Today’s weather at the 7 Sisters Trail Race was spectacular. Debbie ran this legendary race for the 14th time in 15 years. The kids and I saw her at the start (which was nuts as usual), again on her return leg where the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail (M-M) crosses Mountain Road on the way to the summit of Mt. Holyoke.
I’ve written about the rocky and rugged 12 mile (6 out/6 back) race on the New England Scenic Trail (M-M) many times, so there several posts in my blog archives that cover history and past races.
Today’s race was notable for the record number of entrants. Results for this race are normally not posted for several days, but I bet there are 500 or more finishers, which is ridiculous. It’s amazing how this race has grown in popularity. The rugged nature of the course is the likely reason because other New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series races see far fewer runners. That’s too bad because there are some beautiful courses at some of the smaller events.
7 Sisters has its painful charm. I saw a fair amount of sprained ankles, bumps, bruises, and cuts. I didn’t run this year, but I trust Debbie’s judgment when she says that there were too many people on this narrow rocky trail. It’s single track 95% of the way and with the out and back format, the congestion is a potential safety issue.
Despite all of the newbies 7 Sisters, we saw a lot of our friends from the New England trail running community, including many club-mates from the Shenipsit Striders. The abundant sunshine, deep blue sky, and mild temperature permitted everyone to lounge on the grass after the race. The organizers moved the parking, registration, and post-race refreshments to a “The Bunker” located on Amherst College property up Military Road adjacent to the Bare Mountain.
I found results on Coolrunning for 26 other running races for 5 May in Massachusetts alone. There must have been even more races, plus Connecticut, so running in the spring is definitely growing in popularity, which is a good thing.
After watching the start, we drove over to the Mt. Holyoke side of the course. The gate on Mountain Rd. was closed again this year because of the ongoing construction at the Summit House. We parked and walked up the road to where the trail crosses on its way to the summit and then back down to the Connecticut River. We missed Debbie on her outbound leg, but we saw her on her return leg. She was in 2nd place, but ended up third. She wasn’t far behind first or third.
Her time was much slower than her personal best from the early 2000’s, but she still had a blast in the woods today. I’m proud of her 14 finishes. I wonder how many other runners at today’s race have that many finishes?
We lingered after the race and had a picnic lunch. Then, Debbie and the kids visited the Eric Carle Museum where they did artwork. Then they went for a bike ride on the Norwottuck Rail Trail. While they were sightseeing, I went for a long bike ride. I went back to Mountain Rd. and did six repeats from Rt. 42 to the summit and back. It was a good workout. After the last climb, I spent a little time on the summit taking in the awesome views.
The only hiccup was when I returned to Military Rd. to find my Subaru behind a locked fence. I purposely moved my car outside of the parking lot and on to the road to avoid a fence, but I missed the second fence farther up the road. I tracked down a ranger, who was helpful and contacted the Amherst College police for me. They sent an officer out after 30 minutes and he helped me liberate my car. I completed the days adventures by reuniting with Debbie and the kids in Northampton for a nice dinner. Maybe I’ll run 7 Sisters again in 2014. Maybe…
Race Photos (Printroom)