North American Fell Racing Championships
My number one goal for the North American Fell Racing Championships (NAFRC) was to not get hurt. After running today, I think I met that goal.
I headed up to Bretton Woods (
) on Saturday to help out with marking the “safe route” and give myself a chance to look at some options. The course was what is called “open” meaning you could choose any route you wanted to as long as you passed through the checkpoints in the correct order. I had fun hiking around the peaks with the acidotic racing crew. We spent over 3 hours putting flagging out and looking at possible time saving routes. After getting dehydrated and catching a good sunburn it was time for a run. Ryan Welts joined me for an easy four miles on the snowmobile trail along the Carroll, NH . At 2 miles we turned and took a quick break for an amazingly refreshing soak in the River. Ammonoosuc River
On race morning I drew my route on the course map and wrote a few notes, including which ski trails I wanted to run on. For a good portion of the race I’d run on the safe route but I figured I had a couple of superior routes (read: shorter or better footing) to use. I went for an easy 3 mile run in
North Conway at 5am while it was a cool 75 degrees! At 9am I arrived at Bretton Woods and it seemed hotter and more humid than it was on Saturday. Paul Bazanchuk and I went out for a 2 mile warm-up and scouted out how we’d run in. After that I got into race flats and did another half-mile making sure I had a good idea of where I wanted to go at the start. I ditched a bottle of water in a bag of ice near the water stop and then put some ice in my hat and headed to the start (with another bottle of water in hand). It was 90 degrees, this was not going to be pretty.
My plan was to go out easy and just try to be steady on the climbs. For the downhill parts I figured I’d go as slowly as possible to make sure I didn’t get hurt. It seemed like most of the field headed off on the safe route as I went with about 10 guys on a shorter grassy climb. By 400m we met up with the lead pack and they went flying on ahead. I was a bit shocked to find myself in the top 10, but happy to be running pretty easily with Ryan right there. I ran a bit further and on a bit rougher footing choosing to hug the edge of the ski trail where I could get shade. I did that for the entire race and felt it really saved me, it was absolutely brutal in the sun. Ryan and I stayed together through checkpoint “A”, which we reached in 14:46. That was just over 1 mile with about 1,000 feet of climb.
We got a little break after that with a ¾ mile traverse across the mountain and then a very short tough slog up to the top of Mt Rosebrook. I ran with Ryan and we watched Kevin Tilton slowly pull away, the rest of the field was already out of sight. I gapped Ryan on the climb, but figured he’d fly by me on the descent. It took me 9:22 to cover the .85 miles to checkpoint B.
I felt pretty good on the descent back to the start and took it as safely (read: slowly) as I could. I was worried about the beating my legs might take if I ran too fast. Surprisingly Ryan did not go flying by, I reached checkpoint C in 8th place. The 1.33 mile descent with 1,300’ of drop took me 9:28 (7:07 pace). I took a very short break at the water stop (34 seconds). I refilled my hat with ice and grabbed my second bottle of water, jogged to the water stop grabbed a cup of water and was off.
Ryan had passed me while I was refueling but I caught him about 200m into the climb. I cut to the right (west) and veered off the safe route. It looked like the shorter route might be directly up Rangeview, so I headed a little further across the mountain then went into the long steady climb. I was careful to stay right on the edge of the ski slope so I would be out of the direct sun. About ½ way into the climb I saw a runner come out from the safe route near the top of the slope. A couple of minutes later Brandon Newbould came out the same way, then two others (I think one was Todd Callaghan). As I approached that point Jacob Barnett appeared. I closed the gap on him on the final tough climb up to the summit. I covered the 1.0 mile climb (1,013’) in 17:27.
Barnett headed down the safe route and I stayed high just a bit longer then headed down Avalon. I was feeling pretty good, except my legs were a little wobbly on the descent. I was beginning to think I’d make it though the heat and climbing. As I was descending Avalon, I passed Newbould as he was heading up. I was pretty sure he was in the lead but had no way of knowing. Soon after Todd Callaghan chugged by, looking very strong. They were the only ones I saw as I made the .81 miles descent (787’) in 6:18 (7:47) and caught Barnett at the aid station. I grabbed a cup of VERY cold water and turned around and headed right back up Avalon.
It was great knowing that this would be the final climb of the day. I probably worked this climb the hardest as I was pretty sure I was going to make it without any major catastrophes. I hit checkpoint “F” in 13:17, which was 17:15 pace for the .77 miles with 787’ of climb.
I turned around and headed back down Avalon, after walking a few steps on the very steep Josephs Run near the top of
. I saw Christin Doneski crushing the climb up Avalon and then about ¾ of the way down Avalon I heard a loud noise and a humongous Moose came flying out of the woods. He passed about 30 meters in front of me. That was very cool! I caught the safe route just after checkpoint E and stayed on that into the finish. It took me 10:17 to complete the 1.4 miles with 1,120’ of descent and that brought me to the finish in 1:20:56 for 7.25 miles with over 3,000’ of climb and descent. West Mountain
I was a bit sore and definitely tired after finishing, but Kevin Tilton (who dropped after the first loop) got me to do another flat 2 miles easy for a warm-down. With this done, I’ve got two weeks until Mt
. I’m hoping to drop my mileage down lower than it has been in a year (70 miles) and then races Ascutney, USATF NE 5k champs, and Mt Washington in a six day span. THAT will be harder than the Bretton Woods Fell race! Washington
Start to A – 1.09 miles, Climb 1,010’, 14:46 (13:33 pace) via safe route
A to B - .85 miles, climb 323’, 9:22 (11:01 pace) via safe route
B to C – 1.33 miles, descend 1,363’, 9:28 (7:07 pace) via safe route
C to D – 1.0 miles, climb 1,013’, 17:27 (17:27 pace) via Crawford Ridge/Rangeview
D to E - .81 miles, descend 700’, 6:18 (7:47 pace) via Stillwater/Avalon
E to F - .77 miles, climb 787’, 13:17 (17:15 pace) via Avalon/Josephs Run
F to finish – 1.4 miles, descend 1,120’, 10:17 (7:21 pace) via
Josephs Run/Avalon/Safe Route
Pl Time Name Cat Age City, St Team
1 1:10:13 Brandon Newbould M30 31
Nottingham, NH WRT
2 1:13:34 Tristan Williams M20 27 Jackson, NH
3 1:18:18 Eric Macknight M20 24 Ballston
Lake, NY WRT
4 1:18:36 Todd Callaghan M40 43 Beverly, MA GCS
5 1:20:56 Dave Dunham M40 49 Bradford, MA CMS
6 1:24:16 Jacob Barnett M20 28
, MA SRR Medford
7 1:26:48 Ryan Welts M30 32 Northwood, NH acidotic
8 1:29:07 Christin Doneski F40 42 Hopkinton, NH WRT
9 1:30:29 Peter Keeney M40 47
Crow Bar Harbor, ME
10 1:30:36 Jeff Hixon M30 39 Boxford, MA acidotic