Martha’s Vineyard Adventure

Debbie and I were back at it. We had an adventure filled weekend on Martha’s Vineyard. A twice postponed wedding was the attraction. We really wanted to visit MV…in July 2020, but we were happy to finally get there in July 2022.

Our daughter was at Scout camp and our son visited Debbie’s parents, so we were free to explore on our own. We drove to Falmouth on Friday morning and took the Island Queen to Oak Bluffs. We brought our bikes and unless we were walking or running, they were our main source of transportation. Debbie found a neat little studio apartment on AirBnb. Located in Vineyard Haven, it was walking distance to all of the wedding related events.

The biggest of our adventures was on Saturday. We got up around 5:15 A.M. and left Vineyard Haven around 5:50 A.M. It was warm and rainy but it felt good. We rode 14 miles west to Menemsha Beach where we locked our bikes to a fence near the marina. We stashed our cycling shoes in a pannier, clipped our helmets to our handlebars, and switched into our running shoes. From there, we walked out on to the farthest tip of the jetty on the east side of Menemsha Pond.

We started our GPS watches and then proceeded to run the entire north shore of Martha’s Vineyard, which had an established fastest known time (FKT). The 12 mile route hugged the uninterrupted coastline along Vineyard Sound until it reached the jetty at the mouth of Lake Tashmoo. This isn’t a trail, but it was kind of like trail running because there were no smooth surfaces. The conditions included gnarly rocks (baby heads), slippery rocks (big ones), soft sand, piles of seaweed, freshwater stream crossings, breakwaters, and a fair amount of running in the surf.

It is highly improbable that anyone would get lost on this route. If you keep the ocean on your left and the bluffs on your right and keep moving east, then you will be fine. The first five miles had the worst rocks and they were downright treacherous. Thankfully the tide worked in our favor. It was dead low at 7:00 A.M. and we started two minutes later. We checked in advance and new that this timing was near perfect. It’s important to stay below the high tide water line lest you want to run into private property issues. Bonus: there are no hills! I think we had only 43 feet of vertical gain. I think that you are OK to be there as long as you are “fishing, fowling, or clamming.” Since we are vegan, we have no interest in those three activities, but we did look for wildlife. There were lots of birds and they were lovely.

We finally got a few “runable” sections around the four mile mark. Our first few miles were 11:19, 12:42, and 11:02. That fourth mile was 10:48 and it felt fast. Mile five was slow again at 11:08 and mile six wasn’t much faster at 11:03. At that point, we were trailing the female FKT time (2h 15m 5s) by about five minutes, but we knew from our research that conditions would improve enough so that we could speed up.

Mile seven was our first sub-10 at 9:34. It felt super fast. Debbie was hanging tough. I ran about 100 feet in front of her, but shouted back encouragement. From there, it was 10:34, 9:58, 9:39, 10:37, and then 10:17. The last two miles had some tough technical sections. We had been running at the edge of the surf because it was slightly less rocky and the sand was a bit firmer. This made it faster than getting the mushy sand that had already dried.

Several times, we had to wade around breakwaters, which were basically piles of rocks like talus on a slope. However, they spilled into the water. It was faster to go around, even if the water was up to your crotch. Scrambling over them would have been slow and dangerous. We didn’t see anyone on the coast for the first seven or eight miles. We spotted a few fishermen in boats, but we didn’t run into folks on the shoreline until we got to the more densely populated eastern quarter of the island. At that point, we started to see early risers (and their dogs) walking on the beach.

This was a really fun and intersting route. The views were fantastic. I wouldn’t call this “coasteering” but it had elements of that activity. We each wore an UltrAspire hydration vest with about 1.5 liters of water. There was enough rock scrambling to make it fun, but we weren’t required to do any swimming. I will note that you can’t do this route and keep your feet dry. We chose to use older pairs of Altra Lone Peaks. The grip was adequate. They won’t be the same after running this route. You will likely never get the sand out of them and chances are they will smell like the ocean…forever, so don’t use a new pair.

I was shocked with how much debris washed up on shore. There were dozens and dozens of lobster pots, all kinds of flotsam, wood, pallets, plastic, and other stuff. It was discouraging to see all of this stuff realizing that our oceans are full of pollution.

We had a strong finish, made up the time we needed, and finished in 2h 12m 36s. By the time we finished, it was sunny and hot. I sweated buckets. From the jetty, we had to backtrack on the beach and then cut over to a dirt road. It was four miles back to Vineyard Haven, which hurt the legs, but we shuffled our way there, and got it done. Even that short run had multiple turkey sightings and a peacock sighting.

We changed, showered, and had breakfast at a little cafe. After that, we took an Uber ride back to Menemsha. The driver was fantastic. She has lived full time on MV since the mid-90’s and she filled us in a bunch of intersting facts. She told us about the Mememsha bike ferry, which we previously didn’t know about. We fetched our bikes, rode over to the ferry, and took it across the pond. We did a fun lap of Aquinnah on the west side of the island and then took Middle Road on the way back to Tisbury and Vineyard Haven. It was scorching hot and I was dragging, but Debbie spurred me on. We got back around 2:30 P.M., just in time to change for the wedding ceremony.

We got in a little more activity today, including a few more short rides and an open water swim (back at Tashmoo). Martha’s Vineyard is definitely a cool place and there is a lot more to explore. We had three days of hot and sunny, but awesome weather. Debbie and I needed this adventure and we made the most of it.

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