The second Pittsfield Peaks Ultra Challenge was this past Saturday in Pittsfield, Vermont. Debbie had decided to run this beast again after finishing the Nipmuck Trail Marathon two weeks ago. The first Pittsfield last year was grueling and humbled both Debbie, men’s winner, Leigh Schmitt; and the rest of the brave runners who took a risk on a new race. This year’s race was on a nearly identical course, but all the repeat runners said the route was tamer. In analyzing the times, it seems as if last year’s event was more like 60 miles instead of the advertised 53. The images of the effort are fabulous.
Well that was last year. This is this year. Word had spread in the past 12 months, and it seems as if twice as many people lined up to run. The race started at 5:10 A.M. and it was fitting that the runners immediately went up a hill. Weather conditions were good in the morning and a bit more difficult in the afternoon. It got warmer and much more humid as the day went on. Just as evening approached, a line of thunderstorms rolled into Vermont, catching some runners in the rain. We weren’t able to stay to see all of the runners finish. Clearly, some were going to be out there for a while. Last year, many finished under cover of darkness.
Leigh Schmitt took top honors again, finishing in 8:29:59, more than 90 minutes faster than last year. He looked strong all day and was never really threatened. He established his lead on the first 12 mile segment, extended it on the next out and back section, then cemented it on the notorious 19 mile Bloodroot Mountain loop. He was chased by Tom Page, Brian Rusiecki, and Courtenay Guertin for most of the race. Tom (2nd in 9:11:25) and Brian (3rd in 9:18:48), kept their positions, but Courtenay was leap frogged later in the race.
Debbie won the inaugural race last year, but Nikki Kimball made the trek from Montana to test her legs on some New England terrain. Nikki was returning to home soil since she is a native Vermonter. Nikki took the win in 9:37:36 and finished 4th overall. She was followed by a remarkable masters runner, Bob Mathes in 5th, and the aforementioned, Courtenay Guertin, in 6th. Brennen Wysong was 7th. Debbie stayed with Nikki until the Bloodroot section, but eventually settled into her own pace. She was second woman in 10:38:48, good for 8th overall. She said that only had one bad stretch in the last 10 miles, but recovered after spending a little extra time at the last aid station to hydrate and refuel. Third woman was Brenda Phillips in 11:26:18. Brenda is another Vermonter.
I’ll add a link when the full results are posted.
The Peak Adventures crew and volunteers, led by Race Director Andy Weinberg, did a fabulous job again. Many runners remarked that the course was well marked (there was an issue with vandalism last year). The hospitality was again excellent. Camping was available right at the start line, which made the early wake up a lot easier. They didn’t run the Death Division event at the same time. It is next weekend. So for all you masochists out there, check it out. You better start training…mentally.
Once again, I crewed for Debbie with Shep. We had a great time and saw her five times. We made it to several aid stations via bike/trailer. I also got some great photos.