2022 Metacomet Trail FKT (MUT)

Last night, Debbie finished the 100 kilometer Metacomet Ultra Traverse (MUT) and scored the supported Metacomet Trail FKT in the progress. Her time of 14 hours and 21 minutes (approximate) will have to be verified because her GPS died with about 80 minutes to go. I’m confident that we have enough evidence to prove her time, at least within a minute. She beat the prior time by about three minutes. I assure you that if she came up short, she was unlikely to try this beast of a trail again. There is more than 9,500 feet of vertical gain and the trail is very rocky as to crosses many traprock ridges.

THE MUT is part of the Connecticut Ultra Traverse (CUT), a 112 mile “race” from the Massachusetts border to Long Island Sound. Her attempt was crewed and supported throughout the day by our friend Chris Duffy. In the late afternoon, she got strong pacing and support from our friend Laura Becker. Dahlia and I joined up around 7:00 P.M., took over the crewing, and helped get her to the finish at the trail terminus on the Berlin Turnpike (Route 5) around 10:25 P.M.

The CUT includes the entire Metacomet Trail, a big chunk of the Mattabesett Trail, and the entire Menunkatuck Trail. The CUT runners are still on course. The entire route is 112 miles and it is gnarly. People don’t give Connecticut enough credit for its amazing trail system. The Metacomet is one of the iconic Connecticut Forest & Park Association Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails and her run was an awesome kickoff to the fantastic Trails Day Weekend. Connecticut has more than 850 miles of Blue-Blazed Trails.

The Connecticut Walk Book description of the Metacomet Trail described in the reverse direction from where she ran it:

Length: 62.2 miles

Towns: Berlin, Meriden, Southington, New Britain, Plainville, Farmington, West Hartford, Avon, Simsbury, Bloomfield, East Granby, Suffield

Trail Overview: The Metacomet Trail follows the striking traprock ridge from the Hanging Hills of Meriden to the Massachusetts border. While offering a wide variety of terrain, this trail affords incredible views, features historic landmarks, and offers the opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife.  Hikers will intersect well known and iconic landmarks on the trail including Castle Craig in Hubbard Park, Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, and the Heublein Tower in Talcott Mountain State Park in Simsbury. Other notable points of interest include Will Warren’s Den and Pinnacle Rock in Farmington, Ragged Mountain in Berlin, the Tariffville Gorge in Tariffville, and Suffield Mountain in Suffield. Views from the northern stretch of the trail stretch west to the Barndoor Hills and north to Manituck Mountain.

A variety of loop hike opportunities are possible where the Metacomet intersects other significant trail systems. Most notably are the adjoining trail systems in Hubbard Park in Meriden, Timberlin Park in Berlin, Crescent Lake in Southington, Ragged Mountain Preserve in Berlin, the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) Reservoirs in West Hartford, Penwood State Park on the Simsbury/ Bloomfield line and Sunrise Park in Suffield.

Along the trail hikers will travel through sites beautifully forested with mature growth trees, encounter numerous glacial erratics, enjoy the expanded views from the traprock ridgeline, and marvel at the trailside wildflowers that abound in the spring. On the northern section of the trail, hikers will encounter unique Metacomet basalt eroding into chimney-like spires along the cliff edge.  The trail is distinguished by its steep and challenging nature in places. Other sections of the trail are more moderate allowing for a rolling ridge walk. In West Hartford, along Reservoir #6, the trail follows a graveled path that is wide and flat for easy strolling. 

The Metacomet Trail is part of the 215 mile New England National Scenic Trail (NET). The NET was designated as a national scenic trail in 2009 and connects from the Long Island Sound to the MA/NH border. The NET is comprised of the Menunkatuck, Mattabesett, Metacomet and Metacomet-Monadnock Trails. A detailed resource for hikers is the NET Map & Guide. For more info about the NET visit newenglandtrail.org

Debbie is no stranger to the Metacomet Trail. She and I did it in the middle of our June 2020 FKT on the entire New England Trail. On that trip, we went 242+ miles from the summit for Monadnock in New Hampshire to the shoreline in Connecticut. That adventure included the entire CUT and gave us a good look at the Metacomet Trail. That trip included more walking than running as it took 5.5 days and required some sleep. Laura, Debbie, and I gave the Menunkatuck Trail FKT a try in July of 2020, but I think we were still toast from our NET Adventure. We came up short, but it was still a great run. She returned to the Mattabesett Trail in September of 2020 and set that FKT which included the eastern section (spur) that wasn’t part of our NET FKT.

Her original plan was to do the entire CUT, but I didn’t think the full 112 mile run was prudent with only six weeks to go before the Hardrock Endurance Run. I talked her into doing the “baby” CUT, which is the MUT. I didn’t see any reason for a race with substantial sleep deprivation. It worked out for the best as our weekend schedule didn’t allow for the CUT. Our son is on a Scout trip, we have a family wedding tonight, and Debbie’s brother Tom is visiting from Montana. Both the CUT and MUT started at the same time at 8:00 A.M. yesterday (Friday). This will be her second trip to Hardrock. In 2017, she completed the epic San Juan Mountains loop in the counter-clockwise direction. She was lucky enough to get into the race for a second time and will have the good pleasure to attempt a second finish (but in the clockwise direction) in 2022.

It’s too bad the run didn’t start earlier (like 5:00 A.M. or 6:00 A.M.) because she would have been able to do the full trail in daylight. That would have certainly allowed for a faster time. It also would have given her a few more hours of running in a cooler temperature. She said the heat got to her around 2:00 P.M. and that’s when she fell behind her goal pace. She did the first 30 miles on 13 hour pace, but knew that the 85 minute buffer would be good to have in the last half of the run. The trail conditions were decent, but she said there was a lot of overgrowth. Everything has bloomed and trail maintainers haven’t gotten out to clip away the plants that are encroaching on the trail. The temperature climbed into the 80’s (Fahrenheit). The day started with some rain showers and the showers returned in the 7:00 P.M. timeframe. That made for some wet spots. Even when it wasn’t raining, it was humid. These were tough conditions, but that’s what you get in June in New England.

I keep going back and forth between “run” and “race.” The CUT/MUT is more of an organized/supported run and not really a full-blown race. With specified checkpoints, you arrange for your own crew to provide aid. The run is the brainchild of Art Byram, the host of the CULTRA Trail Running Podcast. Art is longtime trail running friend. I first bonded with Art at the 2020 Shenipsit Striders Shenipsit Trail End-to-End Run. We were the only two runners to do the second half of the “relay” run. Since then, he has been a huge cheerleader for Debbie’s exploits. She has been a podcast guest on several occasions.

Our whole family guested in January after Debbie’s HURT 100 victory. She talked Blue-2-Blue Trail Race in October 2020. Art chatted with the two of us after the NET FKT in 2020. Her first appearance on the podcast was episode 13 in March of 2019.

Art is very involved in the trail running community and I would like to think that my longtime involvement with the Connecticut Forest & Park Association as a board member (and now honorary board member) has helped influence his commitment to CFPA. Art has run all of the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails. Proceeds from the CUT/MUT benefit CFPA. He frequently promotes CFPA on the podcast. This is awesome.

Debbie’s Metacomet run was hard. I had a busy day at work, and had to look after the kids, so it was really nice that Chris took the day off to crew for her. He picked her up around 6:45 A.M. and drove her to the start. I got our kids on their respective buses and then worked all day. I got occasional text messages from Chris. Laura joined Debbie on Edgewood Road around 5:30 P.M. I got home around that time, made dinner with the kids, and dropped Shepard off at Center Church for his Scout trip to upstate New York. From there, I drove with Dahlia to rendezvous with Chris, Laura, and Debbie at the Edgewood checkpoint.

Debbie got there around 7:00 P.M. She didn’t stay long. Chris said his goodbyes as he had to return home. Dahlia hung out with some of the other crews while Laura and I joined Debbie by starting the long and hard section to Castle Craig. We ran/hiked with her for about a mile before turning back. We returned to the checkpoint and Laura said her goodbyes.

Dahlia and I made the short drive to the dam by the reservoir at the base of the descent from the Castle. It is a lovely spot. We hiked about a mile in on the trail to intercept Debbie. We ran back to the dam with her. At this point, she had less than six miles to go and it was dark. She was hurting, but didn’t take any aid. She took her backup light and forged ahead. We ran a little ways with her before turning back.

From there we drove to the finish on the Berlin Turnpike. I wanted to scout out the traffic situation. We gassed up the car and then backtracked to the intersection of the trail with Orchard Road where Kensington Road also crosses. This is where the singletrack ends. The last two miles of the Metacomet are technically on road. The terminus is at the Mattabeset Trail sign on the Berlin Turnpike at the intersection with Spruce Brook Road.

We parked the car at the side of Orchard Road. Dahlia stayed put and I walked a ways into the woods. I brought a reflective vest for Debbie to wear on the last stretch. She emerged from the woods and had about 20 minutes to cover the last 1.9 miles or so. The road isn’t straight or flat, so she had to fight hard to keep moving at the pace required. It’s always tough to watch her suffer, but I’ve seen enough of it to know that she has the grit and determination to push through. Dahlia and I cheered for her at various points on the road before Dahlia donned a waist light, hopped out of the car, and started running with her. They ran together for the final mile.

I drove ahead, parked the car, and then ran backwards to help them cross the busy four lane road. In the last five miles, she was passed by another MUT runner by the name of Matt Freiman. He had a strong finish. There were a few other crews at the “finish” including Matt’s. Debbie sprinted the final stretch of road and her finish was more relief than jubilation. I was pretty amped, but Friday night’s are never easy after a long work or school week. Dahlia was cooked. Debbie was really cooked. We got her washed up and drove home. She made it most the way, but as we entered our own neighborhood, she complained about her stomach. We quickly pulled over and she vomited for the first time. It was intense, but she felt better. We were all in bed by 11:30 P.M. and another great Livingston Family adventure was complete.

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@trailrunningmom finished the 100 kilometer #metacomettrail in about 14 hours and 21 minutes. We think she got the #fastestknowntime by about three minutes but her GPS watch died so we have to do the math and build the evidence package. She really worked for this one. Now she is ready for @hardrock100run in July. Little and ran with her on the last mile on Orchard and that was crucial.
@trailrunningmom came through 56 miles of the #metacomettrail in 12 hours and 46 minutes. She was running strong. About six to go! Little D’s pacing inspired her to pick up the pace. She is getting @ctforestandparkassociation Trails Day Weekend started in style.
@trailrunningmom is crushing the Metacomet Ultra Traverse (MUT). Thanks to @dfyc38 and @laurab_312 for their support. Deb has about eight miles to go at the 12 hour and 30 minute mark.
Helping out our neighbors: the kids are playing “farmer” this weekend. 🐓 🐐
Pumped to be back at the @newenglandairmuseum for Women Take Flight 2022. I brought Little D to help!
Little D says my artistic ability is lacking and that I’m better at business and cycling. Even still, we had a great afternoon @thefirestonect and then at the library. Florence was lovely company at our cafe table. The librarian pointed out a book option and then I reminded all within earshot that you can’t judge a book by its cover! #art #painting
Well that was pretty incredible. Congrats to @trailrunningmom Congrats to ALL the participants whether they finished or not. Mahalo to ALL of the volunteers. More will be written about this ohana when we get home.
@trailrunningmom was holding steady as she departed Nu’uanu for the last time at 92.5 miles. Shepard is having fun but it’s all business now. There is a pitched battle for second place and if they keep pushing, it’s a threat to Debbie’s lead. I’m doing the mental math and she has to keep pushing too. Anna and Mele left the aid station together and are throwing down.

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