North American Fell Running championships
For the first time in the 19 year history of the USATF NE mountain series the number of races increased to seven and a race was held in the fall. The series became a best 6 of 7 races. I had only hiked at the Cranmore race due to injury so I needed to run the final race to move up in the overall standings. My main goal for the race was to survive; I did not want a repeat of Lone Gull when my calf went into spasms. Being a Fell race the course was “open”, so I spent a fair amount of time looking over various maps and devising the best route.
On race morning I headed up the Bretton Woods slopes to check out the final two check-points to make sure I had an idea of where I wanted to go. Keeping track of trails crossed was going to be tough especially when tired. After an hour of hiking I got my number, changed into racing gear and headed out for a warm-up. Teammate Jim Johnson joined me as we scouted the lower part of the mountain which we might traverse from the third to fourth check-point.
About 120 people nervously lined up, many were worried about the navigation aspect of the race. Only the first 3 check-points would have course markings, after that you were on your own. Forty chose to do the shorter course (the three check-point version) on a day with great conditions for racing. There was some fog and drizzle and temperatures were around 50 degrees as we took off up the hill.
In the very early going I found myself around 10th place as a lot of guys shot out fast. With 1,400’ of climb to get from the base lodge to the summit of Mt Rosebrook there was plenty of time to sort things out. Jim and fellow teammates Todd Callaghan and Matt Viega were the lead pack closely followed by Erik Vandendries (NETT). I found myself in fifth place as I hit the mile in 14:11 and the summit in 18:01.
From Rosebrook we had a traverse and some downhill to the high country loop on the slopes of Mt Stickney. The most obvious course was the “two miles home” trail which was the marked course as well. I locked on to Erik and we reached the Mt Stickney cabin and then turned up in the glades. I kept waiting to see the leaders coming down the hill and eventually we saw Matt leading with Jim and Todd not far behind. It took us 9:52 to get from A to B and as we bombed down the trails I slowly pulled away from Erik.
About halfway down the Telegraph T Bar trail I heard footsteps and a guy went flying by. I ran a sub-7 minute mile but felt like I was holding back trying to not overtax my legs as there was a long way to go. I stopped for a drink and another guy went by me and I was now in 6th place. The climb to West Mountain was another nut busting 1,100’ climb.
I decided to do the traverse part at the top of the mountain rather than the lower part, that way I’d get to check out the entrance to “Archies Alley” which I’d be looking for AFTER visiting West. I moved into 5th place and then turned up the Zephyr High Speed Quad trail (Range View) and settled into a good rhythm. Another benefit of traversing on top would be a chance to see how the leaders were doing. I topped out near Chutters and headed over toward West on the Stillwater run. About ½-way over I saw Jim and Todd leaving West, I was a bit surprised that I’d missed Matt. Soon after I saw Matt pop out from a side trail, he’d made a navigation error and lost the lead! I had now moved up to third place. We ran together to West (which in all was another 14+ minute climb for me). My time from CP-C to CP-D was 19:12.
Now I was on the part of the course I’d seen so I felt a lot more confident of where I was going and how much running I had left. At Chutters I turned down Archie’s Alley and I think Matt bombed down Range View. I took a moment to have a gel and read the map and BOOM I completely wiped out. My hand got a big cut and I was dripping blood on my map (and got blood all over my face from wiping off sweat). I hit the Bethlehem Express Quad lift line and looked down to the bottom and saw Matt running through CP-E. It took me 8:33 to go from D to E and I lost a solid minute on Matt.
The final climb from CP-E to CP-F (the Enchanted Bear glad trail) was tough! I angled across the mountain using trails I’d checked out that morning. I could see Matt climbing straight up to Latitude 44, which was a very safe route choice but also added on climb and distance. By cutting across the mountain I was able to reach the final check-point a little ahead of Matt. It took me 11:46 to cover the traverse from E to F.
The last segment (from F to the finish) was the nicest part of the course. I ran straight down the glade which had some excellent grassy footing and a grade that was mostly run-able. It was kind of wild seeing people 50’ up in the air on the zip-lines flying by. Matt Viega also flew by as he caught me about ½ way down and hammered on down to the finish. I kept him in sight over the last 7:43 it took me to get down the mountain.
In all it took me 1:25:29 to cover the 8.6 miles that my route covered with over 3,500’ of climb/descent. The shortest distance I heard was 8.1 and the longest was over 10 miles. Jim Johnson sat on Todd Callaghan and outkicked him for the win (they covered 8.6 miles as well but ran a slightly different course than I did). Matt covered 9.4 miles, so he probably would have been right in it with the top two had he navigated a little better, but he seemed to have fun. CMS took the team title in the overall, 40+ , and 50+.
My calf didn’t give me any issues and I took home a bag of apples for winning the 50+ age group, so life is good!
1 Jim Johnson 37 Madison, NH CMS 1:19:26
2 Todd Callaghan 45 Beverly, MA CMS 1:19:36
3 Matt Veiga 27 Lynn, MA CMS 1:24:54
4 Dave Dunham 50 Bradford, MA CMS 1:25:29
5 Brian Cuimo 22 Burlington, VT 1:27:30
6 Vincent Lyon 25 Durham, NH 1:28:41
7 Trevor Burbank 31 Scarborough, ME 1:29:00
8 Peter Keeney 48 Bar Harbor, ME acidotic 1:29:11
9 Erik Vandendries 49 Chestnut Hill, MA 1:31:21
25 Paul Bazanchuk 59 Ctr Conway, NH CMS 1:43:50
62 Robert Thomas 54 Charlton, MA CMS 2:14:44