2014 7 Sisters Trail Race

The 7 Sisters Trail Race is a rite of spring for our family. Today, Debbie ran it for the 15th time, a remarkable achievement. We think those finishes are all in a row, though it is possible that there was one miss somewhere in the middle of that streak. Regardless, she gets a whole lot of credit for devoting herself to one of the iconic trail races in New England. Next year, I’m sure she will be back for her first Grand Tree race as a 40+ runner. Until then, there is no rushing Father Time.

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I was also registered to run today, and had my heart set on a beautiful day tramping across the rocky and rugged 12 mile (6 out/6 back) section of the New England Scenic Trail (Metacomet-Monadnock Trail). Alas, I’ve been under the weather, I’m dinged up, and it didn’t make sense to risk further injury or illness, as a result of running a race that has destroyed me so many times in the past. Plus, I had the opportunity to spend time on the trail with my kids, which is far more important than notching another New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series finish. I’ve got loads of races ahead of me, including next weekend, so a little rest will help. 

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Last year, I wrote that we saw a lot of new faces on the trail. Again, there were more than 500 finishers, which is truly remarkable. Sisters gets so many more runners than the other Grand Tree races. I hope we get some of these newbies to join us in two weeks at the 30th anniversary Soapstone Mountain Trail Race. Debbie is the Race Director and our club mates from the Shenipsit Striders are gunning for a great day. If today’s runners liked the climb up Bare Mountain, they’ll also enjoy Killer Hill.

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Racing today for the Striders along with Debbie were Tony Bonanno, Chris Kelly, and Gary Hebert. I also saw my Team Horst Sports teammate, Andris Skulte, on the trail, though he was nursing a twisted ankle after the finish. It was his rookie experience on the New England Trail.

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Now that 7 Sisters has gone national with its inclusion in the 2014 La Sportiva Mountain Cup, it’s got even more publicity. Race Director, Fred Pilon, and his volunteers (many from the Sugarloaf Mountain Running Club) did a good job organizing the crowds. There were substantial changes from past years. The start/finish was moved to Military Road, which runs perpendicular to the main road where we normally start. This is a safer spot and poses less congestion for the busy route.

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The race used chip timing for the first time, and there were five wave starts with about 100 runners per wave. The wave starts were used to ease congestion on the narrow, steep, and rocky initial climb up Bare Mountain. The race always bottlenecks at the start. This year, it was improved, but in the end, it probably doesn’t matter. It’s a trail race and most folks were out there to have fun.

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Even still, there were some fast runners, including a Colorado contingent that put its stamp on the event. I’ll add the results link and commentary when I see them posted online. Like last year, the parking, registration, and post-race refreshments were at the  “The Bunker” located on Amherst College property up Military Road adjacent to the Bare Mountain. Last year, I made the mistake of leaving my car on the inside of the gate. I went for a bike ride, only to return to my car locked inside the complex. I resolved the matter with a call to the Amherst College Police. There was no issues this year. 

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After the race, we had a late lunch at our favorite restaurant, Paul & Elizabeth’s, in Northampton. The kids and I chose to stay close to the start/finish rather than going to the turnaround or access road on Mount Holyoke. Instead, we hiked to the summit of Bare Mountain to enjoy the view. Then we camped out at the nastiest section of trail to watch the runners come through on their way to the finish. The trail was mostly dry. The temperature was warmer early in the morning with bright sun, but by mid-race, it was cloudy, cool, and there were intermittent showers. Spring still hasn’t sprung, but that’s OK, the 7 Sisters vibe warmed us up, even if only for a few hours.

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2014_7 Sisters Trail Race 1179

Race Results


Printroom Photos (images from the start and then at the 11.75 mile mark (rocks) for runners in the 1:54 to 2:50 finish time range)

The race results are up. It was interesting to see that the top two men were from North Carolina. They should know east coast trails well, but 7 Sisters is still a different kind of beast. It would have been awesome to see some of the top local Sisters men from past years (i.e. Nephew, Schmitt, Low, Ferenc, Hammett, Rusiecki, Krause, et al) take on these guys.

Ryan Woods was first in 1:54:03. He was followed by Jason Bryant and Matthew Zanchi. The first woman, Megan Kimmel, was 5th overall in a fine 2:05:40. She was well ahead of Kelsey Allen and Kehr Davis. 433 runners finished the race. I saw a few injuries, but nothing major, or at least nothing that you wouldn’t expect on the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail.

It was certainly a good day in the woods. We will see if the 2014 changes made a difference and if they stick for 2015. The trail was dry, so that is a good think when that many people are out running at once. I’m sure the Friends of Mt. Holyoke Range will benefit again from the generosity of the race organizers. Giving back to the trails is one of the great benefits of these local races.

2014_7 Sisters Trail Race 1193

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So that little injury caused by my @renocxnats crash on Saturday afternoon wasn’t so little after all. It’s a broken leg (fibula). Prognosis is good, but it hurts like heck. My blog post report with blow by blow details is linked in my profile. #cxnats #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #crossisboss - - -

This #lifedeathcyclocross stuff is true!!!! I crashed out of the Singlespeed Championship @renocxnats (on the dreaded off-camber) but not before having more fun. @artroti43 raced on the frosty course ❄️ at day break. 🚴🏽 We met a lot more @horsteng #crossspikes customers. I hung with little bunny hopper 🐰 Miles, the Junior 11-12 year old Silver Medalist.🥈I cheered for Nic, who represented @the_ccap in the Junior 15-16 age group. @sportstert and Iva came down from Tahoe to cheer LOUDLY for me. 🎺 I got my badly sprained ankle taped and iced. I had a beer. 🍺 I’m even looking forward to my red eye flight home ✈️ . Best of all, I’ll see @trailrunningmom and the kids on Sunday. I can’t explain the sensation, but despite the pain, I’m ready for next #Cyclocross season to begin... after some rest. #teamhorstsports #cxnats #horstengineering @parkavebikeshop #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross #crossiscoming You could say that at least for this week, I’m married to my #bicycle - - -

@renocxnats #cxnats @seven_cycles #sevencycles #teamhorstsports #horstengineering #crossspikes @horsteng #chapelofthebells #Cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross Good day representing @horsteng at @renocxnats in the 45-49 age group. It’s a great course. The wind was blowing hard, but the sun finally came out. I’m happy with 37th place but should have made a move to get to 29th, which was 30 seconds ahead. That’s a long way when you are going flat out and cramping. 4,500 foot elevation was a factor. I’m disappointed that they cut one lap of my race when I wasn’t close to getting lapped by the leaders. You train this hard and come all this way; and you want to get the most racing for the $ and time invested. They only let 25 riders do the full six laps. The only positive to come out of that was that I watched fellow New Englander @adammyerson execute a perfect final sprint to win the Stars and Stripes again. Teammate @artroti43 had a good ride too. 
@seven_cycles #sevencycles #horstengineering #teamhorstsports @bicycleseastct #crossspikes #cxnats #renocxnats #Cyclocross #crossisboss @therichardsachs didn’t have the race he hoped for but it was still great to see him @renocxnats and “pit” for him. He said he officially started his second off season, but first of 2018. @artroti43 and I played soigneur/mechanic for 90 minutes, but minus the massage! atmo #renocxnats #richardsachs #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #hauteframebuilding #Cyclocross #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross I previously hadn’t published this image, but it recently received an Honorable Mention in the 2017 @appalachianmountainclub Photo Contest for the People Outdoors category. Check out my blog (link in profile) for the interesting story of his photo (shot with this iPhone 6s), a trip report from this amazing Maine adventure, and past contest history. I love this image of two of my favorite women. I’m barred from submitting images to the 2018 contest, but I’ll be back in 2019. #appalachianmountainclub #baxterstatepark #katahdin Congratulations to Master Park, the Park Family, and the entire team at Park’s U.S. #Taekwondo at the Grand Opening of the new facility in the former VFW building. Our kids love it! So much better than being next door to the pawn shop and liquor store.😊#tkd 🇺🇸🇰🇷 This morning, the @trinitycollege Main Quad was bathed in beautiful sunshine ☀️but it was frigid and the wind was blowing! ❄️ The chapel was packed with an overflow crowd to celebrate the (shortened) life of a lovely friend. She will be missed. #circleoflife 🌏 #Repost @horsteng
We just launched the #cxnats edition of #crossspikes News and it is chock full of great information. Click our profile for a link to the newsletter and info regarding @renocxnats pre-orders and on-site sales. See you at the Race Expo! #crossisboss 🚴🏽🏆

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