Archive for the 'Family' Category

2022 Manchester Road Race

What a great day! The 86th running of the Manchester Road Race (MRR) was spectacular. The event has been at legendary status for a long time, but in my opinion, it just keeps getting better. It’s so cool for a big race to be in our “backyard.” Today’s weather was fantastic. It was cold (low 30’s Fahrenheit at the start), but there was no wind and the sun was shining brightly.

With such great weather, the spectators were out in force. There had to be more than 30,000 people cheering from the sides of the roads. It was awesome. The four of us ran well and for the first time in 10 years, we wall ran independently. For the last five years, I ran with one of the kids (not counting the COVID-19 virtual version), but this year I was able to give it my all. Both kids are now strong enough and skilled enough to navigate a race with more than 9,600 runners. This was Shepard’s 10th MRR and Dahlia’s 7th.

Once again, HORST Engineering sponsored Veteran’s Row.

One reason why I wanted to run this one hard was because it was my first year in the 50-54 age group. 50 is a milestone unto itself and I wanted to see how my time would compare with prior years. This was my 33rd MRR and 28th in a row. My first was in 1985. The race was much smaller then.

Debbie ran her 24th overall (and in a row). It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without running the race. Our tradition is a shared tradition. So many other families have long streaks as well. Our friend Todd Brown did his 46th MRR today, and they have all been in a row. Last night, we sat with him at the annual pasta dinner at the Elk’s Club. It was fun to reminisce. Amby Burfoot was also at dinner. He finished his 60th MRR today. That’s the most of anyone…for now. He also won the 75-79 age group for good measure.

The race is full of traditions. We walked over from Spring Street around 9:00 A.M. At 9:10 A.M. we took the annual Shenipsit Striders “team photo” in front of St. James Church. I’ve been the photographer for as long as I’ve been a Strider, which is about 22 years. After the photo, I do a warmup (in recent years with Shepard) in the streets behind the church. We wind our way past the old Cheney Mills (now apartments) and by the Cheney mansions.

This year, I went for a second short warmup and trip to the port-a-potty. I normally wait until the last moment to get into the runner corral for my seed group (under 30 minutes) just before the national anthem is sung. This is usually at 9:50 A.M. The race starts sharp at 10:00 A.M.

Today, I found Shepard in the corral. He had already lined up. There were about 150 people in front of us and more than 8,000 behind us. This year’s official registration numbers were more than 9,600 runners, though the results show 8,304 finishers. Last weekend, nearly 1,000 children participated in the Little Manchester Road Race. I’m sure some people didn’t start and some people didn’t finish the 4.748 route. Among the finishers were some great champions. The men’s race was won by Conner Mantz of Utah. He broke the course record, finishing in 21:04. The women’s winner was a repeat from last year. Weini Kelati couldn’t best her own course record, but she won again and kudos to both of them.

All of the Livingston’s had good runs today. Debbie was probably the least satisfied. She hasn’t felt fast and is searching for more speed. Of course, it’s all relative. She was still sixth in the 45-49 age group with a respectable time of 34:52. I know she was hoping for better and I’m sure she will increase her focus in 2023.

Dahlia was also a bit slower than last year, but this was her first time running on her own without a parent to support her. She did great navigating a high density field of runners and nabbed third in the under 13 age group. She was disappointed with her 36:18 but cheered up when she learned about her podium position. She is excited for 2023 when she joins the high school cross country team. I bet her time plummets.

Speaking of plummeting times, Shepard was the MVP of the family today. He absolutely crushed the race, posting a 26:14. That earned him ninth in the highly competitive 14-18 age group. Five of the guys in front of him were 18 year old college freshmen. He had a great battle with his Rockville High School rival, John Glidden. Bolton and Rockville are in the same conference, so Shep and John have battled each other for two years at events ranging from the 800 to the 5,000 (cross country). Last week, they were both honored at the Connecticut XC All-State banquet. I expect their rivalry to continue on the track this spring.

Today, John went out very hard and it looks like he paid the price after the hill. He and Shep traded spots, but eventually John got him back and held him off by two seconds. Lucas Thompson of Simsbury squeezed between them. He nipped Shep by 13/100ths of a second. Shepard’s time was far better than my best, which was 27:00 in 2009.

I’ve slowed, but I’m still proud of my ability to run fast. Today I ran 27:43 and that got me second in the 50-54 age group. I was well behind Brian Murray of Coventry who ran 27:02, but I’ll take it. I did several morning workouts over the last month in an attempt to hone some speed. I haven’t run much on the road, but having done this race so many times, I know exactly how to pace it. I felt good today and this was a good time. I ran a second slower in 2016 and hadn’t put up a significantly faster time since 2012, 10 years ago. I went out hard but not too hard. I ran the hill steadily. I kept Brett Stoeffler in site until the top, but that’s when I started to falter. The uphill is my strength and I usually struggle from the top of the hill until the 3.5 mile mark. I kept things in check and lost a few spots, but was able to mostly hold my ground. I was able to accelerate a bit towards the end, but lost a few more spots on Main Street. Regardless, I’m pleased with how my 50 year-old body responded. It was a bit of mind over matter.

There is so much more I could write about the race, but I’ll stop here. I love this race. My family has come to love this race. We saw so many friends today. One friend I’ll mention is Eric Fleming. He and his wife Julie brought their three kids down from their home outside Boston. Eric grew up in Manchester and we were HORST Cycling teammates dating back to 1997. He texted me this morning before the race and we were able to connect in front of St. James. It was so nice to see him.

My legs are sore from the pounding they took on the pavement, but I’ll be buzzing for the next few days. The pain is worth it.

Race Results

Full Replay – TV Coverage

2022 Secret Squirrel CX

Secret Squirrel is one of my favorite cyclocross races. It has a great vibe. Here is the good and bad from the 2022 edition. Shepard and I have raced this modern New England classic on several occasions. We returned this year, but only he raced. I was the driver, mechanic, and spectator.

Some good things about this race include the fun and challenging course. With the right mountain bike (light and fast) you have an advantage over a cyclocross bike, but cross is cross and it should be raced on a proper cross bike. The Raynham, Massachusetts course is undulating, tight, twisty, sandy, and full of roots. There is very little open space to ride fast. I wish they added more field riding, but it is what it is and that’s why it’s Secret Squirrel.

The under 19 Junior race was at 8:30 A.M. which was early for us. Plus the race was $30. The races was only scheduled for 20 minutes. The drive from Connecticut was an hour and 45 minutes. For these reasons, it was a bad value.

When I registered Shepard, there were only nine boys signed up for the U19 race. The better value today was the Amateur Men field. It was a 10:30 A.M. start and was $45 which made me cringe. That’s expensive, especially when you consider that it was sold out with 110 riders. At least the race was scheduled for 40 minutes.

110 is a lot of riders on a tight course. I think there were a few other big fields as well. Shepard started in the fifth row and had a lot of ground to make up. He had an OK start, but it was so log jammed that he lost a minute and 44 seconds to the leader on lap one. That’s tough. The hole shot was very important today.

He steadily worked his way up in the field and finished 5th. This was his first cyclocross race of the season. His focus has been cross country running and he had a very good season. Thankfully, he had fun and I loved watching him.

I was disappointed that they only went three deep for prizes. They took in nearly $5,000 for this one field of 110 riders and only gave merchandise to the top three finishers. That was a bummer.

Secret Squirrel was still fun. Even though we didn’t stick around, we saw some friends. Teammate Tom Ricardi also raced. He said that his son Cole joined him too. That’s cool. Like Shepard, it had been a long time since he raced cross. I also had fun cheering for Barry Ralston with his wife Carolyn and daughter Hunter. Their family also shares a passion for endurance sports. For a moment, I wished that I was racing, but then the feeling passed. I didn’t even bring a cross bike with me. Watching was good enough.

Race Results

Connecticut Cross Country: 2022 State Open Championships & Middle School Championships

Today marked the end of the cross country (XC) season, at least for our family. It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the middle schoolers at Bolton Center School (BCS) and the high schoolers at Bolton High School (BHS). We have been at the center of this action. Debbie is the BCS coach, Dahlia is an 8th grader on the team, and Shepard is a sophomore at BHS.

Yesterday was the high school CIAC Open Championships at Wickham Park. The race was six days after the Divisional Championships on the same course. This was Shepard’s first time competing at the top level. I did the Open 33 years ago in 1989 when my high school team qualified and competed in the event. I was stoked that Shepard got this opportunity.

This was the most competitive field he has been in. The fastest teams and individuals came together and there were 177 finishers. Shepard was 61st. His time was a bit slower than last week, but it was unseasonably warm with the temperature at least 15 degrees warmer than last week. His place relative to his peers was very good. It was also very good relative to the other underclassmen. This bodes well for 2023. He has aspirations to improve and I’m sure he will.

Shepard’s teammate, Silas Gourley, ended his high school XC career on a high note, finishing 74th. They have gotten great coaching from Paul Smith and Matthew Ferraro. It was awesome to see the top runners all compete against each other. I found myself cheering for the other schools in Bolton’s league and division. Those are the runners we see throughout the season. Most are small schools like Bolton and seeing their achievements is inspiring.

The Open Championships is very different from the other races these boys have run. With so many fast runners who are evenly matched, you have to be comfortable with the bumping and jostling that are part of the game on a tight course. The best of the best typically go out fast, get some space, and hold on. The danger is if you go out too hard, you can blow up badly.

Clearly, that happened to some of the boys we know. The flip side is that if you go out too slow, you get boxed in, and can never make up the ground. Shep feels like he could have gone out quicker. He was able to pick it up in the second half of the 5K course. In the end, he was happy with his race and grateful for the experience. That should pay dividends in the future.

Today, we were back at Wickham Park for the third time in a week for the Middle School Championships. Yesterday’s Open Champs was a relative intimate affair with about 180 boys and 180 girls. Today, There were more than 2,200 runners split almost evenly between boys and girls. Add in the coaches, families, and spectators, and you have a lot of people in the park. Even the “Mom & Pop Race” had more than 100 runners. Shepard, Debbie, and I all ran the 1.7 mile race, which was held on the B race course.

Dahlia and the BCS team competed in the girls A race in which there were about 400 starters. They did the 2.3 mile course. She finished a very respectable 51st, just missing out on the medals by one spot. I think this is awesome and I know it will fuel her for the future. She was disappointed for a few minutes, but ultimately, was quite happy with her result. Next year, she will join her brother at Bolton High School. Debbie and her assistant coach, Christa Parisien, have done a great job sharing their love of running with their athletes.

It’s been a very busy summer/fall. Shepard had practice six days a week since late August. Debbie and Dahlia had practice four days a week. Their meets were weekly with a handful more on the weekends. We are looking forward to a break over the next month as we transition to winter activities. The downtime and rest will be welcome, but I’m sure we will miss the joy of XC.

Race Results CIAC Open Championship (High School)

Race Results Middle School Championships

2022 CIAC Cross Country Divisional Championships

Today was the Connecticut XC Divisional Championships at Wickham Park in Manchester. Wickham is my favorite park, autumn is my favorite season, and I love cross country running, so this was a near perfect day.

I dropped Shepard off at Bolton High School around 8:40 A.M. so that he could take the bus with the team. Then I rode to work at HORST Engineering, which is is only 1.5 miles from the park. After some time at the shop, I rode over to the park to meet up with Debbie and Dahlia.

The weather was spectacular for both running and spectating. This last weekend in October didn’t disappoint. When I was running cross country more than 30 years ago, these races were referred to as the “Class Championships.” In Connecticut, schools are divided by size (number of student enrolled at each school). There are six divisions, so the divisional championships hosted 12 races.

Girls Divisions:

  • LL Division – 685 and over
  • L Division – 561 – 684
  • MM Division – 406 – 560
  • M Division – 325 – 405
  • SS Division – 227 – 324
  • S Division – Up to 226

Boys Divisions:

  • LL Division – 738 and over
  • L Division – 580 – 737
  • MM Division – 422 – 579
  • M Division – 335 – 421
  • SS Division – 235 – 334
  • S Division – Up to 234

Bolton High School is one of the smallest schools in the state, so we are in S Division. The top teams and individuals in the divisional championships go on to race in the Open Championships. The State Open is next Friday afternoon. Team qualifiers include the top two teams in each division plus the eight fastest (cumulative time) teams who didn’t qualify by placement.

Individual qualifiers include the top 12 finishers in each division plus the 30 fastest finishers who didn’t place. Runners who are part of a qualifying team are not removed from the results. The rules are straightforward, but you have to crunch some numbers to get to the full qualification list.

The Bolton boys and girls teams gave it their all. They have had a good season and this was the most important race of the year. Coach Paul Smith and his assistants, including Coach Matthew Ferraro, have done a fantastic job training the runners. Coach Smith has more than 20 years of experience and has his team’s program dialed in. His track record is stellar. Last year, the girls set the bar high by finishing second overall and qualifying for the State Open, but several top runners graduated. Today they were a respectable fifth place. The runners have trained so hard.

The boys have been consistently good all season. They were second in last week’s NCCC League Championships behind Suffield High School. We knew coming into today’s race that they had an outside chance at finishing second and qualifying for the Open Championship. Shepard follows all the results and statistics and his assessment was that Immaculate and Hale Ray were the favorites among the 21 Class S schools.

Immaculate’s results pointed to them having a lock on the top spot, but there was always a chance Bolton could have a great day couple with an off day for Hale Ray. In the end, that didn’t happen and the boys finished third, which is still a great accomplishment. Several of the boys got personal bests on the tough Wickham Park course.

This was Shepard’s second year on the Bolton team. As a freshman, he ran well, but didn’t qualify for the State Open. Last year, he went to watch his teammate Silas Gourley, who qualified. This year, the Open was one of Shepard’s big objectives. He has put in a lot of work to get faster. Both Silas and Shepard had excellent races today. They went out strong and were just off the front group. Eventually the top two runners, Michael Kraszewski of Hale Ray and Seamus Reidy of Immaculate, pulled away.

Shepard and Silas found themselves battling for third place with a group of five other runners who had separated themselves from the others behind. We were able to watch them at five points on the course plus the finish. Wickham is an awesome venue for XC. Parker Cook of Old Saybrook, Matthew Kraszewski of Hale Ray, and Ben Campion of Somers pulled ahead in the last mile, but Shepard and Silas kept them close. In the end, Shepard closed the gap a little, held off the chasers, and finished 6th. Silas had a good kick and hung on for 9th. Shepard’s time of 17:12 was his personal best for a 5K cross country course.

He was thrilled with his result. He and Silas did the best they could to help the team finish as high as possible. Both boys earned All-State honors and qualified for next Friday’s Open Championship (4 November). They will be back at Wickham Park on the same course at 2:45 P.M. The girls will precede the boys at 2:00 P.M.

All of this running brought back incredible memories for me. I was anxious all week and before the race, I was more nervous than before any of my recent races. I last ran in the State Open in 1989, which was a magical year for my high school cross country team. I really wanted Shepard to experience the same excitement. It would have been awesome for the entire team to qualify, but they will try again next year.

In 2019, on the 30th anniversary of East Catholic’s Divisional Championship win and Open Championship finish (third), I wrote about that season. This afternoon, I shared the blog post with Shepard. He is stoked to be competing next Friday with some of the best runners in Connecticut. I’ll be watching and cheering (loudly).

Divisional Championships Results

NCCC Championships Results (Boys Varsity)

NCCC Championships Results (Girls Varsity)

Mount Tom Trail Run

Debbie and I spent some quality time outside today. We’ve been doing outdoor adventure together for 23 years, so today’s trail run “date” was a mini-celebration of our time together.

She scouted a newish FKT on the New England Trail (NET) from the Manhan Rail Trail in Easthampton south to Whiting Street Reservoir and back. We were aiming to beat 3h8m4s and we are lucky that we did 2h57m09s. This morning when we checked the route on the FKT site, that was the fastest women’s time.

However, when we checked Strava after our effort, we realized that someone had just put up a faster time, 2h57m27s on October 2nd, a week ago. It hadn’t been uploaded until today. By the time we got home and logged back in, it was there. Thankfully, we hammered the final descent of Norwottuck.

The entire ridge up and over Mount Tom is rugged. Last year, we took the kids for a hike on this section of the NET, and of course, in 2020, we did the entire trail, albeit at a much slower pace. Today, it was fun to revisit this section and hammer it.

The weather was spectacular. It was perfect running conditions with bright sunshine and a cool temperature. The leaves are looking great and though some have been falling, the trail was not completely covered with them. The dirt was moist. When we were here in 2020, it was hot and dry. This time, the footing was better.

I was strong on the uphills and Debbie led the way going down. We both had fun cruising around the Whiting Street Reservoir. We hit the halfway mark (7.5 miles) in 1h36m, but the second half ran much quicker because we came back in 1h21m. The reservoir is at 400 feet, whereas the start/finish at the rail trail is at the same elevation as the Connecticut River, which is basically sea level.

Debbie took a hard fall on the gravel road with 1/4 mile to go. It was a real bummer to crash that late in the run, but she stepped off the edge of the gravel, twisted her ankle, and slammed her already tender knee into the ground. She hit her elbow too. Recovering and getting going again cost a little time, but in the end, we had enough to spare. Despite the fall, we had a lot of fun and followed up the run with a nice lunch at Nourish in Northampton.

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 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


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Some sights and sounds from yesterday’s Secret Squirrel CX. #cyclocross #teamhorstsports @horstcycling #crossspikes #teamhorstjuniorsquad
Connecticut XC State Open Championships #running #cc #crosscountry #trailrunning
Fantastic day in #hartford at the #aerospacealley trade show. The morning workforce development session included 40+ schools and 1,200+ students. Crossing the #connecticutriver at sunrise and then at sunset was spectacular.
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.
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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.

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