North American Fell Running Championships – This was my third time competing in the Bretton Woods Fell Running championships so I’ve started to get a better mental picture of the mountain. Unlike “normal” trail/mountain races a Fell Race has no set course that you must follow. Instead you have to reach check-points in order but can pick and choose how you get to each of the CP’s. I visited Bretton Woods a few weeks ago and scouted some possible routes but was still a bit uncertain on one or two of the CP’s.
I showed up early on race morning and headed out to run up to CP-B and make sure I had a clear route to CP-C. I took it pretty easy covering 2.1 miles with 1,200’ of climb, I didn’t want to work too hard as the race was going to be a serious test. Too save my legs a bit, I jumped on the lift and caught a ride back to the base. After a quick change into racing Inov-8 shoes I went back out for another mile to see CP-F and how I’d head into the finish. About 120 lined up for instructions, many were attempting to get their “Goat Status” as this was the final race in the 2016 USATF NE mountain running series. Some would do the shorter course (3 CP’s) which was marked and wouldn’t involve any navigation.
There wasn’t much in the way of short-cuts to CP-A and the entire field just headed as straight as possible up the lift line. CMS teammates Matt Veiga, Todd Callaghan, and Ed Sheldon quickly pulled away. By ½ mile into the climb I’d moved into 4th place and was dropping behind Matt & Todd. Ed slowly came back and I caught him just before passing the Latitude 44 restaurant. I hit the first CP in just under 17 minutes with a 1,200’ climb over 1.1 miles (average grade = 21%). CP-B was a nice downhill run to Stickney Cabin, it was a bit steep at the start but mostly very run-able. I dropped the 200’ over 9/10th of a mile in a little over 5 minutes. I was feeling pretty good but knew it was early on and there was going to be another killer climb.
From Stickney I dropped down the “Easiest Way” trail through some meadows, this was also very run-able and in 3/10th of a mile I dropped 200’ before hitting Mountain road. This was where some would continue down the mountain and then approach CP-C from below. I think a lot of people did this one the same way I did which was to cut back across the mountain (passing Latitude 44 again) and then dropping down Bigger Ben to Fabyan’s. The climb on the road wasn’t too bad (150’ over 6/10th mile). I grabbed a water as I passed Lat 44 then ran down to CP-C.
I hoped that during the climb up to West Mountain (CP-D) I’d put some ground on Ed who was somewhere behind me. One of the aspects of an “open course” is you never know where or when someone may pop out in front of you by using a superior route choice. I started the long grind up to West climbing Crawford’s Blaze. It was a brutal ½ mile with 500’ of climb that took me 7 minutes. I got confused when I hit the dirt road (Archie’s Alley) as I could see the lift-line. For some reason I thought I was ON West Mountain that I’d somehow drifted too far west. As such I climbed to the top of the lift (an extra 100’ of climb an extra 1/10th of a mile and an extra 1:30 of running. D’oh! At that point I realized where I was and bombed down the road. I took a quick left onto the West Summit hiking trail which smoothed out some of the climb to West. I ran it pretty hard, hoping I hadn’t lost too much with my earlier mistake. Someone called out “third place” as I passed between the markers for CP-D, so I hadn’t lost a spot.
The run from CP-D to CP-E was enjoyable, after getting down Joseph’s Run and getting back on the Mountain road (Triple Traverse). It was a great mile of running with a few hundred feet of drop. It was also a good chance to see where others were. I saw people coming up from CP-C and as passed Lat 44 (yet again) I saw Todd Callaghan leading the race on his way to the final CP. As I approached CP-E Matt Veiga sprinted out of the woods in front of me. I was surprised, he must have made a fairly big mistake to have lost that much ground. He was just a few seconds ahead of me at CP-E as we both reversed direction to head back across the mountain.
The final CP was the only one I hadn’t visited but I had a good plan. Approach it from high up via Coos Caper (it was located at the Junction of Coos and the West Glades). Ed Sheldon passed me headed toward CP-E at about the same spot Todd had passed me, so Todd was about 4-5 minutes up and Ed was about the same behind. I relaxed a bit knowing that the race was almost over and making sure I didn’t get hurt on the crazy descent down Coos. I was at the top of Coos in 1:01:50, and Todd was just crossing the finish line (he had an incredibly fast finish I wish I could see his route!). I still had Matt in sight as he accelerated down the slope. Two minutes later I came to a complete stop as Matt had turned around and was heading back up! I hollered “What’s up?” and he told me we were on the wrong slope. I crossed over to the next slope and continued to descend. Soon after Matt flew by and I asked him if he was sure we were on the correct slope. He assured me we were. Actually we were now on “West Glades” which would definitely bring us to the junction of Coos which WAS the trail we had been on. Either one would have worked so I didn’t really lose any time but Matt did by climbing back up to the turn. Anyway, he bombed out of sight after passing through the CP-F signs.
I continued down Coos then crossed toward the finish at the base lodge. I reached the line in 3rd place in 1:09:53. In all it was 7.6 miles with 2,400’ of climb and descent. Ed came in less than 2 minutes later coming on strong at the end and giving CMS the top 4 spots. We ended up taking the open, masters, and seniors team titles along with individual titles in the overall, masters (Todd), seniors (me), and veterans (Paul Bazanchuk). In all it was a great day for the CMS men.
More to follow on the USATF NE mountain series.
1 1:01:43 Todd Callaghan M47 Beverly, MA CMS
2 1:08:37 Matthew Veiga M29 Lynn, MA CMS
3 1:09:52 Dave Dunham M52 Bradford, MA CMS
4 1:11:43 Ed Sheldon M52 Hooksett , NH CMS
5 1:17:23 Logan Wilson M22 Boston, MA Northeastern University CR
6 1:17:55 Michael Narcisi M32 Acton, MA Sisu Project
7 1:18:37 Heath Brewer M32 Twin Mtn, NH
8 1:19:53 Jordan Reidelbach M22 Virginia Beach, VA
9 1:20:25 Matt Picard M32 Jamaica Plain, MA
10 1:20:50 Leslie O'Dell F40 Albany, NH CMS
21 1:27:04 Paul Bazanchuk M61 Ctr Conway, NH CMS