Archive for the 'Biographical' Category

2022 NipMuck Trail Marathon

Today was the 39th running of the NipMuck Trail Marathon. It was my 8th time running since 2004, but today I only did half as part of the team relay with Chris Duffy. He did the first half, and I did the second half. The second half is slightly longer. My GPS registered 13.8 miles.

Debbie also did the relay, racing with Laura Becker, who is quite pregnant. Seeing Laura bring back memories to 2006 and 2009 when Debbie ran throughout her pregnancies.

The Shenipsit Striders did a great job hosting this venerable race. I’m already thinking about the 40th and possibly doing the full distance. I haven’t run the entire course since 2011. That was my second best time. My fastest was in 2009. If I do run next year, it will be interesting to see how close I can get to those past times.

My legs were definitely tired after last week’s Vermont 50K, but with today’s race being shorter, I could push through the pain without any real risk of blowing up. The trail conditions were mint. It was cool and breezy, but that made for very pleasant running conditions in the woods.

It was nice to see a bunch of friends, help out at the start/finish aid station, and cheer for the other runners. I rode home from Ashford, but my legs were dead. It was a bit of a slog, but I made it alive.

This year, I’ve done more running than originally planned. I should probably back off a bit so I don’t overdo it. I’m starting to think a little about cyclocross, but I have a few other adventures on my mind as well.

Race Results (will be linked when available)

2022 Vermont 50K Trail Run

For my 20th time doing the Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run, I opted to do it on my feet. That decision was made back in May when race registration opened. I’m not exactly sure why I chose to mix it up for the first time since 2009, when I last ran the 50K, but it felt right back in May, and it still felt right at the start today.

I’ll definitely be back on the bike for 2023 because my body can only take running the 50K once every 13 years! I also ran most of the course (33 miles) in 2007 when I snapped my chain (twice) in the first 17 miles, and couldn’t repair it. Since then, I’ve almost exclusively ridden my singlespeed. I think that chain incident is what spurred me to get my singlespeed mountain bike.

Since 1999, I’ve only missed three of the races. Of course we all missed in 2020 when the race was cancelled. Our family were there in 2010 and 2014 but I didn’t race. In 2010, I was only three weeks out from the IRONMAN World Championships so I opted to watch. I couldn’t take a chance at crashing and it wouldn’t have been good preparation for my second “A” race of that season. In 2014, I had a broken scapula from a Labor Day Weekend road crash and couldn’t ride. 2015 is the only time that both Debbie and I have missed the race completely since we met in the Ascutney parking lot in ’99. The reason was that we were in Japan for a business trip and ULTRA Trail MT. FUJI. This was her 17th VT50 today. She has missed on a few occasions because of pregnancy and birth. Our kids were born in August and September. In addition to missing for UTMF, she skipped in 2011 because Grindstone was a week later. For many years in Vermont, the 50-miler was her focus, but she has mixed in a handful of 50K’s, and the last three times, she rode it on the mountain bike.

That miss for Japan was good at the time, but I don’t think we will intentionally miss a VT50 ever again. Something would have to come up to pull us away. It’s become a family affair. Shepard rode with us in 2019 and 2021, but this year, he is 100% focused on high school cross country, and even riding easy wouldn’t be good for his training program. He missed riding today, but hung out with Dahlia, and spent time at the new Ascutney Trails mountain bike skills park, which is fabulous.

Today’s race was a tough one. The conditions were perfect. It was cool and breezy. The temperature at the start was around 44 degrees Fahrenheit and it warmed up by early afternoon into the low-60’s. The rain held off until 2:00 P.M. and thankfully Debbie and I were finished by then. It was mostly cloudy, but there were occasional breaks of sun, especially earlier in the morning. The 50-miler started at 6:00 A.M., but the 50K started at 8:00 A.M., so we got some extra rest, which was welcome.

Debbie and I were only together for the first mile. On the first big dirt road climb, I pulled away. I was feeling good, especially on the climbs so I ran my own pace. I wore Altra Olympus 4.0 shoes, and I wore an UltrAspire hydration pack. I’ve had a few aches and pains recently, but most 49 year-olds do. My legs held up for 25 miles, but then they seized up.

I spent a good part of the race running with women’s leader Leah Nicholson. She ended up in 2nd after we both got caught around the 25 mile mark when I started to slow. She and eventual winner Vanessa Hartstein were running strongly, and they must have had a good battle because they put 20 minutes into me in less than seven miles. I was really hurting and a total of seven people ended up passing me. It sucks to fade so badly, but running these distances doesn’t play to my strengths and I was happy to spend the time on this lovely course and see it from a different perspective. It was nice to run with Leah and learn a bit about her. That helped make some of the time pass more quickly.

Debbie finished 11.5 minutes behind me in 16th overall (5th woman and 2nd in her age group). If the race was a few miles longer, she would have caught me, which would be consistent with all of the ultras we have run together. On a faster course like the VT50K, I can hold her off if I build a big enough lead in the early stages and delay my blow-up as long as possible. The second half of the course runs slower, but I was even slower than that!

Yesterday’s pre-race festivities were fun. The weather was fabulous with bright sunshine. Once again, Debbie was the Race Director of the kids races. There were: 1-mile MTB race, 2-mile MTB race, 1/2-mile trail run, 1-mile trail run, and a 2-mile trail run. She laid out the loop course earlier in the summer when she and I made a visit to Brownsville. Dahlia and I were course marshals and Shepard rode his MTB in front of the fields as the “rabbit.” Several of our friends, including Tricia Dowcett and Arlen Zane Wenzel were also race volunteers.

It was great to see so many friends at the race. Lots of people say hello to us. When you have been around an event like this, for a long time, people get to know you. Once again, kudos go to Race Director Mike Silverman and the race committee. The aid stations were stocked full and the volunteers were great. This race is a big fundraiser for Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports. On the drive home, I pulled off the highway to stretch my legs. Shepard and I got out of the car, and while we were stretching, he said, “I love Vermont.” I couldn’t agree more.

Race Results

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.

2022 Hardrock Endurance Run

Debbie didn’t finish the 2022 Hardrock Endurance Run, but that is OK. There is still a good reason to read this report. It’s full of drama, lovely photos, cool stories, inspiration, and lessons learned. In 24 years of trail and ultrarunning, she has had very few DNF’s. If you are looking for a pattern, there really isn’t one. However, there are some similarities between her three “big” DNF’s at the 2007 UTMB, 2013 Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Run, and now this year’s Hardrock.

The fact that it has taken me more than a week to write this report is a sign of how buys life is. For me, work commitments are taking a lot of energy. It’s also more difficult to write about a DNF than it is to write about a spectacular victory. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is more to be learned from the goals we miss than from the goals we hit.

These three big DNF’s had some things in common. They were all 100+ mile races, and they were all at elevation. Those two factors are enough of a challenge that anyone could fail to finish. That UTMB was her first 100 miler attempt. She stopped after 63 miles at a refuge (hut), on the climb up from Courmayeur. Besides the distance, the altitude, a single mountainous loop, and being a rookie, there were other factors. She was still breast feeding our one-year-old son Shepard and we were in a foreign country (actually three foreign countries – France, Italy, and Switzerland). She had terrible nausea and profuse vomiting that slowed her considerably.

She learned from the experience and we loved Chamonix and the other places we visited. The story had some extra drama (helicopter “rescue”) that I didn’t cover with much depth in my 2007 race report, so I plan to revisit it later this summer as we approach the 15th anniversary. She has yet to return to UTMB and given the size of the race, the hoopla around it, and her lousy experience, I’m not sure if she will. There are other courses in other places with smaller races that interest her more. The good news is that she picked an easier race for her second attempt. That was the 2008 Javelina Jundred, and it was a success, where she garnered her first finish at that distance. Javelina was a much simpler race. It was repeated loops with very little climbing and generally low elevation.

Tahoe was a tough challenge in 2013. Along with the altitude she had to deal with the heat. She made it 68 miles. For a second time, it was a bad gut with repeated vomiting that influenced her decision to stop. I wanted her to take an extended break (nap) and then continue, but she was worried about our kids, and how long it was going to take her to finish.She quit, but vowed to return. She did a year later return in 2014, and though it wasn’t easy, finished the race with a sense of accomplishment.

She has had a total of 13 attempts at the 100+ mile distance, and she has now finished 10 of them. Many of them are classic races, but only a handful have this rare combination of elevation, mountains, and extreme conditions. Among those finishes are the 2017 Hardrock Endurance Run, where she completed the counter-clockwise version of the San Juan Mountains loop course. That was a remarkable achievement for someone who hails from the sea-level state of Connecticut. She was fortunate to get into that year’s race and equally as fortunate to get back into the race for 2022. This year the race went clockwise, so she was excited to take on a different version of Hardrock. That 2017 race report has a ton of information about the race, its history, the course, and the community. Make sure you check it out. The Hardrock website is also a great resource. This year, iRunFar had great coverage, so make sure you also visit their site.

She had a great build up to this year’s race. This year was different because she did the HURT 100 in January. Technically this was her second 100 mile race of the year. That wasn’t the case in 2017. HURT is very hilly, but it is a sea level race. Hardrock is a different beast. With 33,000+ feet of elevation gain and 33,000+ feet of loss over a 102+ mile course, there aren’t too many races of that distance that compare. I won’t delve deeply into the 200+, 250+,and even longer races that are now in vogue. Those are multi-day events and though hard, they are different from the 100 mile distance in many ways. Hardrock is hard enough. It is entirely above 7,792 feet. It rises to 14,058 feet and the average elevation is greater than 11,000 feet.


After HURT, she ran MT. TAMMANY 10, Traprock 50K, and the Metacomet Ultra Traverse. She was fit. Once again, she used our Hypoxico altitude tent to help acclimate, but I don’t know how effective it is. In 2017, she also struggled, but at least she didn’t get sick. Last time, we arrived in Colorado about five days before the race. This year, she arrived in Colorado (with the kids but without me) almost nine days before the race. The goal was to get a handful more days at elevation. Also, this time, rather than spending pre-race days in the town of Durango, she stayed at Purgatory Resort in between Durango and Silverton at a higher elevation of 8,793 feet. She and the kids did hikes, some mountain biking, and other fun activities. I met them on the Wednesday before the race, which started on Friday 7/15 at 6:00 A.M.

She had a good start. After seeing her off, the kids and I drove the long way around to Chapman Gulch aid station at the 18.1 mile mark. We hiked about two miles from the town of Ophir to reach the aid station. Each time we saw her, I posted race updates on my Instagram and Facebook feeds as soon as I could get an Internet connection. After Chapman, we saw her in Telluride at mile 27.8. She still looked good, but she had to endure the first of the day’s heavy thunderstorms as she was descending to the aid station.

Apparently, she started to suffer on the climb out of Telluride. It was hot and more humid than usual. She started to struggle with her digestion, and her stomach went sour. By the time we saw her again, at mile 43.9 in Ouray, it was dark and she was hurting. We were tracking her all afternoon and I could tell that something was wrong. At first I worried that she was caught in a storm and had to hunker down, but the other runners that she had been with were still moving. Then I thought she might have stopped for an extended stay at one of the remote aid stations. She was just moving slowly. It took her a lot longer than planned and many runners had passed her on the climb up to Kroger’s Canteen and the subsequent descent through Governor’s Basin. Even the long descent on Camp Bird Road went much slower than planned. She should have been able to fly on those downhills, but her gut was bad and in an ultra, when you can’t digest food, you just get weaker and weaker. She was also having trouble hydrating. Even taking in water was a challenge as it also triggered vomiting.

When she arrived in Ouray, we had assembled our full crew and were prepared for anything. The original plan was for her to continue on her own until she got to Animas Forks at about 59 miles, and then I was to join her for the 34 mile stretch to Cunningham Gulch. The plan was for Shepard to pace her from Cunningham to the finish. It took her 41 hours in 2017 and she wanted to beat that time by a few hours. In hindsight, and given the circumstances, to have a time goal was probably a mistake. When from Connecticut, Hardrock is the type of race you simply want to finish, even if you have finished before.

When she arrived at Ouray several hours behind schedule, I was worried. Throughout the afternoon and evening, we were hammered by a series of heavy thunderstorms, but it was clearing as night fell. When she arrived, she decided to make an attempt at eating solid food but it didn’t go well. The first thing she wanted was a full change of clothes, socks, and shoes. Once that was done she tried to eat a bit and then she decided to rest. She laid down on a tarp that we had put on the ground. We wrapped her in blankets and she slept for 40 minutes. While she was sleeping, in consultation with the other members of our crew, I decided to go with her. I didn’t have my best running shoes as the original plan was to go back to our hotel in Silverton before joining her at Animas Forks around 2:00 A.M. Thankfully, I had already prepared my pack and it was in the rental car.

I had enough clothes and gear, including my lights and the old pair of running shoes that I was wearing. I felt comfortable going with her. When she awoke, I told her the plan. She insisted she was OK to go on her own, but I wouldn’t accept that. Her main concern was that the kids would be inconvenienced and that they “didn’t have their toothbrushes.” I reminded her that we were here to support her and that she should be the number one focus. We arranged for friends Amy Relnick and John Hulburd to take our kids and the rental car back to their home in Ridgway. The original plan was for me to drive the kids back to Silverton, put them to bed, and then get a ride to the Animas Forks aid station from Heather and Josh Freeman. Her total time at Ouray was 58 minutes. This was also her longest stop in 2017, but it was only 18 minutes.

We departed Ouray at 10:17 P.M. It didn’t take long to confirm that her stomach was still off and that she remained very weak. We wound our way out of Ouray and started the long climb to the Engineer aid station. It took us forever to get there and she repeatedly threw up on the way. She couldn’t ingest food or water. Even though her stomach was empty, she suffered from dry heaves and the only thing that came up was stomach acid. This was a harsh way to experience Hardrock, but she kept moving, albeit slowly, all the way to Engineer. On the way, we did hook up with Scott Slater, the other Connecticut runner. We’ve known Scott and his wife Sarah, for many years. He was hurting, but he was moving steadily. Eventually, Scott pulled away from us with the help of his pacer. We didn’t get to Engineer until 2:36 A.M. This was several hours behind schedule and I’m sure that was disappointing for Debbie.

She sat down on a log and we debated what to do. She discussed her situation with someone at the aid station, but their intention was to keep the runners uncomfortable. It was cold and there was nowhere to rest. Thankfully she had brought warm clothes as she put all of them on, including pants. They didn’t want runners to stay too long because we were a long way from additional help. She didn’t attempt to eat or drink. After 12 minutes, we got moving again. The next stretch, about 1.5 miles, steadily uphill through a huge meadow to Engineer Pass, was painfully slow. At one point, we stopped and turned off our lights in an attempt to see as many stars as possible. However, the moon (though waning) was huge and bright. That made it easier to see the trail, but harder to see the stars.

It was nice to finally reach the top of the climb after more than 5,000 feet of climbing since Ouray, but I could tell that she was demoralized. On the descent to Animas Forks her pace remained slow. All she could do was walk and I’m sure she was already thinking about stopping, but we were silent about the matter. I apologized for not having much to say, but we were tired and there wasn’t much to do other than put one foot in front of the other. It was a long downhill that wound all the way through the ghost town. We arrived at 5:56 A.M. as the sun was rising. It was beautiful, but at least four hours behind schedule. I don’t think Debbie could wrap her head around how far she had to go. She understood the distance, but I don’t think she wanted to be out there for another day.

When we arrived at the aid station, Heather and Josh were waiting for us. They spent all night there and we are so thankful for their support. Debbie checked in and went to the medical tent. She sat down in a chair and talked over her condition with the volunteer medic. I gave Debbie some space to make the decision on her own. After a few minutes, she exited the tent and confirmed that she was going to stop. As difficult as it was to agree, I supported her decision and also thought it was best. She hadn’t eaten anything in 14 hours and she was having trouble taking in water. With more than 40 miles to go, that was a recipe for disaster and eventually the time cut would be a factor. She could have tried another extended break/nap, but it was likely to be futile. The aid station captain clipped Debbie’s wrist band and that was that.

Heather and Josh gave us a ride back to Silverton, which was no easy task. The road is treacherous. Josh’s pickup truck was capable of navigating the terrain and he had driven the road before, so we were in safe hands. I drove the road five years ago as the Animas Forks aid station was close to the old aid station known as Grouse Gulch. We got back to Bent Elbow shortly after 7:00 A.M., showered, and napped. Later in the morning, Amy and John drove our vehicle and the kids back to Silverton so we could reunite with them. We hung out and cheered on the early finishers.

There were many outstanding performances. The men’s race saw a fantastic battle between Kilian Jornet, Francois D’Haene, and Dakota Jones. Kilian took the win in record fashion. The women’s race was dominated by Courtney Dauwalter who finished sixth overall and also in record time. She was followed by Stephanie Case and Hannah Green but the gaps were huge.

I mentioned how Amy, John, Heather, and Josh were so helpful. Throughout the race, we also got support from the Schomburg Family. Matt is a longtime friend and fellow adventurer. He is a United States Forest Service ranger from New Hampshire, but is on assignment in Colorado. Matt and his wife Christina and their two children Olive and Cadence, helped out in Ouray. They are huge fans of Debbie. My friend Mike McGill came to see us in Telluride. He is a mountain biker and skier and spends part of the year in the mountain town. He rode his bike down to the aid station and it was great to see him.

Everything about Hardrock is special. The Run Committee and other volunteers do a great job. There were more than 350 volunteers. The food was fantastic. The aid stations were stocked. The events during Camp Hardrock were excellent. Debbie participated in a Women of Hardrock forum as there were a record number (27) of women in this year’s field. I won’t wade into the various controversies related to the lottery. I’ll simply say that Debbie was happy to be part of the race in 2017 and again in 2022.

I mentioned Scott Slater. We had many other friends in the race and at the race. I’ll highlight the other runners with New England roots: Jeff List, Rob Lalus, and Dima Feinhaus. All three had strong races. Congratulations to all of the runners, but especially the Hardrockers, who are the official finishers. They persevered.

What’s next for Debbie? I don’t really know. We haven’t discussed it. She is exploring what might have gone wrong. Of course, we have already referenced the elevation as a huge factor. There is also some concern that she inadvertently ingested caffeinated energy drink too early in the race. We have seen caffeine have a negative effect on her in the past, and she did not want any of the stimulant until the end of the race. There is some correlation between over-doing caffeine and stomach sickness.

She and I have spoken of a “next phase” when it comes to ultrarunning an endurance sport. I’ve been needing a break after several years of challenges between the pandemic and work. I don’t have the same motivation to push and suffer. This could be a temporary pause for me, but I’m not excited for her to sign up for another big race. We are both returning to the Vermont 50 in September. It’s where we met and we have only missed one year since 1999. We have mountain biked the last three editions, but this year, we decided to run the 50K for a change of pace. I’ve run it once before and she has run it several times. She has been doing the Winding Trails Summer Tri Series and there are several weeks to go. I don’t think she is signed up for anything else.

Her recovery from Hardrock should be quick. After 120 ultras, dozens of FKT’s, and many other races, she will have to decide what motivates her. These events have brought us to some amazing places. I can’t make that decision, but given the time commitment an impact on our family, whatever direction she goes will require some discussion.

Race Results

2022 Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon

Earlier this week (Wednesday night) I did the Pat Griskus Triathlon for the 7th time since 2009, but the first time since 2015. That means I did it many years in a row before taking a long break. This is one of my favorite events. The course (especially the bike loop around Lake Quassapaug) is awesome. The start/finish/transition area is at Quassy Amusement Park.

The other great thing about this race is the vibe. The traditional mid-week summer evening timing makes for a very cool atmosphere. In the past, this race has attracted 300-400 triathletes, and many of them beginners. The race always honors all first timers with a medal. However, this year, there were only 131 finishers. That is much less than before and much less than I expected.

I know I haven’t done much triathlon racing in recent years, but it appears the numbers are down across the board and post-COVID-19, down even more. It’s a bit disappointing that more youth and young adults aren’t getting involved, but it is a very gear and money intensive sport. Even still, if you are interested in doing a triathlon, this Griskus event and the one held in June, are wonderful for beginners. Pat Griskus was a legendary athlete, so it is always great to do an event that honors his legacy.

The race was always very competitive and I’ve had some strong results in the past. This time, I was 4th overall and 2nd in my age group. Amazingly, and another sign that the sport is aging, the race was won by 58 year old David Giampietro. Kudos to him. I hope I can go like him when I get to 58. Second was Zachary Yannes and third was John O’Brien. John only beat me by eight seconds, but he was in a wave behind me so I never saw him. I would like to think that if we were racing head to head, I would have run him down. As usual, I had a terrible swim, which was responsible for most of my deficit to the top two guys. I had a decent ride and an OK run. Regardless, I’m happy with my result as I am good shape right now.

The first woman was Riann Duffy. She was followed by Crystal Holick and Celia Christake. Again, congrats to all of the finishers including those first-timers.

The bike course had a several mile section of milled road surface. That made it a few minutes slower than past races, and it hurt. The weather was beautiful. I stuck around for the awards ceremony and was home by 10:00 P.M. It was a nice night.

Race Results

2022 Chester 4 on the 4th Road Race

Today we were back at the Chester 4 on the 4th Road Race. It as the 44th running of this race and it was my 10th time running the iconic event in the village of Chester. I first did it in 2001. We don’t make it every year, but we were there last year.

The weather was perfect. In the past, this has been a sweltering sweat-fest, but today, we had moderate temperature in the high 70’s Fahrenheit with brilliant sunshine and a deep blue sky.

It looked like the event had a strong turnout as there were hundreds of runners crammed into the small town. I love this course. It weaves its way throughout the center of town and includes several tough hills (for a road race).

Debbie, Shepard, and I ran. Dahlia cheered us on. We saw many friends. Some of them are also annual participants.

We all had decent runs but more importantly had a lot of fun.

Race Results

2022 Mt. Greylock Trail Race

We returned to the Mt. Greylock Trail Race for the first time since 2019. The 2020 race was canceled and the 2021 race had been postponed to August. We missed the summer edition last year for the first time in a long time.

Starting in 1999, Debbie had strung together 21 consecutive years of racing Greylock and COVID-19 plus the non-traditional date gave us a good reason to skip. We did miss the event and that made our 2022 return even more enjoyable. This has been a Father’s Day tradition for many years. I’ve run either the long course or short course on 14 occasions since 2001.

In recent years, the kids have run the race with us. When they were little, we would bring Mrs. Schieffer along, or get help from other families. The Greylock Glen setting is spectacular. Now that they are older, we don’t need childcare.

This year, Shepard did his first 13 mile long course along with Debbie and me. Dahlia did the sampler. The weather was unseasonably cool. There was a strong breeze and the temperature was only in the low-50’s (Fahrenheit) at the base. It was even colder at the 3,489 foot summit. However, the sky was crystal clear with only a handful of fluffy clouds. With the summer solstice nearing, the sun was strong.

The trail conditions were very good. It was only wet/muddy in the last five miles. The slopes of the mountain were dry and the footing was good. Shepard had a strong climb. I stuck with him and we crested in the summit in 42 minutes or so. He paid for his early effort on the downhills.

It was a good learning experience for him. Coming off of a strong track season, he figured that his fitness would translate, but the Greylock course is gnarly and the pounding took its toll. It stuck with him and he persevered despite a few falls and a few wrong turns. I was happy to hang with him, take photos, and enjoy the views. In the end, he persevered and had a strong finish.

Debbie wasn’t far behind us. She is in her final build up to next month’s Hardrock Endurance Run. Yesterday, she did 22 miles on the East Coast Greenway, so she got some good back to back distance. The race was highly attended. Greylock continues to shrink as the marketing (especially on the Internet) is virtually non-existent. The Western Mass Athletic Club (WMAC) has historically been a wonderful club, but there doesn’t appear to be a new generation to take up the challenge of race directing and promotion. Regardless, the WMAC volunteers deserve a lot of credit for keeping this race going. Thank you!

This makes Greylock even more grassroots than ever. With a $20 pre-registration fee, a fantastic post-race lunch, and the classic course, the event is a great value. I get that you have to drive to the Berkshires, but Greylock is an iconic mountain and well worth the trip. We did see some longtime friends and it is always great to hang out with Todd Brown, who did his 25th Greylock in a row. He is known for doing the Mt. Washington Road Race/Greylock double. Yesterday’s Washington was shortened for the second time (in his years doing it) to the half-way point because of this crazy cold weather. They had snow and sleet above treeline with gusts to 65 mph. One of the two times that Debbie did Washington, it was also shortened (2002).

Today was a great day to hang out as a family. On the way back we stopped for an early supper at Pulse Cafe in Hadley. We made it home in time for the Bolton Land Trust Strawberries at Sunset event. That is another tradition.

Race Results (will be posted when available)

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.

2022 Soapstone Mountain Trail Races

Today’s Soapstone Mountain Trail Races were the first “normal” version since 2019. We (the Shenipsit Striders) had a great turnout with more than 225 finishers between the 15.5 mile long course and the 6 kilometer Sampler.

This race has always been a family affair. Most folks know that we have been associated with it for the past 22 years. This was the 18th time I’ve done one of the two races. I originally planned to skip today’s race. I was going to go, but just volunteer, spectate, and take photos. However, yesterday, I told Debbie that I needed to spend some time in the woods and figured running the race was a good way to do that. I didn’t pre-register, but was happy to pay full price this morning.

The day dawned warm and drizzly. It was quite damp after a few weeks of uncharacteristically dry spring weather. That made the rocks and roots on the trails a bit slippery. That may deterred some of the pre-registrants from showing up today, but we were still pumped about the crowd. The grounds at Reddington Rock Riding Club in Stafford were buzzing.

Debbie was the Race Director for more than 15 years, but gave up that role a few years ago. Now, we are just part of a fantastic volunteer team. Kudos to Dan Tourtellotte who took the reigns from Debbie. The course was well-marked (maybe too well marked!) and the post-race meal (Rein’s Deli veggie chili, pickles, chip, drinks, etc.) was awesome again.

After nearly catching me in 2021, Shepard opted to skip the race as his focus is on track. He had his toughest workout of the season on Saturday, so he brought his bike and used it to explore Shenipsit State Forest and cheer for runners on the course. Debbie wasn’t an official racer, but she swept the the short course and then spent some time removing course markers on the first part of the long course where the courses overlap.

This spring, she organized the Shenipsit Striders Run Club for kids. I think this is her third year doing this. She had nearly 30 registrants. She averaged more than 20 participants each Tuesday and Thursday over the last few months. The culmination of their training was today’s Sampler. About 15 of her kids came to run the race, including Dahlia.

Dahlia had a good run. She was 6th overall and 2nd female but more importantly, she had fun. I was the other family member to pin on a bib number. I also had fun. Like I said, I didn’t plan to run, so there was no special preparation. My back was a bit stiff (and now it’s stiffer), but my legs felt good. The race was fast as the front group went out hard.

I backed off and ran my own pace. I did fade a bit in the last four miles, but that’s happened many times at Soapstone. I had to let the group I was with go as they pulled away from me and finished a few minutes ahead. I was still pleased with my time. It was slightly faster than last year. As the rain stopped and the sun started to peek out from behind the clouds, it got warm. That meant it was muggy too. The conditions were a little uncomfortable, but that was OK.

Over the years, Shenipsit Forest has taken a beating. It gets heavy ATV and off-road vehicle traffic. Many of the trails and roads are rutted out. Indiscriminate logging has also left the forest ugly and barren in spots. It’s unfortunate, but the forest gets very little attention and the trails get very little (if any) maintenance. Even still, the fact that we have these woods to run is still positive.

The top three men in the long course race were James Boeding, who had a stellar sub-two hour time, Samuel Alexander, and Austin Frank. The top three women were Kassandra Spitler, Lesli O’Dell, and Molly Alexander.

I frequently joke that I “hate running.” I’m not sure when I’ll race again, but I’m sure I’ll do some more trail running this spring and summer. After all, I can’t hate it that much.

Race Results

2022 Traprock 50K

Today’s Traprock 50K really hurt. I didn’t even make it the whole way. I stopped after two laps and approximately 34 kilometers. Debbie kept going and even she suffered, but she still finished within a minute of her 2021 time and took another win.

We have a long history with Traprock, going back to its founding, so it was nice to do it again. I think this is my second time not finishing, which is OK. I felt like crud, which was about the same as how I felt half way through the MT. TAMMANY 10 three weeks ago.

I’m due for a break from competition, so this is a good point to seek a reset. I haven’t got anything else planned so that is good. In the coming months, I’ll be happy to commute to/from work (by bike), run a few days a week, and get in an occasional swim at the YMCA.

We had good weather for today’s race and the trails were in good condition too. There were a few wet and muddy sections, but you could easily navigate them and keep your feet dry. Debbie caught up to me on the second lap around the 19 mile mark as I was walking. I never really ran again. I jogged the downhills, but knew that attempting another lap would be detrimental in many ways.

There was nothing to gain, so I got to the finish line, donned some warm clothes, and hung out until she finished the race. She will likely rest her legs over the next few weeks before starting to run again. Congratulations to all of the finishers (of the 17K too) and thank you to the volunteers. Traprock packs a punch. That’s part of what makes it special.

Race Results

2022 MT. TAMMANY 10

There isn’t too much to report about yesterday’s MT. TAMMANY 10 trail race in Delaware Water Gap. This is an awesome grassroots affair with low key promotion. It’s held on a brutal low-key loop course that you do 10 times. The location is very popular with hikers/walkers of all types. We spent the day with an incredibly diverse group of people, which was very cool.

The course includes the 1,200 foot climb up the steep side of Mt. Tammany with an average gradient of nearly 20%. The descent is a little more gradual but just as gnarly. The trail is 100% rock. There are no smooth spots.

You can check out the full description here. For a taste, here is an excerpted highlight:

This will not be for the faint of heart. The 10, 10, in 10! 10 Climbs, over 10000 ft of gain, in 10 HRs. Hence the name MT. TAMMANY 10. An almost 40.0 mile run traversing one of the toughest sections of trails in the DWG area. This event is not for the faint of heart. Expect no PRs here! These will be the toughest and slowest miles most of you will ever cover. Seasoned ultrarunners accustomed to this type of terrain may still fall, get bruised, strained sprained and cut. Stay alert, stay focused, stay the course, and you will have a great day on the course. Probably one of the most satisfying ultras you will ever run. This course will have some great mountain views on the climb and majestic waterfalls along with the sound of rushing water on the decent. 

Debbie last ran MT. TAMMANY 10 in 2018. That year had some snow, which filled the space between the rocks. When I signed up, that was my memory of the downhill…smooth with a few sharp rocks. Instead, it was rough as all heck with tons of sharp rocks. There was no trail. It was just running through scree.

It hurt bad. The total distance was 37.5 miles and my GPS registered 12,641 feet of elevation gain and another 12,641 feet of elevation loss. My quads were blown. I’ll limp for days if not weeks. As for the weather, we had a little of everything, which is normal for the Northeast in March. It started out clear and cold. It got windy. It rained lightly on and off for several hours. The sun peeked out. It got windy again. It rained some more. It clouded up and got raw and cold. So, the weather was normal.

Race Director Alex Papadopoulos from Athletic Equation has a small cadre of helpers that do a great job. We saw Alex in January at the HURT 100 which he finished for the 16th time.

The race was limited to 55 entrants. On race morning, there were 50 official starters. At the end of the day, there were 28 finishers. With a loop course where your return to the (only) aid station/start/finish after the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th laps; you need a strong mindset to get this one done.

Debbie had another good day. I led her through four laps, but on the fifth, she took the lead and never looked back. She passed me on the steepest part of the descent when I was taking it gingerly. Another guy came by me like he was being chased. As he passed, he yelled, “A crazy fast chick is coming after us!” I knew exactly who he was talking about.

She put more than an hour into me in the second half of the race as I slowed to a crawl. My legs couldn’t take take the downhill and every lap, I was begging for the climb to start again. I was going faster up the hill than down the hill. I came to finish and despite a few shaky moments (mentally), I persevered.

Debbie was first woman and 11th overall. Justin Lewandowski was the first male finisher. One interesting thing happened to me during the race. About halfway through, as I was finishing the descent by the two stream crossings, a hiker yelled my last name as I ran by. I was in hot pursuit of Debbie (as I still held out hope that I could catch up), but I paused to look back and had an exchange with this person. He identified himself as my Boston University classmate from the 1990-1991 timeframe. I knew exactly who he was because we were in Army ROTC together. It was a neat moment, but I wasn’t stopping. Thankfully, he found his way to the finish line and a very nice hand written note with his contact information was on our stuff. I’m not sure if he had a connection to the race and I have no idea how he knew it was me running full tilt downhill in the woods, but I’ll find out.

Before and after the race, we stayed in a hotel in Rockaway, New Jersey. We joked that our room had the “best view.” The view was literally of Best Buy’s front entrance. Last night’s dinner was at Chipotle in Rockaway, which was basically fuel. It was 1/4 mile away across the mall parking lot from the hotel, but we still drove. I would have never made it on foot. This morning’s breakfast at Planted Eats in Montville was much better. It was a real find and in addition to our meals, we picked up a bunch of stuff to go.

On the way back to Debbie’s parents in Connecticut, we stopped to stretch our legs at Nyack Beach State Park. It was a real gem. The Palisades Park Conservancy has some jurisdiction. We walked down to the Nyack River Trail/Nyack Beach Bikeway along the Hudson River, and took it a mile north. It goes farther and I hope to return with a bike.

The stone dust covered track appears to have gone through some recent reinvestment. It was chilly and breezy along the river, but it was good to move our legs as best we could.

We had an early supper at the Schieffer’s and that capped a successful weekend. Next up: Traprock 50K on Easter Weekend.

Race Results

2022 Bolton Road Race

Today was the 44th annual Bolton Road Race. It’s our hometown race and I’ve done it nine times since 2005. It was canceled last year, but was one of the last events in 2020 before the Covid-19 lockdown took hold.

The whole family ran today’s race. I’m no longer the fastest runner in the household. I’ve passed the torch to our son, Shepard. He ran 30:32 for the five-mile event. That’s respectable for a hilly course on a cold and windy day. That was good for 6th overall and 1st Bolton resident. Debbie and I have both been first town resident in the past, so this is a nice milestone. His Bolton High School Cross-Country teammate Meghan Minicucci was first female Bolton resident.

I chased him valiantly, but never closed the gap that he established the first mile. I ran 31:06 and was two spots behind him. That’s a good result for me. My best ever time was 30:08 in 2013. I doubt I’ll run that fast again, but I expect Shepard to go sub-30 next year.

Debbie ran 37:03, good for 4th in her age group. Dahlia ran 44:07 good for 1st in her age group. We had a lot of fun. The bright sunshine took the edge off of the cold. Yesterday’s snow and ice had melted (at least from the roads).

Will Sanders dominated again, running 25:38 for the win. The first woman was Anna Shields in 30:28. Shepard chased her the entire race but she held him off for a nice result. We saw lots of friends. Many folks came out to cheer for the runners. I’m proud of the kids. They inspire me to keep going as a masters runner.

Race Results

1950’s Katahdin Trip Plan: a Wonderful Gift

Back in August, I got a message from Vianna Zimbel. She is a friend from the local endurance sports community. We both have a passion for triathlons, mountain biking, and many other outdoor activities.

She wrote:

Hi Scott- I know you have a special affinity for the AMC, and your license plate would infer Katahdin too! I have a 1952 AMC Katahdin guide book and map that I’d like to give you, if you’re interested. I’m sure the scene has evolved over 69 years! I had contacted The Book Moose in Lincoln NH to see if there was re-sale value, but because my father put our name & address on the documents, he wasn’t interested. LMK.

I wrote back confirming my love of KTAADN (Thoreau’s spelling as displayed on my plates)

I can drop off at Horst if that’s a ‘yes.’ I’m so glad these items that have been gathering dust will have a solid landing spot with you.

We made arrangements and within hours, she had swung by the shop with these incredible heirlooms.

Everything was neatly folded and packed in the same envelope that stored them for more than six decades. The contents:

  • Map of the Maine Woods
  • 1952 Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC) Katahdin Section Guide to the Appalachian Trail in Maine
  • 1973 AMC White Mountain Guide Supplement, list of 4,000 footers in New England?
  • Letter from her father Joseph to his friend Chuck. This is the special part of the package. On one side is a handwritten message to his friend and on the backside is his “Tentative check list” for their Katahdin trek.

Vianna knew a bit about the story including the fact that her father was a military veteran and outdoorsman. We both chuckled when she read me the letter, including the bit about the $29.95 sleeping bag and liner. The letter isn’t dated, but based on the date of the guide, the trip was in the early to middle 1950’s. Seeing that the White Mountain info, including the list of 4,000 footers in New Hampshire was in the envelope, her father likely continued to adventure in the New England mountains.

Katahdin is a special place for me. My Mom and her family are from Aroostook County in Northern Maine. She grew up in Upper Frenchville, and during my childhood, we made many trips north to see my Mémère and Pépère. The route was I-95 north to Route 11. Between those two roads, the westward views to Katahdin became imprinted on my mind. It was the first big mountain I ever saw and has become an important part of my life. When I was an infant, my father and mother climbed it with her siblings and it’s become a generational ritual for the Roy Family.

My Mom’s youngest sister is Therese. Aunt Terry lives in Portland, and gets back to The County several times a year. Every time she drives north (and back south), she texts me a photo of the mountain.

I visited Baxter State Park on various Scout trips in the 1980’s. I made a solo trip during college. Debbie and I were engaged at the I-95 scenic viewpoint in the year 2000 on a drive north to introduce her to my Mémère. I made a solo trip to celebrate the last day of my 30’s.

We were last there during our 2017 Mountain Katahdin Family Adventure. It was awesome to climb the mountain with Debbie and our kids. I’m most certainly headed back later this year to celebrate my 50th birthday. In addition to AMC, we continue to support the Friends of Baxter State Park, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the Maine Appalachian Trail Club.

I’m looking forward to creating more memories. I’ve never hiked the mountain in winter, so that is definitely on my bucket list. Someday, Debbie and I intend to hike the Appalachian Trail south to north and we intend to finish on Katahdin. Vianna can be assured that I will make sure her father’s mementos get passed on to another Katahdin lover in the future. After all, the mountain will be around a longer than any of us.

2022 Colchester Half Marathon

Today’s 30th edition of the Colchester Half Marathon was a chilly, windy, snowy, and icy affair. That makes it a typical Colchester “half.” Many of them have been like this. This was my sixth time, including the last three in a row, but more importantly it was Shepard’s first. Correction: it was his first on his own two feet. In the 2007 edition, when he was six months old, I pushed him in our Chariot CX-1 “jog stroller.” I guess you could say that he already knew the course.

Debbie also ran, but I’m sure she would say the best part of the day was seeing our son enjoy his post-race “runner’s high.” I did the entire race with him, which was fun. I felt strong and could have gone ahead, but I really wanted to stick with him. After I paced him up the final grinding hill, he crossed the line first (clearly) as he surged ahead at the finish. Oddly, they show me in front of him in the results, which makes me look like a bad Dad. We had consecutive bib numbers and they had to have given us the wrong ones. Bad Dad.

His goal was to break 1:30, and he just missed, running 1:30:22 on a tough course in tough conditions. He was toast after the finish and I’m sure he will sleep like a baby tonight. Yesterday’s snowstorm followed by plummeting temperatures meant that the roads were quite sketchy. They had been plowed, but some of the asphalt backroads were icy. The two dirt road sections, that total a few miles, were a challenging snow and ice covered mess with limited traction. Thankfully we did not fall.

I opted to use my Altra Lone Peak trail runners with a lugged tread. He used the Altra Escalante road shoe. Right before the race, I actually switched to my Escalante’s, but after getting some “intelligence” from other runners, I switched back to the trail shoes. I’m not as sure-footed as Debbie, or as confident on my feet as I used to be, so I played it conservatively. My quads took a pounding, but that’s what Colchester does to you.

Shepard and I stayed together and he even led for long sections. He was steady until the 11 mile mark when he started to fade. Of course, everyone fades in the last two miles at Colchester as the incline steepens and drags on forever (well to the finish). The last mile has more vertical gain than any of the previous 12. Despite my encouragement, the goal time slipped away. After a few minutes of being hard on himself, he realized that he had a good run, especially given the conditions and terrain. If he wants to run a “fast half,” there are better courses and better times of the year.

It’s been one month since Debbie ran the HURT 100 and after some rest, her fitness is starting to come around again. Colchester wasn’t anything like the Oahu jungle. Today, it was in the 20’s Fahrenheit. This was my first race of the year. I hadn’t pushed hard since my Mt. Ka’ala run, and hadn’t pinned on a number since mid-December when I did CX Nats in Chicago.

We saw a lot of friends at today’s race. I’m always impressed with the runners who do multiple loops. Some did three laps for a total of 40 miles. That’s hard core and something that doesn’t interest me. If it was all trail, I might consider it, but running distances like that on asphalt (even if there is a little dirt road), is nuts.

Colchester has awesome volunteers, and none more so than Race Director Rick Konan, who really made us laugh. Mid-race, he was standing at the top of the steep dirt road climb and yelling like a madman. Shepard and I were just behind the first woman, Brittany Telke. He told her she was first woman and then screamed (with his usual vigor) at Shep and said, “You’re second woman!” We were wearing hats and sunglasses, and Shepard’s luscious locks were spread across his shoulders. We explained to Rick that Shep was a boy, and he apologized profusely and then ran next to us for 100 yards telling us a story “from the 1970’s” about buying fancy “white shoes” that apparently made him look like a girl. I think he as trying to make Shep feel better! Even still, with all of Rick’s encouragement, I was motivated to run faster. I just wish that I could grow hair like that, so Rick cheer madly for me.

Race Results

Oahu

It’s been several weeks since we returned from Hawaii. The New England weather has been harsh and unforgiving with lots of cold, ice, and snow. Even still, the buzz from the trip hasn’t worn off. I was glancing through the photos and it warmed me (a little).

Clearly, the highly of the trip was the HURT 100, which I wrote about already. Debbie smashed the race. She has done a few interviews, including one with the entire family on the CULTRA Trail Running Podcast. The race wasn’t the only activity of our week on Oahu. We had fun in other ways and I wanted to share.

Our basecamp was at the home of a friend in Hawaii’ kai east of Honolulu. We stayed there once before, 11 years ago when I did the IRONMAN World Championships. During that trip, we spent a week on the Big Island and then a week on Oahu. It was great to return to the Kumukahi House as it had a nice renovation since we were last there. The location was perfect.

On our first full day, we hiked Mt. Olomana and then spent some time at Kailua Beach Park. Olomana was a route that Debbie first found on the Fastest Known Times site. At first she thought we would hike it as a family and then she would try for the FKT. The problem was that when we drove to the trailhead, there was a massive rainstorm. The deluge turned the trail into a muddy mess. It was way to dangerous to attempt an FKT, so we just focused on the hike, which took all the energy we had. The round trip was a blast with sections of hand over fist climbing and some serious vertical.

On the summit, we met some very nice locals who were familiar with HURT and had friends who were participating. The views were spectacular. The descent was like a slip and slide because the mud was like grease. It was warm and muggy.

After our hike, we drove over to Kailua Beach Park and spent some time sampling the sand and sea. The sun had retreated behind clouds, but the kids still had fun playing in an stream that was flowing into the bay.

On our second full day, we drove to the southwest corner of the island. This took about an hour. It was much more arid and a lot less congested. We parked at Poka’i Bay Beach. Debbie and the kids spent the morning playing in the bay and exploring the surrounding area. I did my own FKT on Mt. Ka’ala, which I also covered in a separate blog post. The out and back took me about five hours and it was hot! It felt great to swim in the bay when I got back to the beach.

After cooling off, we did a drive. We headed for Hale’iwa with a few short stops along the way. One of those stops was at the tourist trap otherwise known as the Dole Plantation. We couldn’t even get a piece fresh pineapple! Enough said. The Covid-19 related restrictions were almost comical and we did one lap of the gift shop before giving up on finding any healthy snacks. We simply got back in the car and headed for Hale’iwa.

I recalled being there 11 years ago, so we parked and then walked to the lot where several food trucks park. We had dined there before, though the trucks had changed a bit. We had some food and then visited a few of the north shore beaches in town. The waves were pretty big (15 to 20 feet) and there was a high surf warning. We watched some surfers from afar and soaked in the vibe. It had been a long day so we opted to stay in Hale’iwa and get food at a local Mexican restaurant before making the drive back to Hawaii’ kai.

Friday was the day before the big race, so we kept things a little more low key. In the morning, we visited Pearl Harbor, which was amazing. We also visited 11 years ago and the focus then was the USS Arizona Memorial. This time we did the USS Missouri Battleship Tour which was awesome. We spent more than three hours exploring the massive ship. There were so many highlights. I particularly liked the machine shop. This historic ship is massive. I still can’t get over the fact that more than 3,000 sailors lived on the boat in the 1940’s an 1950’s. The kids really enjoyed the visit and they learned a lot.

The kids wanted to see a different kind of beach, so on our way back through Honolulu, we stopped at Waikiki and spent a few hours on the beach. We scored an incredible parking spot right across the street from the beach. It didn’t even cost us a penny because the parking meter was missing. Just as we arrived, a car pulled out and we pulled in. That made my day. Waikiki is not my kind of beach, but I have to admit that the people watching was entertaining. Even still, I had enough and we returned home in the early afternoon so that Debbie could get all here gear for the Saturday race.

My HURT post covers our weekend endeavor. Sunday afternoon, after the race, my cousin Amy, her husband David, and their infant daughter visited us at the Kumukahi House. It was great to catch up with them. They have been Hawaii residents for 15 years, but Amy grew up in Connecticut and our family is very close. It was so nice to spend the afternoon with them. We got takeout and just hung out.

Monday was our last day in Hawaii as we had a late afternoon flight that would return us to Boston. The kids wanted to go to the beach again, so we got a referral to the local end of Waimanalo Beach and it was another trip highlight. It wasn’t crowded, the sand was nice, and the water was beautiful. I had a nice swim and the kids had a blast in the waves, which were small but fun.

It was hard to leave such a beautiful island behind, but work and school were pulling us back to New England. I would love to return to the Big Island. Plus, I would love to visit Maui and Kauai on a future trip. We have more exploring to do.


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Senior Night at Bolton High School: Bolton vs. Somers vs. Coventry. Made it from the middle school race in time for the boys race. Missed the girls but stayed for the festivities. #xc #running 🏃🏽‍♂️
Fantastic evening for XC at my middle school alma mater. Bolton vs. Vernon vs. Porter. @trailrunningmom is a wonderful coach! #running #xc 🏃🏽‍♀️
From #newyork Sunday for @pearljam at @thegarden to #Chicago on Wednesday for @imtschicago it’s already been a busy week with lots of planes, trains, automobiles, and jet packs! Amazing technology at the show.
#usa
A final @hardrock100run update for now and it’s a bit of a bummer. @trailrunningmom stoped at Animas Forks Aid Station just shy of the 59 mile mark. Persistent nausea and the inability to eat or drink weakened her. She arrived in Ouray in this condition and even a 40 minute nap didn’t improve the situation. She is at peace with her decision to stop and it helps that she finished this beast of a race in 2017 going the other direction. I unexpectedly joined her between Ouray and Animas Forks because I didn’t want to see her go alone. We got to suffer together for eight hours and enjoyed an amazing moonlit night. In our household there is always more to learn when you miss a goal than when you hit one.
@trailrunningmom has quite a crew assembled in Ouray at the @hardrock100run We await her arrival. From the looks of the tracking she was likely suffering in the climb and dealing with the t-storms. She might have had to hunker down because her location didn’t change for a long time. Now she appears to me hammering the six plus mile descent to the LOW point in the course in Ouray at a 7,792 feet.
Riding out the latest storm in Ouray. This weather is something else. To be a Hardrocker this year is going to take extra gumption. ⛈ @trailrunningmom appears to be moving steadily (according to the tracker) but the climb to Kroger’s Canteen slowed her. She gets a lot of downhill into Ouray so let’s hope she can keep running. We are planning a longer pit stop here including a full wardrobe change. Fingers crossed she gets here by dark around 9:00 P.M. @hardrock100run
Telluride was a blur. @trailrunningmom left the aid station around 3:20pm or so. She changed her socks (needed dry ones), got some solid food, freshened up in the “latrine”, and got moving again. We met up with Amy and John and they were a big help. Even my friend Mike, a part time Telluride resident, stopped by Town Park to cheer and assist. On to Ouray…she won’t be there for five hours or so. There are serious ⛰ ⛰ in between.
@trailrunningmom came into Chapman Gulch at 11:46am but if you are tracking then you know that. She was doing fine at 18.1 miles. Little D said Mom is pacing well but wasn’t as “exuberant” as past races. A big rainstorm just blew through and the clouds are threatening again. Next up: Telluride

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