2017 Monroe Dunbar Brook Trail Race

Yesterday, the Livingston Family returned to the Monroe Dunbar Brook Trail Race for the first time in since 2014. The four of us did the 2 mile “sampler” version of the race, which is a simple one mile out/one mile back course along Dunbar Brook. It’s a fun little jaunt with lots of undulation, wet roots, and slippery rocks.

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I’ve personally run Monroe eight times since 2000, but Debbie has done it more than that. Her first was in 1999, and for a while, she was “streaking,” with more than six in a row. Six of the eight times that I ran it were in the 10.5 mile main event. I last ran the 2 miler, way back in 2000. She and I had been dating for about a year. She must have convinced me to run. I’m sure my legs were trashed! This year was Shepard’s second time doing the short course, and it was our daughter’s first time experiencing the beauty of Monroe.

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I know it had been a while since were at Dunbar Brook Picnic Area because all of the pine trees at the start/finish line are gone. I know they were there in 2014 and before that, in 2012. My photos prove it! The picnic area looked different this year with all of the open space. Debbie and I were in this neighborhood in May of 2016, but we passed by without stopping to notice that the trees were gone. We rode River Road from Rt. 2 as part of a mixed asphalt/dirt loop adventure that we did on our gravel bikes.

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Yesterday, I rode that road again. I rode from Savoy Mountain State Forest via Rt. 2. It was a fun, but very wet ride. We camped at Savoy on Saturday night after driving over from Berkshire East Mountain Resort. On Saturday afternoon, after the Mansfield Hollow Cyclocross and a soccer game, we drove to Thunder Mountain Bike Park at Berkshire East in Charlemont. We went there for a YPO family event called “Pick Your Own Adventure.” Shepard and I got in a few runs on rental downhill bikes. That was a blast.  We intend to return when we have a full day to explore the trails.

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I normally ride a 29 inch wheeled Seven Sola SL rigid singlespeed mountain bike, so the Giant Glory with 203mm of suspension and 27.5 inch plus tires was like riding an air mattress. Our first run was led by Guide Paula Burton, who is a tireless trail advocate and longtime NEMBA volunteer. Paula gave us some great tips for riding berms and technical descents. While Shepard and I rode, Debbie and Dahlia spent time on the Thunderbolt Mountain Coaster.

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After dinner, we drove to Savoy, located in the town of Florida, where we spent the night. We’ve been to Savoy many times over the years for trail running and snowshoe races. It was a windy and rainy night, but we slept in the van. Early on Sunday, I rode to the start of Monroe. Debbie and the kids passed me on the way, and then we met back up just before the start.

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The WMAC website has a lot of great history about the Monroe Trail Race, and results dating back to 1992. We wanted to get back to Monroe this year because we miss the people. I know that the faces have changed, but there is still a core group of New England trail runners who have been going to these classic races since the beginning. The calendar is full of newer events that conflict, and some interest in the Grand Tree Trail Running Series has waned, but it was THE series to participate in when Debbie and I first got involved. Monroe was part of the WMAC Trilogy, along with the Mount Greylock Trail Race and the Savoy Mountain Trail Race.

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I wish I had more time to socialize, but my ride took longer than planned. It poured the whole way, but it was gorgeous. Seemingly, overnight, the leaves changed colors and with mist rising from the valleys, the colors were finally starting to show. I got there about 20 minutes before the 10:00 A.M. start. The short course race went off 10 minutes later. Debbie ran with Dahlia and I chased Shepard. After we finished, we hiked down to the Deerfield River to see the Dragon’s Tooth. The water was flowing fast, but the kayakers had already passed through. We had to consult YouTube for video of people actually navigating the rapids.

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We climbed back up to the picnic area, changed up, and waited for the first 10.5 mile runner to arrive. That turned out to be Kelsey Allen, who broke the women’s course record by winning the race overall. That’s fantastic! It was great to see her. We saw two more runners finish, Daniel Grip, and Todd Bennett; before we snuck out of there. We ha to high-tail it back to Connecticut so Dahlia could attend a friend’s birthday party. Life is busy. We did make a quick pit-stop for lunch at Hearty Eats in Shelburne Falls.

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WMAC has so many great longtime volunteers. Ellen and Pancho Mach are two that come to mind. Pancho was at his usual spot, the turnaround point of the 2 miler. I swear that he was there 17 years ago when I did this race the first time. Ellen was minding the finish line food tables, just like in years past. The Monroe Trail Race will always been one of our favorites, and it’s even better now as a family affair.

Race Results

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