monica visit was a short three days, but we packed it in. I had another YPO board meeting to cover before the main Global Leadership Conference started on a Sunday afternoon. I caught a ride downtown and checked us into our Hilton room. Debbie and the kids enjoyed the Ocean Front Walk and playgrounds one more time, and caught a taxi downtown later in the day. Debbie’s mother, Barbara, flew out to meet us that afternoon and she spent the second week of our trip watching the kids while we attended the conference.

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The conference was fantastic. Mrs. Schieffer and the kids did their “homework” at the large public library strategically located across the street from the hotel. They did a double-decker bus tour that took them all over Hollywood. They went to three museums. They explored the town. We had one day together after the conference ended, but storm Titan had already made landfall.

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The storm brought heavy rain and wind, but we still took the Metro to Universal Studios for an interesting day of tours, rides, and rain. It was the last day of a long trip and everyone was ready to get home (to the snow, ice, and cold), but we made the best of it and had a good time. Our original hope was that it would be spring when we returned to New England, but our hopes were dashed. Winter still had its grip on Connecticut. Regardless, our SoCal sojourn was worth it.

Laguna Beach & Disneyland

Last month, our family spent a few weeks in southern California. We were headed to Los Angeles for the YPO-WPO Global Leadership Conference and Global EDGE, so we expand the trip to include some Horst Engineering customer visits and a little downtime.

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The first part of our California stay was in the Orange County city of Laguna Beach. This coastal town about an hour south of L.A. is neat place. I hadn’t previously spent any time there. We rented a little two-room cottage about 1/2 mile from Main Beach, which was near many of the restaurants and shops. This part of California has a lot of vegan eating options. The healthy food is bountiful. We had a small kitchen in our cottage, so we made good use of the small Whole Foods that was a short walk from our front door.

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The Main Beach had a fantastic playground that the kids thoroughly enjoyed. I swam in the surf once (with my wetsuit) and the kids played in the waves for as long as they could stand the cold water. During our stay, Debbie and I each got in a few good runs. There was an awesome outdoor municipal pool 100 meters from our little cottage, so I got up early one morning and swam laps for the $2.00 guest fee. You have to love California for this sort of thing. It was a low-key visit to an artsy and sporty town.

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One day, we drove to Anaheim and Disneyland. It was a surprise for the kids…and for me too. I hadn’t been to Disneyland in 15 years. The park is quite a contrast from Laguna Beach. Anaheim, where I have been several times on business trips, is a concrete jungle. It was school vacation, so the park was overcrowded. It was a cool day with intermittent sunshine, but that didn’t mean the lines were short. It was an interesting experience. The crowds were a bit overwhelming for them, and by the end of 10 hours, they had their fill too. Check the box on that one.

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Thankfully, we followed our Disney day with a trip to Crystal Cove State Park, which is between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach. After my morning visit to a customer in Costa Mesa, we were joined by my cousin, Dan Roy, who currently makes his home in Los Angeles. He is used to Livingston Family adventures, having done a handful of ultramarathon trail races with us. He has crewed for Debbie and spent time with the kids, so he knows how we roll.

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We had a fun and easy hike around the lower half of the park. We had some awesome views. We watched the sunset from the beach and then retreated back to our cottage for some dinner. The next morning, I shuttled the family to our Santa  Monica hotel and Dan helped me return the rental car to Orange County. Our short stay in Laguna Beach was fun.

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Mt. Greylock Father/Son Adventure

Yesterday, my son and I had an excellent father/son adventure. I’ve been writing about adventure in this blog for many years. I’ve had solo adventures, team adventures, adventures with friends, mis-adventures; and of course, adventures with Debbie.

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It’s kind of cool that my son is growing up and we can now have father/son adventures. On a family trip to the White Mountains last summer, he and I made a pact to climb all of the  New England 4000 Footers…in winter. Debbie and I have done them all, but not in winter. She has no interest in dealing with all of that cold weather hiking.

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This winter, rather than jumping into a 4,000 footer without preparation, and preferring a shorter drive, we decided to start with a 3,000 footer. Mt. Greylock, the high point (3,491 feet) in Massachusetts is a hill I know well, so it was a logical choice. I’ve run it in summer many times and hiked it in winter a few times. We were last there for the 2013 Mt. Greylock Trail Race.

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It wasn’t all easy for him. He had his low points like everyone does on a long hike. We used snowshoes the entire time, which added to the effort required. It was an eight mile round trip in just under six hours with a fair amount of elevation gain/loss. Several times, he wished that he was “at home playing with his LEGO.” He also asked for “Momma” on multiple occasions, threatened to stop, and claimed “this isn’t worth it.” I chuckled each time without offending, and applied CGP (constant gentle pressure). He did the whole hike on his own power and he also carried his own pack most of the way.

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We parked on Mountain Road and took the Gould Trail to the Appalachian Trail up to the summit. On the descent, we took the Thunderbolt Ski Trail to Bellows Pipe Trail South and then wound our way on various side trails/snowmobile trails until we found our way back to Gould and the car.

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It was a really nice route. We had Gould all to ourselves, though the trail was tramped on earlier in the week. It was cold, in the high single digits (Fahrenheit) when we started at 8:00 A.M. and warmed up a bit. The sun was brilliant, which felt great. The snow was perfect depth and consistency for a nice snowshoe climb. When we crossed the access road at the AT intersection, we saw a runner coming down the snow-covered road from the summit. We paused to see him and we were surprised to see that it was our long time trail running friend, Will Danecki. He was out for a training run on his Dion Snowshoes. It was fun to chat with Will, who was in the area to visit his mother.

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There was no wind on the summit, so we were able to take in the great views, chat with other hikers who came up different routes, take photos, and enjoy a snack. We met some backcountry skiers and learned about their gear, including the “skins” they use to go uphill on skis. It was fun to watch the skiers and snowboarders barrel down the Thunderbolt. That was thrilling.

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On the way down, we ran into another acquaintance. Don Boire and his friend, Tricia, were hiking up so they too could ski/snowboard down. We also ran into another father with his young daughter. She was a firecracker. She asked my son how old he was. When he said, “Seven,” she proclaimed that she was “four and a half.” She was going up…on skis. She had a slick little chest harness and her Dad was offering assistance by pulling her. It was cool.

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We had some good trail time together so I told him stories about past trips and stuff. It as a day filled with lessons and learning. I told him about the time back in 2000 or 2001 when I first visited Greylock with his mother. It was a rainy June day and the Thunderbolt was all mud. That year, the Greylock Trail Race was run down the Thunderbolt, which they no longer do. I walked to the summit in sandals and watched her free-fall down that hill with reckless abandon. It was amazing. I’ve never seen someone descend like she did that day. It’s an awesome trail, but I have no interest in running down it. She would go back tomorrow.

A day in the woods with my boy was sheer joy. When I tucked him into his bed last night, and I told him how proud I was, he said, “Dad, it really was worth it.”

2013 Appalachian Mountain Club Photo Contest

I’m proud to say that I had a winning image in the 2013 Appalachian Mountain Club Photo Contest. I also had winning photos in 2011 and 2009. Each time you win, you have to sit out a year, so that is the only downside to having a photo selected. I’ll be on the sidelines for 2014, but that won’t stop me from hiking and shooting pictures.

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My photo of our daughter at Mizpah Spring Hut took first place in the “AMC in Action” category. Our July 2013 trip to the White Mountains was full of good images, but the “Packboard Banjo” shot was my favorite, and it’s never been posted until now.

It’s captioned: “This image of our daughter is from a post-Jackson pit-stop, our son’s first all self-powered 4000 footer. I’ve gotten great afternoon light through the windows of Mizpah on many occasions. I love the contrast of youth and history in this photo, and envision our kids wearing that packboard, years from now, when they are Croo.”

If you know the AMC and its history, there is a lot of symbolism in this image. 2013 was the 125th anniversary of our club’s hut system and we had a year-long celebration, so I’m even happier that my image was from a hut. I took the photo with my Leica M9 and Summilux-M, 1:1.4/35mm ASPH lens. ISO 320 was set and shutter speed was 1/60th. The M9 hasn’t been recording aperture (I think it should, though my early model is struggling with recording it), but it was probably F2.8 or F4.0. It’s not relevant.

Congratulations to all of the winners. I enjoy seeing everyone else’s work. I’m happy to say that my vote for the “People’s Choice Award Winner” was selected. What a cool rime ice photo. Check all of the great photos out.

2014 Shenipsit Striders 6-Hour Run

Rabbit, rabbit. Today was a day of firsts. First run of the year. First photo of the year. First twisted ankle of the year. First wrong turn of the year. First blister of the year. Let the fun begin!

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More than 50 Shenipsit Striders and friends came out to Crandall Park in Tolland, Connecticut for our annual 6-hour run. It was a great way to kick off 2014. Our club is strong and getting stronger. It was great to catch up with folks after this long holiday stretch and hear about some of their 2014 athletic objectives.

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Debbie and I are excited about the year ahead with some awesome races on the calendar. Things certainly aren’t final yet, but as events are scheduled, we are adding them to our plans. It’s nice to have the focus and clarity that January 1st brings.

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Thanks to Clinton Morse for spearheading the 6-hour run, setting up the aid station with lots of goodies, and marking the course. Thanks to Hector Morera for sweeping the course and picking up the flags. Thanks to everyone who came out to run on a cold, but sunny day.

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Debbie went early and did four laps of the three-mile loop in a few hours. I met her there with our kids. I did a lap with our son while she hiked with our daughter. She returned home and I did a few more laps including a special one with multiple wrong turns that tacked on a few extra miles.

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Folks came out and did as many or as few laps as they desired. It was a great low-key start to 2014.


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