Archive for the 'Sport' Category

2018 Traprock 50K (and 17K)

We had glorious weather for yesterday’s Traprock 50K at Penwood State Park in Simsbury, Connecticut. After a spring with less than stellar weather, yesterday was a welcome respite. I’m wrapping this post up on Sunday morning, and I’ve already been out for a bike ride. The temperature is back in the low-30’s (Fahrenheit), the wind is whipping, and snow is in the forecast. So, was Saturday’s awesome weather an anomaly? The temperature was warm, the deep blue sky was cloudless, and brilliant sunshine shined through the still leafless trees. We want more of that.

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Our family hadn’t been to Traprock since 2014, a rare four year layoff from a race we love. Debbie first did this one back in 2010 when it was founded by friends Kevin Hutt and Steve Nelson. Kevin remains the Race Director, and he has a good team of volunteers to assist him.

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The Shenipsit Striders have always helped, whether it be directly or indirectly. Today, our club had a sizable turnout for both the three lap 50K (more like 33 miles) and one lap 17K (more like 11 miles).

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The hilly course got some modifications since we last ran it. Now, it has more singletrack, more hills, and it’s a bit longer. There is about 6,500 feet of elevation gain and 6,500 feet of loss. The changes mean that the course is quite a bit slower than it used to be, but it is still very runnable. This is the second year since the course was modified, and it was the first time running this version. for Debbie.

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We saw so many friends today. I think the sunshine drew them out. Some even came south from snowy New Hampshire. Great weather has a healing effect as evidenced by the shorts, short sleeves, and smiles.

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Traprock kicked off the 2018 Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series.

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It was a long day for the kids and me. Dahlia helped out at the finish line aid station, and had a lot of fun sharing stories with her fellow volunteers. Shepard brought his mountain bike and explored the park. I took a lot of pictures.

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Debbie didn’t need a whole lot of support, but we remained near the finish line to cheer her on during each of her laps. A few times, I walked up the Metacomet Trail to get a better vantage point.

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After a while, Charles Merlis joined me and we had a fun conversation about running, acting (another one of his passions), and life. Earlier in the day, Charlie had run a 5K race in Avon, and came out to Penwood to cheer on his son Josh, and Josh’s girlfriend Michelle Pratt. Charles always makes me smile. He is a member of the Run 169 Towns Society, joined Debbie for her 40th birthday run, and is a regular at Shenipsit Striders races. It’s hard to miss Charlie. He is usually shirtless, wearing a tutu, and wearing wings.

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It was nice to chat with friends new and old. Kevin’s Dad, Ernie Hutt, was the official starter. He got a nice ovation at the start, and revealed a surprise, that Kevin’s Mom was going to run the race. It was a joke, and he made everyone laugh.

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Brian Rusiecki took the win in 4:58:25. He was pretty toasted at the finish and took a few minutes to relax before he returned to chat about the race. He said that on his third and final lap, he was hot. I’m sure everyone was hot. The race claimed quite a few victims and the DNF rate was high. There were 68 finishers with the last person finishing in 9:54:43. That’s a long day on the trail! Brian was followed by Koby Nelson and Brandon Baker, but with a 16 minute difference between first and second, he was never seriously threatened.

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The women’s race was much tighter. Coming into the end of lap two, the aforementioned Michelle Pratt had a narrow lead over past winners  Kristina Folcik, and Stacey Clark. Kristina left the aid station first, but Michelle and Stacey were within a minute of her, but she extended her lead on the first major climb, and the gap grew from there.

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All three of them were running strongly, but things sorted themselves out over the last 11 miles, and Kristina took the win in 5:48:16. Michelle finished in 6:02:35. Stacey was only four minutes behind her, and looked strong despite the heat. Debbie had a decent race, finishing in 6:52:27. This was her second 2018 ultra, after last month’s Mt. Tammany 10 in Delaware Water Gap.

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Kevin and the Traprock crew have been strong supporters of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, with a history of generous contributions to CFPA and other conservation organizations. CFPA is the nonprofit that created and maintains Connecticut’s 825+ mile Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails system, including the New England Trail, of which the Metacomet Trail is a key piece.

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Traprock lowered their fees for 2018, with entry only $35, a relative bargain in the fast-growing ultra segment of the running world. It was no frills with three adequately stocked aid stations, post-race pizza (including the vegan variety), and no swag. Nearly 300 runners registered for the sold-out event.

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Next up in the Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series is the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race on Sunday 20 May. This will be Debbie’s 15th year as Soapstone’s Race Director. It is also a great value, so if any Traprockers want to experience a race that is another great value ($25 pre-registration for the 24 kilometer long course and $12 for the 6 kilometer short course Jerry Stage “Sampler”), join us in Somers. The post-race feast features food from Rein’s Deli, and “cooking” by my mother-in-law, Barbara. How can you beat that?

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Soapstone isn’t an ultra, but it is one of the legendary New England trail races. This is year number 34 for the event, a stalwart in the New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series. Only the NipMuck Trail Marathon (which turns 35 in October) is older, and still continuously running.

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The Shenipsit Striders also promote NipMuck, and this year, to honor the 35th, there will be a 35 mile version of this classic. Sadly, this year, NipMuck conflicts with the Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run, which is prone to happen every six years or so.

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I won’t lie. I’m partial to east coast trail running, and particularly biased to the northeast, and New England where we have the most challenging terrain in the country. Yes, I said I was a fan.

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We have a great community, great races, and awesome trails. The season just got started, and it’s already been memorable.

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Race Results

SmugMug Photo Gallery

2018 Hop Brook MTB Race

The 2018 mountain bike season kicked off in style at the Hop Brook MTB Race in Middlebury, Connecticut. Once again, the crew from the Laurel Bicycle Club and D’Anniello’s Amity Bicycles did a fantastic job organizing this early season event.

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The weather was kind of what you would expect for Southern New England in April in 2018. It was raw, cold, and blustery. The sun poked out from behind the clouds on a few occasions; but then the clouds covered it again, and the wind to kick up.

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By late afternoon, it was just plain miserable and no one could stay warm. It may have been harder to spectate than to race. Still, the racing was tough as most riders were competing for the first time in the new year.

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That didn’t stop a lot of people from getting on their mountain bikes and riding on the rugged Hop Brook Lake Recreation Area course. Team Horst Sports was well represented in the both morning events and the afternoon events.

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We had several Masters racers in the Category 1 and Category 2 fields.

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Later in the day, the CCAP Team Horst Junior Squad had five boys race in the Category 2 and Category 3 Juniors race. Sean Rourke led the way with a strong finish on the challenging terrain. Shepard Livingston, Cole Ricardi, Bodain Chenail,  and our newest junior teammate, Weston, all had great races.

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It was awesome to see so many kids out there. Many of the faces were familiar. We know many of them from the cyclocross community. We last saw some of them in December, when the Elm City CX, the last CT Series of CX race was held in New Haven, and also hosted by the Laurel Bicycle Club and D’Anniello’s Amity Bicycles.

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It was fitting that they promoted the last cross race of the season and the first mountain bike of the new season. I think the weather was better in December!

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Anyway, we will be back at it with the mountain biking in two weeks at Winding Trails for the Fat Tire Classic.

Race Results

SmugMug Gallery Photos

Hong Kong

It’s been five weeks since Debbie and I visited Hong Kong. Upon our return, I’ve had no time to sort photos and reflect on what a cool adventure it was. When in Asia, I had the time to post about our Lantau Island hike.

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However, over the course of three days, we packed in a bunch of other sightseeing. It was our first time in Hong Kong and it is a splendid city full of modern infrastructure, history, and parks.

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We only scratched the surface on this visit, but it proved to be a welcome stopover on our trip to Singapore for the YPO Global Leadership Conference.

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To get to Hong Kong, we took a direct flight from Boston on Cathay Pacific Airlines. Cathay is a fine airline. I recalled doing a case study on the company in business school. We left late in the evening on Tuesday and arrived early on Thursday morning. There was a 13 hour time difference. The day we arrived, we recovered from the trip and caught up on email and reading.

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On Friday morning, Debbie went for a run and I went for a swim in the hotel pool. Then we took the fairy to Lantau Island and did the hike. That took all afternoon and we got back late at night.

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On Saturday, Debbie met up with our friend Rod, who joined her for a trail run on the Hong Kong Trail, another one of the Hong Kong area’s long distance hiking trails. She did a 20 mile section in the southeast corner of the island.

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Rod broke off after 10K and she continued on her own. She eventually ended up on the Dragon’s Back and ran up and over to Shek O Beach. When she started the run, I headed for the bus depot. I took a bus to Repulse Bay. Rod had explained that this was a good open water swimming spot. He told me that there would be “shark nets” so it was safe. I thought that was comforting! He also noted that in March, I wouldn’t find many others in the water.

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That part was true! There were many people on the beach, but I think there were only three or four other people in the water. I was the only one who was actually swimming for exercise. I ended up doing two laps of the enclosed swimming area.

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There was a huge changing room with showers, so I was able to wash off following my swim, but the fresh water was not much warmer than the salt water in the bay. From there, I took another bus to get closer to the Dragon’s Back trailhead. It was late morning, but the temperature had remained cool.

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I struggled to figure out the bus routes,  and ended up in the village of Stanley, which was farther south, but actually the opposite direction from which I needed to go. I had to get north and then east in order to cut across a short peninsula. So, I flagged down a taxi and told the driver where I wanted to go.

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It was the first time she had ever been to this part of the island, so we both enjoyed the adventure on the steep, narrow, and winding mountain roads. At times, it was so narrow that only one vehicle could pass. There were rock cliffs on the left (the side of the rode that you drive on in Hong Kong) and steep drop offs to the right. Crazily, they allow full size buses on these roads, so several times, we had to squeeze over even farther to the left in order to let one by.

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I used my iPhone and Google Maps to navigate to the right spot. I felt safer when I got out of the car. From there, I messaged Debbie and she called. She was at Shek O Beach, which was perfect. She had gotten to the spot where I was standing, about 90 minutes earlier, so she continued on the trail up and over the Dragon’s Back.

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I was still hobbled by my broken leg and she warned me that the trail was steep and rocky. I told her I would meet her at the top and then we would turn back together. So, we ascended the Dragon’s Back from opposite directions. It was her second time.

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The trail was crowded with tourists and locals. When I say crowded, I mean it was jammed with people. The closest thing to compare it to would be climbing Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire on an early summer day. It was far from a wilderness experience. Also, the air was thick with smog and damp clouds, so there were zero views. Supposedly, this trail can offer fantastic sights, including the entire Hong Kong skyline, but I couldn’t see a thing.

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I got to the top and did 15 minutes of people watching before Debbie came up the trail on the back side. It was great to see her. We took some photos and then descended the trail back to where I started. From there, we caught a bus to Shau Kei Wan, an MTR station. MTR is Hong Kong’s main transit authority and the trains and subways are clean and efficient. We took the train back downtown and were back at the hotel in the mid-afternoon.

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That night, we had a fantastic meal at Pure Veggie House, a fantastic restaurant that was walking distance from the hotel, but to get there, we took a short cab ride. We had to get there by 6:00 P.M. for an early reservation. They said that they were sold out for the night. They squeezed us in and we had a great time. With less time constraint on the return trip to the hotel, we walked and wound our way through Hong Kong Park, one of the beautiful green spaces.

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On Sunday morning, we went for a swim in the hotel pool and then packed up. Our Singapore flight was around 3:00 P.M., but we needed to get back to the airport on Lantau Island shortly after noon. Once we were packed, we ventured back to Hong Kong Park to explore the Aviary along with the Zoological and Botanical Gardens. We were pressed for time, and want to return so that we can visit the butterfly garden.

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Getting to the airport was a snap. We were actually able to check our bags in at Hong Kong Station before boarded the train. That was really cool. We checked them in at the train station and didn’t see them again until Singapore. What makes this so amazing is that the airport is 30 kilometers from central Hong Kong, so they securely load your baggage there and transport it to the airport on a separate train car, where it is securely transported to the correct plane for the trip to your final destination.

We enjoyed our short stay in Hong Kong, but there is so much more to see. We only passed through Kowloon, and didn’t have the time to stop and explore. There are also other trails to run/hike on. We took off and after a three and a half hour flight, we were in Singapore by 7:30 P.M.

2018 Finally Spring 5K!

It had been five years since we last went to the Finally Spring 5K hosted by the Manchester Running Company. I think its been five years since it last felt like spring. Actually, in 2013, it was pretty cold too!

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Today, the sun struggled to shine through the clouds, and the temperature was barely above freezing. Dampness hung in the air after yesterday’s snowstorm. It was perfect conditions for running!

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The course is slightly different from when we last ran it, but still includes the trails in the watershed that feeds the Howard/Porter Reservoir. It’s a fun place to run or ride.

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Debbie, Dahlia, and Shepard all lined up for this one. Dahlia did the one mile kids race along with 24 other children. It was a nice turnout on a chilly day.

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Being so close to home, this was a fun race to do. I enjoyed watching, taking photos, and saying hello to friends.

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The Shenipsit Striders and Silk City Striders had good turnouts. The Manchester Running Company has a strong team of their own. It was also great to see folks from the Hartford Track Club and the Mohegan Striders. With the Boston Marathon a week from Monday, there were probably a few holdouts.

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Morgan Kennedy took the win for the men. He was chased by Jon-Paul Mandelburg and Samuel Alexander.

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Elizabeth Fengler took top honors for the women. She was followed by Darby Dustman and Linda Yamamoto. Linda told me she got her one and only “trail race” done for the year. Truth be told, the trails on this course are pretty mild. This isn’t 7 Sisters, or even the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race, which are both coming up in May.

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Debbie and Shepard both got prizes in their age groups, which was cool. Nothing beats a short race that is so close to home. We were back at the house by noon, with the rest of the day open for work and play.

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Debbie is the Race Director for Soapstone, which is part of the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series. The series kicks off a week from today with the Traprock 50K. We will be there!

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Soapstone is also part of the New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series.

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So, if you liked these trails, come out and try some of the races in these series. If you missed today’s race, there are many more for you to choose from.

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Race Results (1 Mile Kids Race)

Race Results (5K)

SmugMug Gallery Photos

2018 MT. TAMMANY 10

Yesterday, Debbie ran the MT. TAMMANY 10 in New Jersey, for the first time in its five-year history. She learned about the race from our friends at Mountain Peak Fitness, who have a page on their website dedicated to this difficult trail ultra.

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This was her first ultra since last August’s Cascade Crest 100. She did great. The format is unique. The start/finish and only aid station is at the Kittatinny Point Visitors Center in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The aid station is at a pavilion about 1/3 mile (on road) from the trail head at the Dunnfield Parking Area on the other side of Interstate 80, which also cuts through the Gap. There is a 3.5 mile counter-clockwise loop. You take the Red Dot trail to the 1,526 foot summit of Mt. Tammany,. Then you connect to the Blue-Blazed Trail for most of the descent. You parallel beautiful Dunnfield Creek and then you briefly connect with the Appalachian Trail, before entering the back side of the parking lot. You do 10 loops of the course, including the 1,200 foot ascent of Mt. Tammany. On every even loop (laps 2, 4, 6, 8, 10) you return to the start/finish to check in. The race relies on the honor system. You have to count your own laps.

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The total mileage ends up being between 38+/- with 12,000 feet of elevation gain and 12,000 feet of descent. That’s substantial for a race of this distance and the per mile gain puts it up there with some of the more hilly ultras in the country, and certainly on the east coast. The trails are rugged with lots of rocks, requiring some scrambling. The snow and ice from three weeks of Nor’easters just added to the challenge, though some veterans said that the presence of deeper snow on the descent permitted faster running. Some folks opted to use traction devices on their feet, but Debbie went without. She also started the race without her poles, but during the second half, she used them on the uphill section of the course.

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The goal is to complete the race in 10 hours or less. Well, the real goal is just to finish. It took Debbie 10:21:13, which is still a great time. There were 35 official finishers. 22 people didn’t finish, or missed the time cut. The race is meant to be small, partly because this is a popular hiking trail, and it was crowded with visitors. More runners would have only added to the traffic. It was cold and breezy, but the sky was clear and bright sunshine helped the morale. That sun is what drew many visitors to the park on a (very) early spring day. The views from Mt. Tammany, especially on the climb, are spectacular and another reason for all of the hikers.

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We have always been friendly with members of the New York/New Jersey trail running community, and frequently venture beyond New England to do races in their region. Last year, Debbie ran Manitou’s Revenge, and that’s where she first heard about this race from Ben Nephew, a veteran of both events. The highlands of northwestern New Jersey on the Pennsylvania border, have fantastic terrain and trails. We have explored it some, but need to visit here more. Six years ago, we went to the AMC’s Mohican Outdoor Center, and passed through the Gap. When I was in the Boy Scouts, I did a 50 mile canoe trip on the Delaware River.  I recall that our guide hailed from nearby from Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

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After such a long layoff, Debbie needed to get back in the game. This early season race will help build her fitness as she looks to tackle half a dozen ultras in 2018. This will be more quiet year for her. 2017 was a big year with Manitou’s, Hardrock, Cascade Crest, and several other ultras. She is planning a series of races in the 50K to 100K distance, but likely no 100 milers. She gave her body and mind a long rest after last year. Over the last six months, she has mixed in more cycling, and more cross-training.

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On Thursday 24 May, our entire family will be at the REI store in West Hartford, Connecticut, for a presentation on the Hardrock adventure. If you want to hear about this amazing race, join us. Debbie, the kids, and I will all be speaking and sharing our excitement for trail running. We will have Hardrock photos, gear, and memorabilia to show and discuss.

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This week was really busy. It was our first full week back after our Hong Kong/Singapore trip. It culminated with our daughter’s participation in the Bolton Center School Variety Show on Friday night. After the show, the four of us piled into my car, and drove to Debbie’s parents house. The kids stayed with them because there was a second show on Saturday afternoon. Debbie and I got up at 3:00 A.M. and drove the 2 hours and 45 minutes to the race.

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The start was at 6:30 A.M., just as the sun was coming up. Some people used headlamps, but she didn’t bother. I walked one lap, taking photos of the runners and the views. Then, I went for a bike ride on Old Mine Road, which parallels the Delaware River on the New Jersey side. It goes north for about 35 miles through the National Recreation Area and adjacent Worthington State Forest. After a few hectic weeks at work, I needed some time in the saddle, and also in the woods, so this trip was perfect. I took the road north for about 13 miles. I didn’t go too far because I wanted to make it back in time to catch her at the finish of lap eight. I’m taking it slow in my comeback since breaking my leg in January. After I helped her in the aid station, I rode around some more, including a trip across the bridge to the Pennsylvania side of the gap. I explored a bit more through the Gap, before returning to the trailhead to see her finish her 9th lap.

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After that, I changed up, and waited for her to finish. She was in good spirits, got to catch up with several friends, and make some new friends too. Garry Harrington came down from New Hampshire, though in recent years, he has spent a lot of time on the road out west, traveling from race to race. We saw him at Hardrock and Cascade Crest, so that’s three in a row! Kehr Davis (who won Manitou’s in 2017) had a fantastic run, taking first among the women. She was followed by Kathleen Cusick. On the men’s side, Jay Lemos and Steven Lange had a race-long battle, with Steven prevailing.

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It was great to see Julian Vicente and Elizabeth Azze from Mountain Peak Fitness. These trails are in their backyard. Both hail from nearby New Jersey communities. Alex Papadopoulos is the passionate Race Director who hosts the race. His organization, Athletic Equation, Inc., based in Virginia, promotes several ultras that are part of a series, hosts trail running travel adventures, offers coaching, and sells gear. We invited Alex to come run the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race, the Shenipsit Striders race that Debbie has directed for 15 years. I think we can convince him to visit and run it in the future. We told him to bring his whole family.

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One nice touch was that each finisher received a rock mounted on a wood trophy. The rock is symbolic of these rugged trails. The fun part was that Alex had plaques pre-printed with each runner’s name. So, she got to choose the rock that appealed to her, and he mounted the customized plaque on the spot. That was cool. It’s not our only rock trophy. I’m pretty sure that the Shenipsit Striders started that “trend” nearly 30 years ago.

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We were in the car and on the road by 6:00 P.M. After a few stops for gas and to stretch our legs, we were back at her parents’ house by 8:30 P.M., in time to visit with the kids. We were both famished, and after eating a late supper, it was lights out for me. Apparently, Mt. Tammany was tough on both the runners and the crew! Next up for Debbie is the Traprock 50K, the first race in the 2018 Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series.

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Race Results

2018 Metasprint Duathlon

The YPO Global Leadership Conference (GLC)/EDGE brought Debbie and me to Singapore for the second time. We were last here in 2012, when the event was last held in Asia. It’s typical when we travel for us to look for an event to do.

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On prior conference trips, we have done the Cape Town Cycle Tour and the Six Foot Track Marathon. The last time we were in Singapore, Debbie ran a 10K road race. This year, she opted for multisport. Today she did the Metasprint Duathlon.

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She had never ridden a true road bike, so we rented a Merida (Shimano Ultegra drivetrain/Mavic wheelset) from a local bike shop, on the recommendation of our friend, Tim Cosulich. The day before the race, a bellman delivered the bike to our room at the Marina Bay Sands. I’ve never had a bike delivered to my hotel room before! On Saturday, I rented an ofo city bike and rode with her, giving her some pointers on how to handle the bike, how to corner, how to shift, how to dismount/remount, and other tricks.

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Today, she did her first road duathlon and it was a lot of fun. I was planning to do this race too, but the broken leg I suffered at the USA Cyclo-Cross National Championships in January has been a setback. I only ditched my crutches a week before our trip and have been increasing my workload each day. On this trip, I’ve hiked, swam, and now ridden outside to go along with my daily stretching/strengthening regimen. However, I can’t run and don’t plan to for several more months.

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In contrast, Debbie is in good shape right now, and building towards her first ultra of the year, the Mt. Tammany 40 Miler in the Delaware Water Gap in two weeks. Today’s race was over in 66 minutes, which is considered a sprint especially for her. She had a great result, finishing second in the 40-44 age group. The format was a 3 kilometer run/18 kilometer bike/3 kilometer run.

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The run course was a narrow loop along the Kallang River, finishing on the bike path before it reached the transition area. The bike loop was also narrow with a few turnarounds, but at least it was on completely closed roads. Both were dead flat, given that Singapore is a low-lying island with no real elevation. Part of the course is shared with the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix course.

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Tim raced in the Elite Men field. He is a talented triathlete and won the Aquathlon which kicked off the Metasprint Series last month. The trilogy completes in April with a sprint triathlon and he should be favored with his strong swimming ability. He was busy with the YPO conference all week and out late at night (like us), but he managed fifth overall and fourth in the tough 35-39 age group.

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We had a momentary scare last night when Debbie was organizing her gear and reading the race materials on-line. She found a page where it said that packet pickup was last Tuesday (in person) and that there was “strictly” no day of race bib number pickup. This concerned her because she hadn’t received any confirmation emails or race instructions, though she did find her name listed with the starters. She slept restlessly, but was relieved when we arrived at the venue and there was an area for Overseas Athlete Kit Collection. No sweat. She submitted her medical form and she was ready to go.

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The weather in Singapore is pretty much the same year round. It rarely dips below 74 degrees Fahrenheit and day time temperatures usually reach the high 80’s. The humidity is omnipresent and typically in the 70% range like today. At 6:30 A.M. when the first wave went off, we were already soaking in sweat…and the sun hadn’t even come up yet.

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Debbie had a really good race. Her only problem was a rookie mistake. She was leading her wave after the first run, but entering transition, she couldn’t remember where she racked her bike. The racks were numbered, but in her mind, she transposed her bib number. She thought it was 1828 instead of 1282. She had placed her bike in transition when it was dark and when there were few other bikes in the rack, but in the race, this led to confusion and cost her 30 seconds as she searched to find it.

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Aside from that, things went smoothly. If she does this again, she will have to learn how to use aero bars, since they make a big difference. She much prefers the trails and XTERRA style races, so her road duathlon/triathlon days may be infrequent. Time will tell. We are already thinking about our next foreign adventure. The YPO conference returns to Cape Town in 2019.

Race Results

Lantau Trail Hike–Hong Kong

Our Lantau Trail hike in Hong Kong turned out to be the first big test of my leg. In classic Livingston Family fashion, Debbie and I underestimated the difficulty of this route.

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Our day hike turned into a grand adventure with a fair amount of suffering, just like old times. We eased into our first full day in Hong Kong. Debbie went for a run to The Peak, while I spun on the stationary bike at the hotel gym, and then swam for 30 minutes in the outdoor pool.

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We had a late breakfast, and then after reading email and catching up on the news back home, we meandered down to the piers. We took a 12:30 P.M. ferry to Mui Wo on Lantau Island. The intention was to do a three-hour leisurely hike. We knew the terrain was hilly, but we didn’t expect it to be so rough. We arrived in Mui Wo after the 50 minute trip, and then took a taxi to the Nam Shan trailhead. By the time we got moving, it was nearly 2:00 P.M. The sun sets around 6:30 P.M., but we never thought we would be chasing daylight.

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I brought a headlamp on this trip, but left it at the hotel room. I’ll save the suspense: we didn’t need it, but it would have been a prudent safety measure to have it, especially since my iPhone battery died. Debbie’s phone was fine, and in a real pinch, we would have used the flashlight feature, but that would have been pushing it.

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It was warmer and more humid than expected. We had a few bottles of water, but that proved to be inadequate to fully satiate our thirst. The hike ended up being 8.25 miles, but when you factor walking to the pier and then home from the train station, it ended up being a 12 plus mile day, which was hard on my legs (both of them). It was time for a test on my left one, 10 days after ditching my crutches.

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I followed the doctor’s orders and didn’t fall, but I’m sure this is not the kind of walking he had in mind. It wasn’t just the broken fibula that slowed me, but my overall level of fitness. I hadn’t hiked in six months since before cyclocross season started. My legs didn’t fail me, but they came close. Over the course of four hours, the Lantau Trail basically went up, down, up, and down again. On our route, there were two major climbs. The first was up Sunset Peak, and the second was Lantau Peak.

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We skirted the true peak of 869 meter (2,851 feet) Sunset and avoided a side trail that would have required us to backtrack, but the Lantau Trail went right over the top of 934 meter (3,064 feet) Lantau, which is pretty impressive considering that we arrived on a ferry!

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The fog and smog were intense. Hong Kong Island and Lantau Island are known for their bad air quality. I’ve got nothing to compare this with, but it was pretty bad. This limited the views, which would have been spectacular on a clear day. We still enjoyed the trail. We saw a handful of people, but it was generally pretty quiet, especially high up. We saw some backpackers heading up for overnights, but most people were out for the day.

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The TransLantau ultra (25K, 50K, 100K) was on Saturday and the course was already marked on Friday. Sadly, we didn’t hear about this race until it was sold out. Prior to our trip, Debbie inquired about race entry, but the event was full. That’s OK. It would have been fun, especially now after seeing the terrain, but she accepted the circumstances and now we have a reason to come back. She would have been happy to do the 50K. The 100K would probably have been much since she hasn’t done an ultra since Hardrock last July. Plus the race started at 11:30 P.M. on Saturday and wouldn’t have been over before our next flight. She has had a long stretch of “time off,” but is gearing up for Mt. Tammany 40 Miler in March, and Traprock 50K in April. She has other races planned during the summer including the North Face 50 in Massachusetts in June, the Vermont 100K in July, and the Ragged Mountain 50K in August. After that, it’s a bit up in the air, but she plans to ride the Vermont 50 again.

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The TransLantau is rugged. We saw the trail up close yesterday. The most impressive feature was the stone steps. There were thousands of them. The rock work/trail maintenance was awesome. The stones were perfectly placed and went up the steep gradients in both directions. Navigating them on reduced power and a damaged leg was incredibly hard.

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When we got to the road crossing between the peaks, we tried to take a bus (shortcut) but couldn’t figure it out. The first bus that came was the wrong one, so at my behest, we stubbornly pushed on. On the climb to Lantau Peak, I regretted the decision and mumbled about leaving the headlamp at the hotel. I kept checking my watch as we made painfully slow progress up the steps. Our goal was to reach the Big Buddha at the remote Po Lin Monastery. A friend had described the route and given us some basic info, but his estimated times factored in some running. We were only walking, so it took a lot longer than expected.

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The climb up Lantau Peak was brutal, but the descent was even worse. My legs were shaking and I had to stop multiple times. I had to avoid a fall at all cost. The steps and gradient were very similar to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Both climbs ended up being about 2,000 feet of climbing for a total of 4,291 feet of elevation gain based on Debbie’s Suunto GPS data. It was the 4,000+ feet of descending that killed me.

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Seeing the Tian Tan Buddha at the end of the trail was worth every painful step. It couldn’t have been planned better. We got here just before sunset. Unfortunately, the steps to the Buddha had closed an hour before we arrived at dusk, but he was lit up in all his glory. We heard “buzzing” from a kilometer a way, and it turned out to be two drones, controlled by photographers in the square.

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Just past the Buddha was a tourist village, but all of the shops were closed. So too was the funicular that came up the hillside from Tung Chung. One last store was just about to close, but we stopped and bought two bottles of water, grape juice, and coconut milk.

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The drone pilots were two of a handful of tourists left visiting the monastery. In addition to the photographers, there were quite a few wild dogs, which didn’t make Debbie happy. At one point, there were three of them surrounding her, and she shooed them away. If the dogs weren’t wild enough, there were half a dozen cows wandering around the square and nosing through the garbage cans. A couple of them just plopped themselves down in the middle of the bus parking lot. Street signs warned of their presence. We wandered around the village looking for transportation information. We eventually found the bus terminal and the attendant said that one more bus was coming at 7:20 P.M.

He pointed us in the right direction and 20 minutes later, we were on our winding way down the mountain to Tung Chung. There, we found the train station and an hour later, we made our way back to Hong Kong Island. The train goes under the water to Kowloon on the mainland, and then under the harbor to Central Station. We walked from the station back to our hotel, washed up, and went straight to bed. It was a long and fun day.


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We explored a few historic mill sites in #Dobsonville and #Talcottville on our way from #Vernon to #SouthWindsor via #mountainbike They only had black and white back when these old New England factories were pumping out textiles. #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #sevencycles #islabikes
Good fun at today’s #traprock50K the kickoff race of the 2018 #Connecticut Blue-Blazes #trailrunning Series. #ultrarunning @shenipsitstriders #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports ☀️🏃🏻⛰
The Monday evening Dirty Duathlon series kicked off tonight at the Longo Farm Preserve. I enjoyed watching. #duathlon #mountainbiking #trailrunning 🚵‍♂️🏃🏻
Good fun at today’s @manchesterrunco Finally Spring 5K! @shenipsitstriders #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports #fs5k 🏃🏻
Great Friday morning #carfreecommute Tomorrow is a big day for the @eastcoastgreenway Workers will install these pre-fab steel spans on two gaps in the Manchester to Bolton connection. One will cross Camp Meeting Road. I also cut through #WickhamPark for the first time in 2018 and spent some time with my deer 🦌 friends. It looks like the worst park roads will get some much needed maintenance. #eastcoastgreenway #railtrail 🚴🏽
#mountainbike @mohonkpreserve #mohonkpreserve #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad
My first #carfreecommute since I upgraded my Nashbar panniers (good value) to a new custom set from @dillpicklegear These beauties are #madeinusa and a better match for my @seven_cycles Axiom SL. They work fine in cold weather. Where is spring? ❄️ The landscape image with the logs and solar panels is the start/finish of the fiend Silk City Cyclocross at Manchester Community College. I love solar, but the soccer and baseball fields are gone, which is sad. #sevencycles #teamhorstsports
Fun day at the MT. TAMMANY 10 ultra in #delawarewatergap @trailrunningmom ran 10 hours and 20 minutes or so for 38+/- Miles and 12,000 feet of up and 12,000 feet of down. I’ll have a race report and more photos tomorrow night. #mttammany #trailrunning #ultrarunning #mttammany10 #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports 🏃🏻❄️⛰📷
Images from 1) The Start and 2) End of Loop One at the MT. TAMMANY 10 ultra in #delawarewatergap @trailrunningmom and about 39 other whackos have 10 hours to complete 10 four mile loops including the 1,200 foot ascent(and 1,200 foot descent) of #mttammany That’s a lot of up and down on snowy, icy, rocky, and rooty trails. This is Deb’s version of a scrimmage. She is working her way back into shape after the long layoff since #cascadecrest100 last summer. I’m happy to just watch this one. #trailrunning #ultrarunning #mttammany10 #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports 🏃🏻❄️⛰📷

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