Saturday, May 10, 2008

Rocks Part 4: Local Digs

If you are looking for the Dr. David Horton Interview about his upcoming CDT Record Attempt, please click HERE.

If you are looking for the Karl Meltzer interview about his upcoming Appalachian Trail Attempt, Please click HERE.

Pawtuckaway State Park: In Raymond/Deerfield/Nottingham, NH, Pawtuck Offers a variety of landscapes. There are many trails leading to many special points of interest, including a mountaintop fire tower; an extensive marsh where beavers, deer, and great blue herons may be seen, and a geologically unique field where large boulders called glacial erratics were deposited when glacial ice melted near the end of the Ice Age. This place is nothing but technical trails littered with rocks and roots. Steep grades, dirt roads and long twisty trails with tight switchbacks. In an October Blog Entry, Nate and I ran Pawtuck. I run a 6 mile loop here with 2,000' of gain per loop and 2,375' of elevation loss. The thing about it is there is literally ZERO flat. You're either going up or down in unrelenting quad punishment from the hammering of downhills. Putting on the breaks here is hard to do. But one thing is for sure, this place is home to plenty of rocks. Mostly slab and "chicken heads."

Bear Brook State Park: Bear Brook SP is HUGE! On the book ends of the park are two short mountains, Round and Carr. Getting to these is quite a treat. The trails here are covered with baby head sized rocks, tons of roots and a real technical workout. You really have to keep your eyes open when running on some of the trails so you don't eat it. There is also tons of single-track trail that the Mountain Bikers coast on. Its perfect training for a rocky race as it provides a good mix of technical and non-technical running.

Fort Rock - Exeter, NH: Probably one of the rockiest places to run. This place is called Fort ROCK for a reason. Its a mountain biker heaven but you see plenty of runners here as well. One of the most technical runs on the seacoast. PLenty of short hills to practice cadence on and plenty of rocks to test your grit. Its nothing but Baby and Chicken heads... EVERYWHERE. Picking your way through here can be quite the task and a little painful. I've run here on many days where at the end my ankles hurt from all the twisting turning and rolling. BUt that was then... now I'm used to it.

The Belknap Range: A strenuous adventure that visits nine peaks in the Belknap Range. The Belknap Range is an L-shaped string of small peaks that rise 1,800 feet to the west from the southwestern shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. At the eastern end of the range, Mount Major, with its excellent 360-degree views, is one of the most climbed mountains in southern New Hampshire. At 2,380 feet, Belknap Mountain is the tallest peak in the range, which consists of fifteen named summits above 1,500 feet. This hike is a strenuous traverse from northwest to southeast, climbing over the summits of Mount Rowe, Gunstock Mountain, Belknap Mountain, Mount Klem, Rand Mountain, West and East Quarry Mountains, Straightback Mountain, and Mount Major. The hike involves substantial elevation gain and requires good route-finding skills, because there are many trail intersections on this route, some unmarked. less than 48 hours after the Stonecat Ale 50 Miler in November, I tackled this trail with Kevin Tilton and Dave Dunham, two mountain running legends. We completed the amazingly rugged traverse in 8 hours. You can read about it here.

These are just some more local places that I tend to train on. Before I became an Ultra-Runner, I was a hiker here in New Hampshire. While peak-bagging NH's 4000' peaks, I began to dabble in trail running. It is through my experiences in hiking these rugged mountains, the rock infested local digs, our easy Wapack excursion, the Pemi-Loop, the Presi-traverse and various other high mountain training runs that I am seriously NOT WORRIED about the rocks at Massanutten. I have the experience with rocks to pull off what some of you see as impossible. But hey... "Tell me I can't, I'll show you I can." Just because YOU haven't.. doesn't mean that someone else can't. I guess time will tell.

My pacer for MMT, Paul Kearney, ran the Wapack 50 Miler this weekend. At the end of the race he ran into Donna Utakis. Donna has previously won MMT. He asked her how the Wapack compared to MMT and she said that MMT isn't as bad as MMT and that in fact, if you made the Wapack a 100 Miler... it would be WAY tougher than Massanutten. This speaks volumes especially where I didn't think the Wapack was all that bad.

The Old Man Of The Mountain: NH is home to the Old Man of the Mountain. In 2003 it fell from its lofty perch in Franconia Notch State Park. It truely symbolized the grit and granite of NH's men and our geology. May 3rd, the day I ran the Wapack as a training run, was the 5 year anniversary of the Old Mans Falling. How much do I love rocks? So much, that I got this famous rock tattooed on my back..

The bottom line about my 4 part series on Rocks is that Virginia and MMT is NOT the only place on earth that has horrible rocks as far as the eye can see. I know some folks have a tough time with terrain like that... but I grew up with and have hiked and run on the granite terrain of NH for many many years. Its like when I was heading to McNaughton for the first time and everyone told me to "prepare for the hills," and when I got there.... I laughed my butt off at what they called "Hills" in Illinois. The bigger story there is MUD not hills. At the JFK 50 in 2006, people kept telling me that the rocky section on the AT was horrible... I blazed over it making it to Weaverton Gap wondering if I had all ready done the rock section and if I did... Where the hell was it!? Its all in how we prepare for these events... and what we are used to. Some folks run on rocks better than others, as evidenced by Brett Sarnquists SMATTERING of the Wapack TRail 50 Mile record this weekend as he ran sub 10 hours on a trail RD Bogie D claims is "NOT RUN-ABLE"... I think Brett proved it is!

Karl Meltzer has all ready proved that the rocks at MMT are run able. He's been training me since December to prepare for races like this and Vermont. And for those who don't know where Karl grew up... Its a place called New Hampshire.. where he trained and ran on the same rocks as I do.. and at the age that I currently am. And there is a long list of other elite ultra-runners who have as well... the proof (as they say) is in the results. ; )