Wednesday, September 29, 2010

2010 Run Across New Hampshire

The 3rd Annual
Run Across New Hampshire
"Sullivan Expedition"
125 Miles of New Hampshire Wilderness
October 23-24,2010
For the third year in a row, Team Sherpa Ultrarunning presents The Run Across New Hampshire (RANH). The RANH was first concieved by Sherpa John Lacroix during the summer of 2008 and has been run on the same route (Brattleboro,VT to Odiorne Point, NH) for the last two years. The 2010 Edition of the RANH will be run on mountain trails in New Hampshire's western range.

This years run is being conducting with the cooperation of Conservation New Hampshire. Conservation NH's Mission is to "enrich the quality of life in New Hampshire by improving the environment and conserving natural resources." Our mission in working with Conservation NH is to get people outside during the weekend of our run. To get them outside and enjoying a portion of our state and sections of trail that are virtually unkown and/or under utilized. With this in mind, it is our hope that in getting outside, people will understand the true value of New Hampshire's most natural resource and will in turn encourage the conservation of that resource, New Hampshire's forests.

The Run
Section 1: The Sunapee-Kearsarge-Ragged Greenway (SKRG)
The SKRG is a 75-Mile "emerald necklace" of trails that runs around the area of Lake Sunapee and crosses over the peaks of Sunapee, Kearsarge and Ragged Mountains. Greenway volunteers maintain this long distance trail and advertise it as a 14 segment trail travelling through 10 New Hampshire Towns. For The RANH Sherpa John will be running the SKRG in it's entirety, starting at Lake Solitude on the slopes of Mount Sunapee, 75 miles Counter-Clockwise around the Greenway and back to Lake Solitude.

Section 2: The Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway (MSG)
The MSG is a 48 Mile hiking trail that runs from the summit of Grand Mount Monadnock to the summit of Mount Sunapee. The greenway travels through 3 State Parks that includes Mount Monadnock, the 2nd most hiked mountain in the world (Behind Mount Fuji). For The RANH Sherpa John will run the MSG from North to South, starting on Sunapee and finishing on Monadnock, all 48 miles immediately after having run the 75 mile SKRG.

The current speed record for the MSG is 9 Hours, 30 Minutes and 4 Seconds. While Sherpa has no intentions of breaking this record during this expedition, at the expeditions terminus he will become the first person to ever run the SKRG and MSG in succession. The Average hiker typically takes 3-4 days to hike the MSG and the SKRG has no means of shelters/tentsites there for has only ever been done in segmented day hikes.

From car to car this years RANH totals 128.8 Miles in length.
Elevation totals 27,210' of Gain and 26,869' of Loss for total elevation change of 54,079'

The Crew Will Assemble at Newbury Harbor (Newbury, NH) at 4am for the hike to Lake Solitude. The official run clock is set to begin at 5am from Lake Solitude/Mount Sunapee State Park.

(See Bottom of Post for a local map)


[During the next couple of weeks we're going to introduce you to the SKRG and the MSG by providing you with more details about each Greenway and their history as well as an in depth look at the finish location, Mount Monadnock. We'll also take a closer look at Conservation New Hampshire and what they do to help Conserve New Hampshire's greatest asset. We'll introduce you to The Crew for the adventure, provide you with the list of segments to run and also conduct a few indepth interviews. Stay Tuned!]

"Why The Sullivan Expedition?"
In the summer of 1779, General John Sullivan led the Sullivan Expedition, a massive campaign against the Iroquois in western New York. During this campaign, troops destroyed a very large Cayuga settlement, called Coreorgonel, on what is now the southwest side of Ithaca, New York. He pushed his troops so hard that their horses became unusable, and killed them on this campaign, creating the namesake for Horseheads, New York. The lukewarm response of the Congress was more than he could accept. Broken, tired, and again opposed by Congress, he retired from the Army in 1779 and returned to New Hampshire. It is through Sullivan County that much of this years RANH takes place and the effort required to complete the 128 mile mission would deem horses of today, "unusable."

"Do You Have People Who Follow You?"
Yes, I have an experienced crew prepared to assist me on the journey. They have spent countless hours preparing for the journey with me by scouting out sections of the trail, determining aid station locations, counting miles between stations and ranking sections of the trail based on level of difficulty. The Crew is an intrical part of the expedition where as they will be my "horses," carrying food and water to each aid station and serving as pacers when needed.

"Do You Eat, Drink, Sleep?"
This is a very common question and the answer is a resounding yes. The amount of food and drink I'll need to consume during the expedition is astounding to many. Eat: I've been known to eat the following: Banana's, oranges, watermelon, strawberries, gummy bears, cookies, potato chips, grilled cheese, cheese burgers, pizza, PB&J and a variety of anything else I can get my hands on. It is vital to the success of this mission that i consume enough calories to keep my body fueled throughout. I also eat Powerbar Energy Chews and Powerbar Gels. Drink: On me at all times will be a bottle of water and a bottle of my favorite sports drink which will both be refilled at each aid stop. I also drink Boost High Protein shakes periodically. Sleep: The goal is to NOT sleep during the expedition but this is a hard thing to fight off. Typically I get sleepy around 11p and 2am and will fight the sleepies until sun-up. Sleep during the expedition usually comes in the way of 10-15 minute cat naps but one wouldn't really call it "sleeping." It's more of a catatonic state where the body rests but the mind keeps racing. While my eyes are closed, I'm breathing heavy and my muscles fall into a deeply relaxed state, I am still very awake and can hear everything going on around me. It's like a bad nightmare.

"How Many Aid Stations Will You Have?"
My crew is prepared to see me at 28 Pre-determined locations. These stops range in distance anywhere from 3-10 miles and they have been set up in locations that limits the amount of driving my crew will have to conduct between stops. Not only does this lighten the amount of work and pressure put on my crew to "be there" but it helps us operate with a minimal amount of auto emissions during the trip.

"Can I Join In The Fun?"
Yes! In Fact, that's the whole reason we've teamed up with Conservation New Hampshire and why we're doing this. We want to encourage folks to get outside and enjoy a section of our state that isn't typically used or known about for recreational purposes. You can sign up to run or crew by contacting Leah Belanger at She'll provide you with all the details. Runners: In the coming weeks, we'll post a list of segments you are welcome to run as well as their level of difficulty based on the perception of a mid to back of the pack runner. Crew: Crewing is a hard job. It requires patience in that you do very little driving and a LOT of waiting around for the runner(s) to appear. Once they're there, you spring into action for all of 5 minutes, rinse and repeat.

"Why October?"
This is how I like to celebrate my birthday; outside, adventuring and with my close friends. Yes it's cold but how many people actually like running in the heat and humidity?! (Truth be told, I LOVE it) Besides... have you SEEN the folliage?!

"What If The Weather Is Bad?"
The adventure takes place rain or shine. Jed Williamson who annual writes, "Accidents in North American Mountaineering", said it best himself; "There's no such thing as poor weather, just poorly prepared hikers." During the 2009 edition of RANH we ran out of Keene with a head wind for the next 40 miles followed up by torrential rain and snow on Sunday. We still found our way to the end of the run with all types of gear to keep us safe and comfortable from beginning to end. KEEP THIS IN MIND if you intend to join us. Come prepared for anything! We've experienced high temps in the 80's and low temps in the teens during previous editions of this run!

"Do You Run The Entire Time?"
I dare you to find someone who can! I know a few folks who could.. they're out of my league, but that's not me. I run the downhills and whatever of the flat sections I can. Otherwise, I'm powerhiking all the up hills as fast as I can. Keep in mind that this expedition, while about being the first to complete this mission is a timely fashion, is more about the journey and less about "how fast" can it be done. I all ready know that whatever my time is.. it can be done faster without a doubt!

"When Will You Finish?"
The run finishes sometime on Sunday, October 24th on Mount Monadnock. Hiker's and runners are encouraged to join us for the final segment of trail. This segment begins at the Dublin Tr. Trailhead parking lot on Old Troy Rd. in Dublin, NH. The clock for the run will officially stop on the summit of Mount Monadnock. Because of the nature of this run it's hard to say when we'll finish. Best estimates are anywhere from 32-40 Hours with 36 hours being a "fair guestimate." 32-40 Hours is anywhere from 2pm-9pm Sunday. Your best bet is going to be to follow twitter updates during the run to follow my progress and base your participation on that. I'm not thinking we'll still be out there after dark on Sunday, but you never know. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess 4pm Sunday.
2008 RANH: 31 Hours 29 Minutes - 2009 RANH: 33 Hours 56 Minutes (Both Runs on Road.. no mountains ::wink wink::)

"Why Did You Decide To Do This?"
You'll have to tune in to read about the why. But here's a hint.. it's a lot like Forrest Gump who said, "And one day, I just felt like runnin'"

"Can I Read About Previous RANH's?"
Yes you can. Both reports were done as part of a series. Many have enjoyed them in the past and continue to enjoy them to this day. 2008 RANH REPORT CLICK HERE - 2009 RANH REPORT CLICK HERE

Team Sherpa: Contact Sherpa John
Media: Contact Leah Belanger
Participate: Contact Leah Belanger
Conservation NH: Contact Michael O'Meara

Click On Map For Larger View

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

RR: 2010 Vermont 50

September 26, 2010
Vermont 50 Mile Endurance Run
50 Miles - Brownesville, VT
I was excited to return to the Vermont 50 for the fifth year in a row. After DNFing at the Leadville 100, which in turn ended the Grand Slam for me, and then deciding not to head out to Utah for the Wastach 100, that meant I was able to sign up for the Vermont 50 a race I had not previously intended to run. So I was excited to put my name into the mix and get out into the hills of Vermont, one last time. I had no idea what to expect heading into this years race. After struggling to recover from Leadville with sickness.. it was a tough call. I knew I wanted to enjoy the course this year but how was all going to depend on how I felt when I woke up in the morning.

I arrived at Ascutney Saturday night after a bit of memory issues while packing up the car. Forgot my bottles.. was in Nashua.. drove to Epping.. and was all ready in Manchester when I realized that I forgot them again. It was hard not to laugh at myself seeing as I wasted an hour and a half driving around Southern New Hampshire all because of memory re-lapse. Is this an age thing or a tired thing? At Ascutney I checked in, got my bib and then enjoyed the Spaghetti dinner that happened inside the hotels restaurant. They did a nice job feeding us all. I started thinking about race day pretty early on. My thoughts all revolved around who I was going to run with. I had a few choices.

I could run with Gilly, who in 2009 came to the Vermont 50 and ran in the mud. At mile 47, she had arrived 10 minutes late and was pulled from the course.. crushed. She was back this year for redemption and I had thoughts of running with her helping to see her to the finish line. Then there was Josh. Josh is a better runner then he realizes. Typically Josh runs with his father, side by side, which is quite fantastic to watch and/or be apart of. But when dad is at home, Josh turns the engines on and can run like hell. I knew he was thinking of PR.. which was currently at 10:52. I could help him reach his PR.. or then there was this girl I heard about from Gilly. Her name is Bekky and she is a new student in the UNH Outdoor Education Department. As part of one of the classes I previously took, she was doing the VT50 as her endurance challenge. Gilly told me this girls time goal was 8 hours and 30 minutes. I could help bring this girl down to earth.. and get her to the finish line..

Why help anyone at all though? It was a pretty easy thought for me. This was the fifth time that I was lining up for this race and it's likely to be the last time. I was thinking back to my first year running it. It was my first 50 miler and I had no idea if I was going to make it. I wanted to qualify for Western States. It was Joe Desena who lined up that year with me (2006) and told me he'd run the entire race with me, step for step, all the way to the finish.. and yeah.. "you'd qualify for Western." I could think of no better way to spend my final time on this course then by helping someone else as Joe had helped me. I had no real time goals for this race,  no real needs wants or desires... I thought long and hard about how I'd best enjoy my day out here and this was it. So, the thinking continued.. who would I help.

Rain never materialized overnight, thankfully, and we woke up to a balmy morning this time of year. It was 52 degrees at the start of the race, some 20 degrees warmer then in years past. I milled around the race tent before the start, listening to Zeke's unique voice booming across the participants. I ran into a bunch of folks I hadn't seen since before the VT100, folks I hadn't seen since May and it's always great to catch up with the familiar folks. It's even more exciting to meet the new faces, folks who I'm facebook friends with but have never met. I enjoyed a variety of conversation and then Gilly introduced me to Bekky. It was finally time to head out to the road, it was warm in the tent and outside 52 degrees didn't seem so balmy anymore. We all stood at the starting line, arm crossed trying to hug our own warmth inside. Waiting for Zeke to tell us to leave. It seemed like the number of runners out there was lower then most years but the RD would later tell us the number of runners was above 500. The command was given and we were off down the access road.

We have to have been the worst group of miscreants to run around out there. It was Josh and Leah, Gilly, Bekky and myself. We were whooping it up in the early morning air, cracking inappropriate jokes, talking about youtube videos no one wants to see. It was a riot, at least I was having a blast, smiling ear to ear and excited for the day. This is a far cry from the dread I felt when the alarm went off this morning. All I wanted to do was stay in my tent in sleep.. but figured that would be the most expensive nap I'd ever take. Yet here I was, bounding down the first sections of road, feeling like a sloth. I felt awful, slow, fat... thats pretty much how my lackluster year has gone. Lack of any real training has caught up to me the last few races and I was feeling it. I was bummed.. knowing that there was certainly no PR in store for the day.
Josh was quick to remind me that if I ran with him I'd set a personal slow on the course. In looking at Gilly, I immediately went to thinking how she needed to do this race on her own. She needed to learn, needed to put her guts out there and go get it. Leah was in the relay, Loni was no where to be found.. I just kept running. I was half way up the first hill when I realized that it was Bekky who was keeping pace with me. She was picking my brain, asking questions about this race, others races and UNH OE. It was in that moment that I knew I'd found who I was going to run with.. and it was Bekky. We made it into the first aid station where we grabbed fruit and then headed right for the woods. We were both warmed up now, settling into a pace.. and our day was only just beginning.

Into the Wild
After leaving the first aid station, Bekky made it pretty clear that she was glad we were running together. The first hill doesn't end at the first aid station, it continues in the woods, and continues and continues. She wondered what her race would have been like had she chosen to run it all, and the thoughts now that she's seen the course weren't so pretty. We walked when we felt like it and ran when it was necessary. We ran all the downs and flats, enjoyed the twisting and turning singletrack and you could even hear a few hoots and hollars as we bounded through the forest. In between the fun, we talked about Outdoor Education and UNH. The department, the classes, the people. Bekky is really excited to be in our major and at the end of the day I can tell you that I'm excited she's there too. We talked about the class she's currently in and I quickly discovered that she was running with her Dewey book, quoting Dewey's Experience in Education and trying to draw parallels from our activity to what she's learning in class. Sometimes this doesn't come easy, but when you're doing something so life changing as running your first ultra, it becomes pretty easy. She stopped thinking so much and just let it all come to her naturally. Beyond school, of course we had plenty of time to get to know each other, our supportive/unsupportive familes, and who it is we hope to become.

We made it into Skunk Hollow Tavern when Bekky was shocked we'd all ready run 12 miles. Time flies when you talk and talk and talk. Company is the best thing out during these races. In the aid station I found Gilly's father who had transported my aid bag to the stop for me. I grabbed what I needed and turned around to see Bekky all ready to go. I was shocked! This girl had done her homework. Not only did she have a steady pace, but the girl was in and out of the aid station, refilled, fed and ready to rock. I was impressed and we took off together. out of Skunk Hollow the course heads out onto the roads. We climbed a long hill that lead us up to the rock wall. The rock wall is a long rock wall that has to go on for a mile. It's on both sides of the road and keeps animals in the pastures. To our left, one the top of a high pasture is a house made of stone, worth at least 2 million not included the 100+ acres of land with it. We pass by the house which owns this immaculate one mile rock wall, with every single stone expertly placed so that the wall is perfectly square. At the end of the wall is a sugar shack complete with 8 or 9 cords of wood and thats just what we can see. It's quintessential Vermont and always awesome to run by all this craftsmanship.
It was on this section of the course that we began conversation with a woman who was wearing a G.A.C shirt. I told her about the GAC at the VT100.. and how I thought they were rather quiet and selective with their cheering this past year.. and thats when I realized that this was Paula. If you read my VT100 report, Paula was the unfriendly woman who was puking her brains out on the way to Margaritaville, (Karma is a bitch as you'll read here later), and today was a completely different story. Paula, in much better condition, was a real gem out on the course today. Her every move and word was accompanied with a smile and friendly words. Still in High School Skinny shape after the 100, I joked that she'll be running her way into a little black dress after the run. She smiled and we shared some more laughs. She was so pleasant and the GAC should be happy to have such a friendly and outgoing member.

We continued to make our way through the woods now with the climb up Garvin Hill around a few more corners. We re-entered the woods which was all maple trees. Each tree had a bright blue tube attached to it and that bright blue tube connected to a bigger black tube. All of these lines were carrying the tree's syrup to a holding tank. The holding tanks then had another line that took the syrup down to the nearby sugar shack where the water is then boiled so all that is left is pure syrup. These lines wove in and out of everywhere and we joked that it looked as though we were running through a gnarl of spider webs. The leaves were gorgeous, temps still cool and all we're thinking about was pancakes and syrup. We then make that final steep climb to the top of Garvin Hill where for the first time in years we are treated to a view of the Vermont countryside. Over the last few years it's either been raining for foggy to the point that there is no view but this year, a blanket of color is laid out below us as we look out towards the hills to the West. A stunning view, one that at first leaves us speechless. We get into the aid station and thank the VERY friendly volunteers. Those of us who ran last year were reminiscing about the cranky crew that manned this spot in 2009; this years volunteers told us that crew refused to come back. We thanked them very much for their time, gave a few resting bikers some guff.. then heading off down the trail. I raised my arms up and yelled "Waa hoo!!" The view was stunning and I had to let it out.. simply amazing.
Down and around we go as the trail now weaves it's way in and out of the woods, down and around pastures and houses, on and off of roads and into what seems like the middle of no where. At Cady Brook I see an aid station work who is wearing a Yankees hat. Lots of these folks in Vermont. I give him some ceremonial crap and I get the usual "We'll make the playoffs." Truth be told.. I really don't care but it's really fun to jar at the yankee fans; they're so upsetable! Cady Brook is in the black hole of the course. The forest here is dark and deep. We mosey our way up a long hill. Some runners run it, today we decide to be smart, take our time.. and see what happens. We keep talking and laughing, just enjoying the day.. and the moments of silence were now becoming a bit more frequent. It's getting harder for me to turn my legs over after we break, something I can't stand but deal with. The trail is easily discernable, where the bikes have all riden they've blown the leaves off the trail. So you'll have a blanket of yellow and orange on the ground with a stripe of brown down the middle. There isn't a bit of mud to be found on the course this year and I'm loving it even though it's extremly dusty.

Party Time!
At Smoke Rise Farm we see the gang from Margarittaville. It's just about lunchtime now and they've got burgers rolling all ready and warm soup. I asked if anyone was drunk yet, "not yet.. but buzzed!" We grab some grub, get refilled and head up the road. I don't wear a watch when I run but I know we're right around 12/min mile pace still, about where we've been since the beginning and still running a solid race. We run then walk then run then walk up the hill out of Smoke Rise. Around the corner a mother and her daughter are out ringing a bell and shaking a pom pom as they have every year. It's getting warmer on the course and the cloud cover is making it darker from time to time. We get off the road and dump back down into another fun winding downhill trail section. It takes us down to Dugdales which is the next handler stop. We're excited, moving well and still all smiles.

We enter Dugdale's where I head right for the porta potty. Happy that for a change I've only done this deed once on the course today but dreading the chaffe to follow. When I get out of the porta potty, I see that Leah who has since finished her relay section, has my red bag and has gone to work at preparing my waist pack for me. She's crewed for me before so she jumped right into action. She emptied my trash and refilled me with gels. My bottles were ready to go and I drank some boost. At the aid table I grabbed fruit and gummy bears. I was so happy Leah helped me get going and so greatful for her work that I gave her a huge hug to thank her. Bekky was all set to go, her and her mom offered me more candy, I took some gummy bears and we walked down the road. I was telling her that this was Silver Hill Meadow, where the 100 is. We were on the final miles of the VT100 course now and we were running with Marge. Marge is the newest member of The Animal Camp and was wearing our color proudly. She was looking great out there and I was showing her the this and that of the VT100 as well. We climbed the hill and ducked off into the woods where we climbed some more. I was feeling awful and running wasn't helping.. this is where the karma comes in.

So as we climbed a hill of mowed down briars, I felt crummy. For some reason my stomach had been unsettled for the last few hours. I didn't know whatw as wrong or what to do but I asked Bekky how she was. It was warmer now and she wanted to take a layer off so we stopped. As she removed long sleeves I stepped off the trail and into the shrub where I proceeded to bend over and puke freely. Out came gatorade, gummy bears (whole) and orange pieces. I think there was some boost in there too but.. the world was not agreeing with me. I threw up some 4 times when I looked down below and saw another runner climbing the hill, I waved hello as he caught up. I stood up and looked at him when he asked, "You ok? Going to make it to the next aid station?" The look on my face was priceless. With a HUGE smile I looked at him, bright eyed and said "Hell yeah man.. this is all just part of the party." I immediately felt better and we were now running quicker then we had in the last 2 hours on the course. It was time to roll and it couldn't have come at a better time.

From here the trail continues with roller coaster single track that weaves back and forth and in and out. We'd be bread and buttering runners left and right. A runner is 500 yards ahead of you yet right beside you. We kept leap frogging the same two guys. They'd let us go, we'd let them go and so on. I told everyone about the party house that was coming up and the cooler of beer they usually leave out for us. Yet as we reached the house this year, no one was home. No cheering, no yelling, nothing but eery silence. As we rounded the corner I saw a small cooler. I looked inside and all it had was water and spare bike tire tubes. Damn! NO BEER! I was so disappointed yet we carried on. We crossed a road and headed back up another long hill and I knew Fallon's was at the top. We entered the aid station and I had a fig newton and some Ginger Ale. My stomach is feeling much better but I don't want to take any chances. Apparently I have some nutrition to figure out for the future. Bekky and I make quick work here, I share my ginger ale with a biker who looked dogged and we carried on down the trail. Down below we took a sharp left into the woods at a shed and as we went to climb the next hill, I found a fungai. The thing was huge. I took it off the tree and carved my message into it "Josh & Gilly LET'S GO" I put the mushroom message on the groun in a spot where I was certain their heads would be down and they'd see it and then we took off running.

Bekky was starting to get IT Band issues now and from time to time she'd slow down do a walk. Mostly on the downhills which is where the IT Band is most known to flare up. She walked a bit gingerly down the steepr hills but for the most part, she sucked it up and toughed it out. She kept telling me that if I wanted to go ahead I could. I won't lie.. I thought about it.. but only briefly. I was having a great day, enjoying the course and everything about the day.. I was in no hurry. I had no idea what time it was nor did I even care. We were just running. We'd come this far together and my goal was to get this girl to the finish. I feared if I left her.. she might find reason to slow down or quit. I didn't want that; so I made my running trot a bit slower and just slowed down a bit for her in the places that I knew would hurt. She was doing great. The only thing now was... the course was rather quiet. We were running sections of the course where I usually see 50Kers coming out of the woods and 50 milers slowing down. We saw virtually no one.. and I began to wonder a bit.

We entered Goodman's and I was happy to see John Bassette and his crew there. John is the VT100 Pacer coordinator. I looked around on the aid table and they had grilled cheese. My favorite! I was so excited to just stand there and eat quarter after quarter of grilled cheese. All told I think I ate two whole sandwhiches and rank a soda. Bekky was ready to rock so I thanked John and his crew and we left. I warned her that it was a long ways to Johnsons now.. 6 miles or so.. and it's not pretty. Everything you've experienced in chunks on the course thus far, is thrown at you in one last thrown down with the course during this next section. Prepared, yet tired, we took it on together. We talked and cracked more jokes and the miles just ticked by. Somewhere in the dark spruce we passed a 75 year old man who had started his quest at the 50K at the same time we started the 50. He was walking his best, with a walking stick and chocolate smeared on his lips. All smiles.. this guy was true inspiration. Especially given all those folks who constantly tell us how we'll be missing our knees at 60.
We hit the final downhills with fury, trying to keep Bekky on her game and not hobbling with the ITB. The miles are just ticking by now.. fewer and fewer places to go. We pass a few runners, a few guys gingerly walking, one not pleased with the constant zig and zag of some of the sections.. but we're moving. We blast out onto the road and enter a farm where Ascutney is high and mighty in front of us. 4 miles to go and we're all smiles, thinking about food, the finish and accomplishment. We try to keep our heads about us still running that same 12 min/mile pace we started with. We see Gilly's father and boyfriend waiting for her. Then we see Leah. We stop to walk a bit, saving energy for that final climb past Johnsons. Leah walks us up the driveway and into Johnsons aid station, mile 47.5 Bekky see's her mom while I entertain Leah and she entertains me. We grab food and drink they take off again knowing that Josh and Gilly were 15 or so minutes behind us at Dugdales...

The Finish
We tackle the final climb of the course with zeal and anticipation. We want it to be over now. Suddenly climbing doesn't feel so hot anymore.. and we know running downhill hurts a bit. Even my IT Band is starting to say hello. Yet it's in these final miles that I feel so proud of my new runner, so proud of Bekky for finally taking on this challenge she had heard about over a year before and only now finally had a reason to go for it. She could not have run a more perfect race from nutrition to pacing to having the perfect crew. It amazing, humbling and inspiring to watch all at the same time. I really was speechless. A tiny lump formed in my throat as I fought back tears though.. because I was thinking about Leadville and the Slam. I was thinking about my struggles at the VT100.. and the amazing year I've had despite being a tad slower. I was so happy to be here in this moment, happy to be back, happy to be finding that finish line.. that I couldn't help but get a little emotional. So I started to tell Bekky about "Last Moments." I have a professor who told us about how she works with terminal patients and she just thought about last moments. How in life, we never know when THIS moment will be our last... that if it is our last moment.. what kind of a moment is it going to be. It was here that I told Bekky that this was a hell of a last moment.. and if it's not the last, it's a mighty fina rendition to the last of many moments we've had in our lives. And it's these moments that make all the others, good or bad, worth while.. and keeps us coming back for more.

As we traversed the final ski slope, I looked back as we were about to take that final turn when I saw.. Leah behind me. I did a double take, looked back again and there he was. Josh. Talk about final moments. My jaw dropped and my eyes widenned. I think I almost pissed myself but I turned around and made the kid chase me. We yelled back and forth a few choice obsenities, then I slowed down and asked if he wanted to finish together. He wanted his PR.. I looked back.. now about 30 yards ahead of Bekky.. I looked at Josh ahead of me.. and yelled, "Go get it Josh! You deserve it!" Josh finally beat me in an ultra, missed a PR by less than a minute, and me.. I waited for Bekky.. and we continued on. As we approached the chute, I saw Loni on the sidelines. I had to stop. Loni has been training for an entire year.. and I mean entire.. training more for this then I have for anything.. just to finish her first 50 and she was pulled at Dugdales. I had to give her a hug and I told Bekky back about 10 miles prior that if I saw her I would. So here we were, in the chute and I stopped.. to give Loni a hug and told her how proud I was of her and how inspiring her effort is to me. Then.. I looked ahead and Bekky was now waiting for me. I sped up and we ran, side by side, through the chute and across the finish line. We'd done it... all 50 mile in 10 Hours 53 Minutes 16 Seconds... a new personal Slow.. and one of the more enjoyable Last Moments I'd ever had.

After medals and pictures, we waited for Gilly. With her family at the fnish we knew she was close. At 11:53, with 7 minutes to spare and a face on the verge of tears, we see Gilly and her pacer Paula come barreling down the trail and into the chute for her first Vermont 50 finish. It was bitter sweet. She got her redemption and she got it on her own... I couldn't have been happier for everyone.
I gotta say thanks to Mike Silverman and the rest of the Vermont 50 team for putting on one of the more amazing races in our country. I've travelled a lot, done alot.. and I have to say that this race doesn't compare to any other that I've done. It's worth every penny to run here, rain or shine and it all goes to an amazing cause. Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sport. Providing opportunities to those with disability. Huge congrats to them and thank you!

(A Few stolen photos coming)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Inspiration Point: Ben's Journey

Peter Larson of Runblogger posted this on his daily mile and Twitter accounts and it really is a moving video. Every time I watch it, I can't help but rise to my feet and go for a run. The video is the story of a young man named Ben, who decided to take up running in his effort to lose more than 120 pounds. The video tells it all and speaks louder than words ever could. My initial thoughts about the video lead me to think about all of those over weight American's out there with a launrdy list of excuses on why they can't get out to run a mile... then 2.. then 3. Their knees hurt, they have bad ankles, bad back.. no kidding. I would too if I was carrying extra weight.. running is much more than just getting in shape.. it's living, breathing, and experiencing life. I think Ben teaches us this point the best as he learns to reach for his own Human Potential... and boy does he. Enjoy.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gear Review: NEMO Equipment

NEMO Equipment is a New Hampshire company located in Nashua, NH. I first learned about their products through my former employment at Eastern Mountain Sports. A lot of customers had been coming in asking about their tents and I realized that I knew very little about them or the company. It was at the Association of Experiential Educations Northeast Regional Conference that I met an employee of NEMO. At the conference he set up a variety of their tents and air mattresses as well as placing on a display a variety of their extra products. I spent a fair amount of time with John learning about the NEMO Brand, setting up and taking down tents, inflating and deflating air mattresses and then spending my last night at the conference testing out their new MIO 1 Person Tent. I was simply blown away not just by their products but the companies dedication to those who use their products, listening to what we want and need, but also their dedication to the environment.

NEMO is owned and operated by a dedicated group of outdoor enthusiasts who don't just make the products, they test them by beating the crap out of them and seeing what's left. At the end of the day, these tents hold up to every test I've thrown at them while still looking like new. I'm impressed. For years I've used Eureka, Sierra Designs and MSR tents; swearing by all of the them as quality tents that can't be beat... until I was lucky enough to get a MIO 1 Person for my own use from the folks at NEMO.

> 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg)
> 24 sq ft (2.2 sq m)
> 6 sq ft (0.6 sq m) Vestibule
> Sit-height comfort

The Mio is the perfect one person tent for the lightweight/compact traveler. I've managed to squeeze this cantaloupe sized tent into my carry-on while flying cross country multiple times this year. The Mio is lightweight and super durable. It held up to 60+ MPH winds and driving rains during a severe thunderstorm in Vermont's Green Mountains all the while keeping me dry and cozy. It kept me cool with the rooftop vent under the blazing sun of the Sierra Nevada's of California and it kept me warm and at home while in the Rocky Mountains of Leadville, Colorado. While the Mio offers plenty of room for the single adventurer, my wife and I have managed to sleep side by side, comfortably, in the tent as well. We call it our "cuddle tent." The Mio is by far the best one person tent on the market.

Mio is the close cousin of NEMO’s Gogo tent, an ultralight AirSupported bivy. Mio’s airbeam is similar in shape to Gogo’s but ten inches taller, allowing you to sit comfortably inside. Mio uses NEMO’s ExoFly vestibule design, which allows the inner tent to be retracted when you need vestibule space, or deployed when you want extra leg room and interior space. An overhead vent at the apex of the tent promotes good air circulation. The Swallowtail end of Mio can be propped up with a short stick to tension the tent above your sleeping bag. Includes Integrated Pump, watertight stuff sack, stakes, repair kit.

> 1.5 lbs (0.68 kg)
> 1.6" Thickness (4 cm)
> Two layer comfort adjustability
> Packs small
> Includes stuff sack

I've been a Therma-Rest user for the last 15 years and the Tuo Lite quickly became my new go-to mattress for camping. The double air chambers gives me the opportunity to customize the level of comfort the pad offers on a variety of hard surfaces. The pad offers protection from the cold ground while allowing travelers to free up some space given it's "body-sculpted" design. Being able to easily roll up my bad and put it into a stuff sack for travel has proven very important to me as well. While the old hodge-podge of mattress's continues to bring the bulk and the excessive materials, the Tuo Lite continues to allow me to travel light, compact and sensibly wherever it is I might be adventuring.

The Tuo series of inflatable backcountry accessories brings a new level of comfort to the sleeping pad. Literally. The Tuo sleeping pads have a thin film inside that divides the pad into two separate airtight levels, each with their own valve. Not only does this give you complete redundancy in the event of a puncture, it means you can inflate the base layer firm for protection from rocks and roots and keep the top layer partially inflated for maximum comfort. Enjoy the full 2.3" thickness of Tuo Luxury sleeping pad or save precious ounces with the 1.6" thick mummy-style Tuo Standard sleeping pad. A 2/3 length version of Standard called the Tuo Lite is also offered. All models include a stuff sack and repair kit.

NEMO has a variety of other products to go along with both the MIO and Tuo Lite as well as a collection of other eco-friendly products (often made from the scraps of tent construction) that compliment the outdoor adventurer well. It doesn't matter if you're a runner, hiker or weekend warrior.. these products are well worth the investment, which is what purchasing quality outdoor equipment is, an investment.


Sunday, September 12, 2010


Courtesy of 2020 Vision Quest
It was just after September 11, 2001 when a small group of hikers climbed atop Mount Liberty (4,459') to fly an American Flag as a symbol of American pride and solidarity after the attacks on our nation. From that flying of the flag was Flags On the 48 created. Every year since, hikers have ascended New Hampshire's 4000 Foot Peaks to fly American Flags proudly from the summits. Over the years, Team Sherpa has hiked to Owls Head, Bond and Bondcliff. After missing out on the event the last few years; we finally returned to hike Mount Liberty.

Sarah and I arrived in the Whitehouse Parking lot in Franconia Notch hoping to surprise our old friends Bob and Geri Hayes with the flag flying equipment in tow. Instead, we were surprised to not find them anywhere and instead a group of hikers we didn't know. So, after posing for a parking lot picture and being handed a small American Flag, Sarah and I headed out onto the trail. We hiked steadily to Franconia Ridge where we quietly approached Randy Pierce and the rest of his 2020 Vision Quest Team. I snuck up behind Randy and told him it was time to get the lead out. He smiled from ear to ear while extending his hand for a handshake, and welcoming Sarah with a hug. From here, we followed in Randy and Quinn's footsteps on the way to the summit of Liberty.

I've mentioned Randy a few times on this blog, but in case you've forgotten.. I want to tell you about him again. Randy, along with his seeing eye dog The Mighty Quinn, aspires to be the first blind man to successfully hike the 48 Four-Thousand foot mountains in New Hampshire. He and his team are an amazing inspiration and truly a "sight to see" in watching them work. Please check out their website: 2020Vision Quest.

After hanging out with Randy and his gang for awhile, I took off for Flume, another 4K. It was a grueling 50 minute 2.4 Mile run from peak to peak to peak. Ankle twisters grace the landscape and a collection of boulders here and there. After a few bashed toes and tweaks, I was expressing myself with a few swear words. On the summit of Flume I counted around 50 hikers enjoying the gorgeous weather and remembering the devastation of 9/11. Back on Liberty, I counted 50 more. This event has truly grown over the years.

Sarah and I just want to thank the 2020 Team and the rest of the FOT48 folks for welcoming us on the hike. I also personally want to thank Bob and Tricia, a couple from Rhode Island whom I first met in 2005 at a "48" film showing and whom I'm run into a variety of times in the Whites since. Their friendship and support is always warmly welcomed and appreciated. Thank you!

Sherpa John