Saturday, October 30, 2010

RR: 2010 RANH

Saturday, October 23, 2010
2010 Run Across New Hampshire
Miles Travelled: 63
Time: 24:10:13
Elev Gain: 12,611.4'
Elev Loss: 12,365.5'


CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO
Josh and I met up with Mike O'Meara from Conservation NH at 4:15 AM up a side road from Newbury Harbor in Newbury, NH. As we exit out vehicles and exchange salutations, it's hard not to smile, laugh and shake your head a little bit at the fact that it's snowing. This is the first time this year that I've seen the snow fall and it's sticking to everything. It's all of 27 degrees, a balmy morning for the Run Across NH. As we begin to hike Mount Sunapee the wind howls out of the West North West and chills you to the bone. As it blows across the ridge lines you can hear that eerie winter "whir" of the wind cutting the trees. Snow whips in circles around us as we talk about the year that's now come and gone. We reach the junction of the two greenways and the boys snap a few photos of me at the start. It seems like it took forever to get here, but just as we arrived, we turned and left to head back down the mountain.
A New Kind of Adventure
Down in Newbury I run alone along the silent small town streets of no where New Hampshire. The world hasn't quit awoken yet. It's all of 6:30 AM. The police patrol town slowly and only the newspaper drivers are around. I take my first left and then.. I miss my second. I continue to run down Old Post road, and run and run and run as the sun continues to rise. As it does, the light of the sun hit's the leaves just right so that the oranges and yellows of a New England fall shine brightly in the crisp morning air. The wind, still blows softly but the snow has stopped and the skies are clear. It's a beautiful day and it's hard to not get into flow. I start to think though, that I've missed my turn. I recall the map in my head and remember that it wasn't long that I was supposed to turn off this road. But there were no markings.. I stop and try to call Josh.. no service. About 3 miles down this long road, I finally get service enough to call my crew. They answer and I give them lessons on how to read a map over the phone. I was beyond frustrated all ready. I'm lost. They come get me, I jump in the car and they drive me to where I was supposed to make my turn. I get out and take off up the road again.

I hike vigorously up Bly Hill Rd. Josh had driven around to Chalk pond and I knew he was backtracking to find me. I only hope I hadn't missed him or that he was lost as well. I keep hiking when I see a pick-up truck coming down the hill. While in the car with the ladies, I had ripped the map out of the State Gazeteer. This would be my map for the day now. I stop the pick-up and tell them I'm looking for a trail. They vaguely know what I'm talking about, even thought it travels through their yard. They point to a yellow house and it's driveway. "Go up the driveway, even though it doesn't look like it, the trail travels to the right of the driveway and keeps going. That's it.. trust us." I head to the driveway and look up the pavement and see what they're saying. It doesn't look like a trail goes through here at all. Some 100 yards up from the main road is a tree with a blaze on it. I think I could have better luck finding Waldo as this day has gone so far. I walk past Bly Cemetery when a huge Owl swoops off a near-by tree and flies over to the other side of the yard. I am awed by its grandeur and then I continue on my way.

At the top of Bly Hill I see many high end houses with gorgeous views. I begin thinking about the immense "views tax" that New Hampshire is charging them for their views. As I crest over the top of the trail, I head down the other side. I look at my map knowing something doesn't seem right. I'm looking for my right turn... instead I'm on the next road. I hail a van to stop and they do. I ask the woman inside if she was from around here, "No." I thank her for stopping, turn around.. and march back up the hill. I come to the driveway I had run parallel to earlier. Private Property and No Trespassing signs are plastered everywhere. I ignore them and climb the hill anyway and then I stand at the end of the driveway at what looks like and old parking lot, long since grown in. I stand and turn left and look curiously at the woods. I see two logs laying parallel to each other about 2 feet apart.. I continue to stare and realize.. that's it. The Trail.

I head back into the woods and not before long I see Josh, sitting on a log, looking tired and frazzled and wielding a big stick. "There was a sign that says Bear Sanctuary." I didn't care. Here it was, 8:30am and I'm still not even 6 miles into this adventure after 3 hours of walking. He was continued to make our way towards Chalk Pond we talked about the new challenges that lay before us. We knew the adventure in and of itself was a challenge alone.. but we never expected it to be this hard to follow a 75 mile trail that's been in existence for some 20 years. We're all ready pissed, frustrated, tired.. and our gears are turning. We soon make it back down to the ladies. My mom has arrived with Munchkins and warm treats. So happy to see her and Sarah. Leah and Josh round the crew out nicely. I sit down and eat. Talk about my feet being soaked all ready and after a short rest.. I'm back off into the woods alone.

Progress Finally
I had an opportunity to change my shoes at the aid stop but I declined. There was still some snow on the ground in pockets and I didn't want the shoe change to be for nothing. Good choice too because just a few moments down the trail, my feet sunk into a leaf covered puddle of mud. I slurped my foot out, giggled, and kept right on running. The cold water inside the mud has now seeped into my shoes and the chill is shocking. It's getting late in the year here in New Hampshire and mother earth is certainly letting me know today. I keep running down the trail, searching for a massive deer my crew claims to have seen. I find only hoof prints in the mud, no deer. The trail winds it way out of the woods and onto dirt roads. I have no clue where I am but I can clearly follow trail markings now. I am amazed at how one moment I am running beside a golf course, big expensive houses, then turn up the next road and it's shacks, camps and farms. I run by one house that has about a dozen chickens pecking at the ground. It's quiet... almost too quiet.

I see a sign ahead warning that the road is now turning into a Class 6 road. I'd never heard the term and wondered what that meant. The road is closed from March 1 to June 1 every year... classic new hampshire mud season. As I continue running I learn quickly that Class 6 Road means... not a road. The divots are huge and there is no way any normal vehicle could ever make it's way up or down the next 2 miles of road safely. Only a monster truck could survive and I laugh to myself at the thought of this happening. I come off of the Class 6 road and onto town roads again. I see pick-up trucks parked in peculiar spots along the way, indicative of the hunters that are out and about with their bows and arrows. I'm sure to make enough noise so they hear me coming and not to mistake me for their big prize.
As I run along the next set of road, I enter a neighborhood of lakeside camps. I know I've made it to Wadleigh State Park area. It seems like every house around here is for sale. A sure sign of the recessions deep woods affects around here. Painful to see given that it's the tourism and recreation industry that New Hampshire relies so heavily on. I see two women walking their dogs coming towards me. I slow down and greet them good morning. I hand them a small business card which tells them about my journey and why I'm running it. We stand in the middle of the road talking about conservation and how important it is to many of the locals. They see me off with big smiles. As I round the next turn, the lake is almost still with only the slightest breeze making ripples in the water. In the distance is Mount Kearsarge and it's reflection shines as bright as the actual mountain against the clear morning sky. I meet up with Josh and Leah who are waiting for me.. Josh trying to sleep in the front seat. Sarah and mom arrive a bit late and I take the time to change my shoes.
NH is NOT Flat
Josh yells to me that the next section is flat. What he meant to say, I'm sure, is that it's the flatest section I'll run all day. It wasn't all that flat to be honest with you. The hills were just steep enough that I had to slow to a hike. It seemed like I was forever running up and down this horrid roller coaster. I run off of a road not far from where I last left the crew and see a truck parked. I knew hunters were just ahead. I proceed with caution. About 3 or so minutes into the woods I hear a "Hey!" I nearly jump out of my skin and look in the direction from where I hear the sound. I look and look... then I hear, "over here" I look ever closer and see a hunter sitting on a rock wall. I can barely see him and he's all of 15 feet away. I guess camouflage works after all. He warns me that there is one more up ahead and I thank him for the warning and being so kind. I continue on and see the other hunter, in the middle of the trail, on his cell phone, talking to the one I'd passed before. It was a father and son, hunting with bows.

I continue to run along a trail I can barely see at times. The fallen leaves has made it nearly impossible to find my way. From time to time I have to stop dead in my tracks to search for the last or next trail marker or some sign of an inverted single-track. I do all right but it's slow going and I feel like I'm wasting time. I'm pretty frustrated. In my mind we started a half hour late. We left Solitude a half hour late. We took an hour longer then I hoped to do leg 1 and then I kept getting lost. By now.. I've easily wasted some 2 to 3 hours out here.. and it's only getting worse. Yet I trudge along. I hop up and over rock wall after rock wall. it's really amazing to see the miles and miles of walls in NH. Built in the 18th/19th century, these are pieces of history. I stop and take some video of the walls and video of the maple syrup lines. There i something truly charming about this state. Something... old.
I get back out on to some roads near the middle school and run under I-89, the major interstate that connects NH and VT. I stop to enjoy the art work that graces the bridge abutments. under the highway and then back into the woods. I run towards the gold course, then along side it before I see Josh again coming up the trail. He's rejuvenated and talks about how much a 10 minute nap works. "You were right man! 10 Minute cat naps are pisser!" We run together at a pace I'm not really capable of keeping up. As Josh, charged and ready to go forges ahead, I have to slow down and take a breath before I get back up into a gallop. We come out of the woods onto Kearsarge Valley Rd where the crew is waiting in the trail head parking lot. I stop for a rest and grab some food. The parking lot is loaded with cars and the crew has made good on getting the word out about Conservation NH. Every car had a pamphlet and sticker on the windshield.
Up and Away
I knew what was ahead now. I'd all ready hiked this section and Josh and Grant had hiked the one after that. So we finally had some good recon on the trail ahead. I asked Josh to come with me up and over Kearsarge because I knew he hadn't hiked the peak yet. As a fellow hiker (before runner) himself, I knew he'd appreciate the section. We take off up the trail and Josh is still flying. I think in my head and get this evil laugh going on knowing what is ahead... and the thought that Josh didn't. So I sat back and enjoyed the show. I let him haul ass up the trail, and I smiled the whole way. We talked and caught up on how the day is going. We crossed a new bridge built with downed logs and we continue to climb. Every so often Josh asks, "It's not much further is it?" He's getting slow now.. so am I. We breath heavy... hell.. we're gasping for air, sweating now, it's warm when you're working as hard as we are. "Keep going Josh.. top of this hill you'll see it." We top out into a field, we look ahead.. he sees it and we both groan a little. This is why I do these things.. moments like this.. where two men have to dig deep to go such a little distance.
We continue to climb. The climbs get steep yet short, you top out, roll along and then boom! Another steep climb. Soon enough we emerge into a young Birch forest, re-growth over a section of the mountain that burned not long ago thanks to a lightning strike. Josh snaps a few photos and then we push to the boulder field. Here it's all rock scramble for a short ways before you pay for your effort. We top out on the uppers of the ridge where we can see the top within grasp. We take in all of the views, breathe in the fresh crisp air and feel great as a cold wind whips across our face. We reach the top and quickly just walk up and over it. It's too crowded here.. too many people and they're all in jeans. We head off the cone and back down into the woods. I run into a group of ladies and hand them one of the cards and ask them to check us out on the web. Then I see a couple. I go to hand the male a card and he stands there with his arms crossed just staring at me. It was odd.. almost rude. He finally takes it.. and I tell them what I'm doing. "Running 130 miles..." The woman replies "there is a race like that in France you should do." "Yes, the Tour Du Mont Blanc.. very expensive to go." "So are you going?" WHAT?! I had to keep going... this was just too much for my brain to handle. I'm in the here and now.. running in NH... trying to show you that you don't have to go to France to enjoy the earth and its beauty.
Josh and I roll into the state park where the crew seems to be having a good old time just screwing around. They were allowed to park for free...usually you pay a pretty penny. Grant is there and ready to run. Josh is done.. I think I broke him, but he's in great spirits and we laugh at the bitch of a climb we had just done together.. all 6+ miles of it. I sit down on the tail gate of a truck and eat some grille cheese, chips and slowly drink soda. I figure I've got to be about 50K into this thing... I'm only in the 20's and I've been running for 8 hours. An 8 or 9 hour marathon.. I'm sick to my stomach. It's very evident that this run is a lot tougher then I had anticipated. Front getting lost to the actual elevation changes. Everything has been drastic, nothing easy and we've literally fought for every single mile to this point. I'm discouraged early, and my mind is all ready wondering if we're going to make it to Monadnock.
Off to Proctor
Grant and I leave the state park and run down the hill. I fill him in on how the run has been going. It pains me to tell him the things I've experienced thus far, since they all revolve around frustration. We switch from talk of the run to "how's life." We really don't know each other too well but thank goodness we have plenty of time to get acquainted. I listen to him, he listens to me; we immediately start talking like we're best friends. We have no problems in locating the trail and we fly through this section towards proctor. We come out of the woods onto a flat farm road that abuts a huge field. Up ahead we see two women playing with their dogs, gun shots go off in the woods and we run along a small river. Soon, we reach a rickety bridge that moves and sways as I run across. We head up a small embankment and along the Andover Soccer fields. Families are everywhere while their kids play soccer. We cross the road and into the Academy parking lot where the crew waits again. I'm in the weeds, my mind if not well. I'm tiring and aggravated with the real lack of progress. I sit down and take a load off. Getting tired of the constant, "Do you want a sandwich? Want beef jerky? Want gummy bears?" The crew goes through the grocery list every time... I know exactly what I want and what I don't want. I try not to snap.. but it's no use. I'm just tired... I want them to leave me alone.. I'll ask them for what I want when I want it.. it's all here and I know what we have.. I'm getting snippy.. so I opt to leave as soon as possible.
Running Ragged
As I left Proctor Academy and started to climb the hill out of the valley, I was moving slowly. I was tight, tired, sore and feeling really dejected. We're hours behind plan and I have no clue if I'm going to make it around even this greenway never-mind the entire adventure. As we continue to move forward I am at least grateful for that but have growing doubts about our ability to endure through Sunday. Grant and I continue to climb Ragged Mountain. The further along we walk the steeper the trail gets. We're walking up what appears to be a back country ski route down the back side of the mountain. Grant stops dead in his tracks and throws his arm out in front of my stop me, "Cub!" I look up to see a Black Bear in the trail and as soon as it sees and hears us, it turns and darts into the woods. I laugh at Grant's reaction. He seemed rather terrified of this chance encounter. "See man... see how fast that thing took off into the woods?" I say as I reassure him that they're more scared of us then we are of them.
We continue to climb and the trail gets ever steeper. 35-40% grades torment us as we get near the summit. As it begins to level off we stop to enjoy a few viewpoints of the Kearsarge Valley. The winds which had once died down are starting to pick up again, sightly. As we pick our way across the rugged summit ridge, it's growing hard to stay on our feet given the steep slopes covered by the fine pine needles  that have rained down on the trail. As I tried to gently lower myself down a rock face I slip and fall. I throw my hands out behind me to break my fall and I jam my wrists into the ground. I feel a sharp pain in my shoulder and I'm instantly sore in my right arm, I have a stinger and my arm goes numb. I get up, brush if off and we make it to the top of the ski slope. From the summit I point out Carrigain and the White Mountains (snow covered) to Grant before shooting some video.
We head down the mountain and pick up some speed finally as we descend back down to the valley below. At New Canada Rd. we meet up with our crew. They've been waiting for some time and have the PowerBar banner hanging up on a forest gate. I sit down and eat more chicken soup and grilled cheese while Josh gets ready to go. Grant bows out for a short break and then Josh and I take off for the short section to Wilmot. We head down the dirt road and barely find the trail heading off the road in through tall grasses. We hop up onto an old rail bed then through another field, across a bridge, along a pond and a summer camp. We're back through a few neighborhoods as the sun sets on us. We continue to run as fast as we can when we finally need to turn our headlamps on. Back at the last stop I thought for sure I had run 47 miles... Josh told me... "It was 37." Out.. 13+ hours for 37 miles.
At the next aid stop, Grant is ready to roll again and the three of us take off up the trail. I could tell back at the last stop that the crew is tired. You can tell mostly by their eyes batting a lot and how quiet it is. They're not as cheery as before and I can only imagine what is going through their heads. They've all told me that they are here till the bitter end even if that's at Monday Morning 9am.. but I know better. They'd be here... but they really don't want to be. As we continue to climb Bog mountain the three of us walk by some kind of old stove and we joke that it's an old crematorium based on the mound of dirty nestled within rocks near by. To our left for about a mile rests the biggest rock wall of the day. Easily 3-4 feet high and 2 feet thick. It's a monster... "someone important once lived here." And just then, we hear a crackling in the trees that sounded like a branch was coming down. I try my best to grab Josh and throw him off the trail as we roll off into the weeds. And then, when we gather ourselves.. nothing had fallen. I distinctly remember that before the crashing started, it was raining. Funny that as there are no clouds in the sky. So as we look up and see Turkey's flying in all directions, we've just realized that we scared the piss out of some turkey's.. literally.

Bogged Down
Bog is a short mountain but steep none-the-less. Near the top, Josh and Grant are talking about the game plan. When would Loni come in, when would Sarah come in and pace etc etc. They go on for about 10 minutes when I finally interject. "This has been a LOT tougher then I anticipated guys. We're hours behind. As it stands right now, we're not going to get to Sunapee even until sun-up (7am) and thats generous and based on how the day has gone so far. There is no way we're doing both of these Greenways so... I think the plan now is to get to Sunapee, hop in the car and drive to Dublin to hike Monadnock with everyone." Though they seemed hesitant, they agreed and that was the plan moving forward. As we reached the girls once again, we filled them in on how things were going to go down.

As we shop up in the aid station Loni arrives with pizza in her back seat. I grab a few slices of cheese pizza and pace around in the road. I tell Sarah the plan and let her know that I'm fine with it. I'm tired, I'm burnt out and I'm really struggling to get this thing done. I'm mentally and physically worked beyond what I had been prepared for.. yet I felt great. What an adventure we were all having together. Yet.. again I notice the crew is tired still... I'm really keen to how they're doing and it gets the gears turning in my head. Grant and I leave back into the woods on uncharted territory. Before we left, Josh told us about how up ahead the guidebooks talks about the trail being marked Red and White. Into the darkness we hike and seldom run. We continue talking as the night gets ever darker. The moon is up and Full, but the forest is dark under the canopy of firs. To our left is one lonely maple tree, illuminated by the moon light, like a heavenly oasis. We notice silently, with our headlamps off, as we slowly meander by.

Up ahead we start to lose the trail again. We find red paint and follow it to a  multitude of junctions. Trails seem to spin off to the left and the right. We forge ahead via the way we think is the way to go. We get lost again and again. We come up on logging roads and have no clue where the trail goes from here. We march up the trail and down. We look everywhere and then I spot what looks like a trail heading uphill to the right. Grant checks it out when a coyote runs across the trail in front of him. He yells to me and throws sticks and rocks into the woods hoping to scare it further away. As I approach, he has a club/stick in his hand and he'd run the rest of the way out of the woods (silly boy) yet I'm glad I have his protection in my tired and delusional state. We finally emerge out of the woods onto a logging road again when we see our first white marker for some time. I look uphill behind us and we realize.. we had spent the last 2 hours meandering around on an interpretive trail and off of the SRKG. We can't help but be angry.

We head down hill for a ways until we come up to Great Brook. We take a right and follow the brook uphill. We see a sign telling us where the road is and we follow the way it tells us to go. 15-20 minutes later we come to another sign that dumps us over a bridge and out onto another road. We get out on the road and we sit down in the ditch. I get out my cell phone and call the crew. I tell them our location which is uphill from them about a mile away. Sarah tells me where they are. "That's nice... we're up here..come up here." I can hear the frustration in her voice but we're not running downhill needlessly when they could easily come to us. So we wait and they arrive. We have no idea where we went wrong but once again, this crazy network of "trails" known as the SRKG has duped us once more. I'm exhausted from being lost and stagger to my moms car where I get in the passenger seat and try to sleep. The seat doesn't recline because of all the gear so I go to Loni's car where I doze off for a half hour. When I wake up, Loni is ready to go and it'll be her and I into the wild.

The Towel is Thrown
Loni and I head into the woods, get our bearings and continue to climb up Great Brook. It's still hard for us to find the trail and from time to time we're forced to stop and peer into the darkness in search of an indent in the leaves. Once we find it.. we continue on. We march slowly up hill, something I didn't expect much of in this section. They're killing me. Every so often I have to stop, catch my breath and then carry on. It's a death march at this point yet we're doing our best. We lose the trail again and this time when we find it, it heads up a steep 100' climb. I stop, turn around and tell Loni I need a break. I get out my don jacket, throw it on and then crash into the leaves. I lay down and sleep instantly, snowing away. I wake up at once point to the sound of coyotes howling in the distance. Loni is still standing the entire time, taking guard. I fall back to sleep.. and then just as quickly as I was out, I'm up. A few minutes later while still climbing uphill, I ask Loni how long I was out for. It felt like forever.. it was 10 minutes.

Then all of a sudden, the trails comes out onto a road and we have no clue where it goes. We head downhill on the road and look for trail markers.. anywhere. After 150-200 yards we find nothing so turn around and head back uphill then walk 150-200 yards the other way. We go back to the trail and search for trail markers across the road from where we came out, indicated by a spot on our map where it appears this happens. We bushwhack for a bit.. and nothing. After a half hour or searching, we call the crew and get Leah. The maps come out and she tries to help us. They think they know our location.. Loni takes out her Phone which has GPS.. we're way away from where the the crew thinks we are. they direct us to the south so we go. 400 yards down the road we see a marker, finally, and we know we're on track. We follow, it dumps us back into the woods where the guessing game continues. We keep getting lost, of trail, etc over and over and over.. I stop at one point and tell Loni.. this adventure is done kid. We can't keep doing this. She agrees.

We exit the trail by losing it again and ending up in someone's driveway. We know the crew is nearby so we decide to walk down the driveway to 114 and then figure out which direction to go. We et to 114 and call the crew. Josh comes running up the hill and we follow his headlamp. We meet up with him and take it into the aid stop. When we get there I take tally of the numbers. We've been on course for 24+ hours now and we've gone 58 Miles. 63 if you count all the back and forth of being lost. The crew is ragged, sleeping and cranky. I overhear Leah talking to Sarah in the background about ending the adventure. It was evident to me that the crew was as frustrated and tired as I and their level of fun has long since disappeared. I of course was having a great time enjoying being out in the wild, on this adventure, trying to find my way.. but I too agree that a certain level of fun has been lost to the conditions and safety concerns of myself and my crew. Up on that road Loni and I were lost on we actually considered laying in the road until the sun came up and finding our way out then. Not a feasible plan given the 20 degree temperatures. So it was with this that I decided, as I hopped into Josh's truck and fell asleep, that it was time for us all to go home.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

RANH 2010 Video

Thanks to our friends at Flip! Video, We were able to shoot some video during this years RANH. You can watch it below or by heading over to youtube. Just a little bit of footage and commentary from this years (frustrating) run.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

DENIED!

The 2010 Run Across NH has come and gone. Our chance to conquer something great has also come and gone. In 24 hours I travelled a measly 63 Miles of New Hampshire's rugged and rural terrain. In what was planned to be a "run" turned more into an orienteering hike as we tried to negotiate our way around the poorly marked SRKG.

In the coming days I'm excited to bring you a quality run report as well as a video thanks to our friends at Flip! Video.

Stay Tuned!

Miles Travelled: 63
Time: 24:10:13
Elev Gain: 12,611.4'
Elev Loss: 12,365.5'

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Run Preview: 2010 RANH

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Start: Saturday, October 23, 2010
Newbury, NH - Newbury Trail - 4AM
Official Clock Start: Lake Solitude - 5AM

Finish: Sunday, October 24, 2010
Mount Monadnock - Dublin, NH
Dublin Trail - Old Troy Road
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It's always hard to believe when the time comes to embark on another journey. Especially a journey of this size. God and stubbornness willing, we'll arrive on the summit of Mount Monadnock sometime Sunday Afternoon having completed something that's never been done before as well as my longest run ever. 128.8 Miles and yes, after I get back to the car I'll be running 1.2 miles to round it off at 130.

As I continue to walk around the UNH Campus, I continue to feel the urgency for this adventure. It's events like this that are undoubtedly important given the current social environment of our world. With the up and coming generation having a hard time keeping their phones off of their ears or fingers off the phones keyboard it's hard to not embark on a mission such as this. Within driving distance of over One Million and a Half People, the two Greenways of New Hampshire are vastly under-used and desolate. While people continue to flock to the White Mountains on peak-bagging missions, we continue to see the over-use of our Northern Trails and the neglect of our southern. Beyond that, we have a huge responsibility before us to continue to conserve what little lands are left in New Hampshire to ensure that the constant urban sprawl does not take over a land rich with vibrant cultural and ecological history.

With all of the above being said, I'm excited and nervous to be heading out for this wild adventure. To test the limits of human endurance and to realize Human potential once again. There are any questions about this years run. Of the 128 miles of trail I'm about to run, I've seen all of 20% of it. I have to rely heavily on the services of my crew of which many have hiked the MSG to completion and portions of the SKRG. This is the spirit of this years journey, to embark on a journey new to all of us where a surprise lurks around every corner.

Weather
Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 25. West wind between 9 and 13 mph.
Saturday: Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 50. West wind between 5 and 13 mph.
Saturday Night: A slight chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 30. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Sunday: A chance of showers, mainly after 9am. Cloudy, with a high near 52. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Goals
1.) Finish
2.) Sub 36 Hours
3.) Sub 40 Hours
1A:) Welcome 10 People Joining us on the trail

Again, we'd love to have you join us out on the trail. Below is a recap of everything we've talked about heading into this years run. You'll also find all of the INFO Links below which includes how and where to join. See you out there where my team and Conservation NH hopes you'll enjoy some of NH's beauty!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Monadnock Conservancy

Guest Writer Carolyn Wilson tells us about the Monadnock Conservancy and the vital work they due in protecting the worlds second most climbed mountain.
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Monadnock Conservancy
By: Carolyn Wilson

Home to approximately 649,393 acres of land, the Monadnock region is gradually (and voluntarily) becoming protected by the Monadnock Conservancy. This Conservancy is governed by a Board of Trustees made up of 15 members, and its headquarters are located in Keene, New Hampshire. The Monadnock Conservancy helps the people of the 35 towns of the Monadnock region to protect hundreds of acres of forests and wildlife habitat annually. Its mission is “to identify, promote, and actively seek protection of significant natural, aesthetic, and historic resources in the Monadnock Region; and to monitor and enforce the protection of lands in the trust.” Additionally, the Conservancy educates landowners on land protection options, trains volunteers to help with land conservation, presents information to interested groups of people and hosts an annual meeting to discuss land protection.

The Monadnock Conservancy’s goal is to conserve land that will support or enhance clean water, forestry and agriculture, wildlife, and recreation and scenery. New Hampshire is the second fastest growing state east of the Mississippi, and its resources are at risk, which has caused much growth pressure on these previously mentioned factors.

The Conservancy offers steps in exploring protection options. The first step is to contact the staff at the Monadnock Conservancy. This process can establish a common understanding of the landowner’s goals, and, if given permission from landowners, the staff can begin to research the property’s natural resources and other features. If the landowner and the staff agree to move forward, the Lands Committee of the Board of Trustees will visit the property and determine if the project meets the standards of the organization’s land protection criteria. Next, the staff conducts work on the property site including conducting hazardous waste assessments and continuing to research the natural resources through geographic information systems (GIS) analysis. The staff then works with the landowner to define the terms of the easement (a land protection option that leaves the land in private hands while permanently restricting development). Next, the Lands Committee brings the project to the Board for a final vote of acceptance. Finally, the staff completes a documentation of the property, recording the condition of the land (when the easement is signed) with the use of photographs, maps, etc.

Conservation programs such as this one ensure that future generations will benefit from people taking care of the land and its natural resources today. Many people enjoy hiking, bird-watching, swimming, etc., and most can agree that they would be devastated if they were no longer able to enjoy these “luxuries”. It is vital for people to protect their environment, and Monadnock Conservancy is one easy way to do this.

Monday, October 18, 2010

RANH: WHY?

It used to be easy to tell people what I do on my free time. "Oh.. I run 100 mile races and stuff.. it's fun." I get a really collection of responses and they're all the same. "I could never do that," "I don't even like to drive that far." "How do you do that.. better yet.. WHY?" Some of these responses I am able to provide a pretty candid response in return.

For instance, when someone says, "I could never do that" my reply is typically "And that's why." After I smirk at their puzzled look complete with slightly tilted head, I get to explain to the individual that the first step do doing something so grande is Believeing that you can. No one on this earth ever ran a marathon without first believing in their ability to even do so. Make no mistake about it.. this doesn't make running vast distances any easier, it's only the first step of many steps... many many steps if you want to turn it into a pun.

"I don't even like to drive that far." Who does? I mean, 128.8 miles. When you put it into perspective: If you drove from Boston, MA, 130 miles on the interstate system, you'd make it to Waterbury, CT. Who DOES like to drive that far? I know I don't but thats mostly because I'd rather spend my time otherwise. Like running, and pushing my body and mind to the limits to see what I'm made of and find out a little more in regards to who I am.

However it's the question "WHY?" that puzzles me the most. There is no static answer. A lot of ultra-runners like to reply simply with a "Because I can," but over the years I feel that this is more a cop-out as opposed to actually answering the question. Why... why? Hmmm.. this is something I struggle with during every run. I find myself all of 10 miles in thinking, "Why did I sign up for this." I guess there are a lot of reasons why and I'll try to list some of them now.

Moe
I think it all starts with my Grandfather. His nickname was "Moe" which is what he typically called everyone regardless of if he knew your name or not. He lived the last 14 years of his life in a Wheelchair following a major stroke. I have many memories of my grandfather, all of them good thankfully. He was my best friend but of all the years I knew him, I had more years with him in a wheelchair then with him walking. In 2006, I held his hand as he gasped his last breath and I watched him pass on from a battle with Cancer thanks to years working in a coal mine (black lung) and smoking cigarettes for 70+ years. I think about the heart disease and other ailments that seem to run through my genes and in all reality I'm kind of trying to stave off what doesn't need to be inevitable. But when I think about Moe I think about that damn wheelchair.. and when I run I run because he couldn't... and I always find myself talking to him while I'm "out there" letting him know that I'm running for the two of us.

Generational Discourse
I'm currently a senior at the University of New Hampshire. My wife went to school here for 6 years before I started. I've been on this campus for the last 10 years and as I look around and observe the different generations entering this institution, things are only getting worse. A recent article on Cnn.com talks about our obsession with Smartphones. Thats is never more evident in any other place then here. As I walk around campus it's hard to ignore the sheer number of "kids" who are stuffing their faces into their phone.. during class and while walking across campus... while they text or update Facebook. Why does this problem matter to RANH? In my experience with this population I'm finding that they're all missing out on observing the world around them. This same generation is starting to lack a certain level of appreciation that is needed when it comes to feeling the true need in preserving our natural environments. This is a much bigger problem than I think most people give credit towards.

For example: This past weekend I took a class trip to The Balsams Grand Resort in Dixville Notch New Hampshire. Dixville Notch is about even with the northern border of Vermont (49th parallel) and is settled within the real wild Great North Woods of NH. The trip was all expenses paid and included an immaculate dinner and breakfast. The first thing these kids complained about is the fact that there were no TV's in their bedrooms. Then, while taking a tour of this hotel (National Historic Registry and all) they could;t removed their faces and fingers from their phones. When we got to "The Ballot Room" where the 1st in the nation primary takes place... and people from all over the world know of this place.. these kids many of whom are all from New England had no idea that anything important even happens in this room... nor had they ever heard of it.

While here at UNH I've always included the UNH community into the Run Across New Hampshire. The last two years I've been featured in the school paper where articles have talked about "this crazy kid and his super long run" for fundraisers. I've always welcomed a small handful of students who have joined me.. and this has been great. But this is why this year's run is so important and why we've teamed up with Conservation NH. There is a LOT of work to do and more so in over crowded Sprawling New England then any other place in our country. We need to get people to see this natural beauty around them and we must get them to appreciate it. Before we left the Balsams Sunday the students got to get a view form the Panorama Golf Course.. their faces lit up at the view of the northern country side.. and 30 seconds later.. they were texting away. This is a HUGE problem and if you don't think it is now.. it's only just beginning.

New Hampshire
I love this state. It's where I've lived my entire life. But when I say state I'm talking about the land. The land is rugged yet gorgeous. From the White Mountains to the Connecicute and Merrimack River Valleys to the Ocean. I've hiked every 4000 footer this state has to offer, I've run from West to East, I've swam in the ocean, I've run the Belknap Range... Monadnock and the sunapee region is the only place in this state that I haven't explored up close and personal and it's important to me that not only I do this.. but that some other people do to. 130 Miles of Continuous trail... The Appalachian trail stretches 161 Miles from VT to ME borders... I wonder how many folks know that another long distance trail exists? And that's not all... you can leave format the summit of Monadnock and hike on the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail (MMT) all the way to dang near New Haven Connecticut!

This is another reason why this is such an important adventure. It was the 1950's when a few AMC members created the Appalachian Mountain Clubs Four Thousand Footer Club. They did this as a way to disperse the hikers in the White Mountains. Hikers, for years, had been over-populating the Franconia Ridge and the Presidential Range.. that something had to be done. So they created a list of all the 4000 Footers as a way to get people to explore "other places" in the mountains. It worked! But here we are in the 2010's and people are now flocking and over populating ALL of these peaks.. it's time once again for this idea of dispersant to be revisited. I hope through this adventure, folks will have an opportunity to learn about these two greenways in the hopes that folks will start to hike here as well and understand that even though the mountains are shorter, the woods are still quiet and adventure is abound, less populated.. you get the idea.

Unique
This adventure, like it's predessor of the last two years, is something that's never been done. No one has yet to run or hike the SKRG in its entirety in one day and no one has run the two greenways simultaneously. When I first got into ultra-running, I got into it because of its uniqueness. I wanted to run the 48 Four-Thousand footers in NH the fastest.. and as you've read here, it seems like running in the White's is no longer unique. So I'm taking my ball, if you will, to anew playground to try and showcase more of what this state has to offer.

Misc.
Hey, lets face it; I think this adventure it pretty important. It's important to get people outside. It's important to appreciate the world in which we live and the world around us. It's important to inspire and motivate others to reach for and achieve their own human potential. It's important that people know EXACTLY what it is that Conservation NH is doing to turn the tide on urban sprawl and responsible sustainable land management. And do I think I can do this? Hell yes I do... I wouldn't start if I didn't.. but time will still tell and that is the beauty of it all. That level of mystique and uncertainty.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Monadnock




The finish line of this years Run Across New Hampshire will be on the summit of Mighty Mount Monadnock. At 3,165 feet of elevation Monadnock towers above all other peaks, within a 30 mile radius, by more then 1000 feet and even garners its own treeline. The word "monadnock" originally comes from the Abnacki Indian language meaning "mountain that stands alone." Because Monadnock "stands alone", views from the treeless summit stretch far into the distance into surrounding states likeVermont and Massachusetts. Boston and the White Mountains are visible on a clear day.

Both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau visited the mountain and wrote fondly of it. Emerson was a frequent visitor, and made the mountain the subject of "Monadnoc", one of his most famous poems. Thoreau visited the mountain four times between 1844 and 1860 and spent a great deal of time carefully observing and cataloging natural phenomenon.

The earliest recorded ascent of Mount Monadnock took place in 1725 by Captain Samuel Willard and fourteen rangers under his command who camped at the top and used the summit as a lookout while patrolling for Native Americans. Before the practice came to be frowned upon, many early hikers carved their names in the summit; the earliest such engraving reads "S. Dakin, 1801" and is attributed to a local town clerk.

Notable "power hiking" records associated with the mountain include that of Garry Harrington who hiked to the summit sixteen times in a twenty-four hour period and Larry Davis, who claimed to have hiked to the summit daily for 2,850 consecutive days (7.8 years). Mount Monadnock is often promoted as the most hiked mountain in the United States as well as the second most hiked mountain in the world, with 125,000 hikers yearly, behindMount Fuji in Japan, with about 200,000 yearly hikers.

JOIN US! This years run will end on Sunday, October 24th via the climbing to and from the summit of Monadnock on the Dublin Trail. End time is expected anywhere from 2-6pm on Sunday. You can follow Sherpa's progress via Twitter to get an general sense of the time through live updates.

Founded in 1989, the Monadnock Conservancy is the only land trust dedicated exclusively to the 35 towns of the Monadnock Region. Every year the Conservancy helps the people of the Region protect hundreds of acres of forests, farms, wildlife habitat, shoreland, hiking trails, and more.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

MSG


The second portion of this years Run Across New Hampshire will take place on the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway (MSG). After returning to Mount Sunapee after the initial 78 miles of our run, we'll head south along the MSG towards the summit of Mount Monadnock. The MSG was first created by The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. The trail runs through three NH state parks, and now over 80 private land owners voluntairily agree to host the trail, and in some cases, campsites on their land. Those looking to hike the entire trail in one shot typically take 3-4 days. The idea for the trail was first suggested by Allen Chamberlain whose goal it originally was to connect this trail with Mount Moosilauke in New Hampshire's White Mountains, an the vast network of trails in the north.

The trail followed the old roads past farms and small New England villages where innkeepers offered simple room and board. During the Great Depression the trail fell into disuse. The 1938 Hurricane and the advent of World War II effectively ended the original trail; it was not maintained again. The new route was developed after a summer-long study by the Forest Society in 1974. The trail travels through the towns of Newbury, Goshen, Washington, Stoddard, Harrisville, Dublin and Jaffrey.

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
Around since 1901 it is now one of the nations most effective statewide land conservation organizations. As a non-profit membership organization, the Forest Society is dedicated to protecting the state's most important landscapes while promoting the wise use of its renewable natural resources. made up of over 10,000 members, this organization helps protect 928 NH Properties totaling 166,603 acres of land. They do abundant work with easements, permanent land acquisitons, land management, advocacy and education.

1915:
 The Forest Society acquires title to 600 acres on Mount Monadnock, beginning a process that ends up protecting more than 4,000 acres on the landmark mountain.
1948: The Forest Society transfers its 1,116 acres on Mount Sunapee to the state of New Hampshire.
1970: The Forest Society opens an EcoCenter at Mount Monadnock to teach the 75,000 annual visitors about the mountain's ecology.
1971: The Forest Society negotiates its first conservation easement, which allows landowners to keep their land while preventing future development.

A large portion of the final 50 miles of our journey travels along the rural roads of the Monadnock Region via the MSG. The trail wins it way through old pastures and farm lands, long since abandoned cellar holes and pieces of history many of the 1.4 million living in New Hampshire know very little about. We're excited to bring a piece of this forgotten history to life through the efforts of our run.

Pictures from The MSG
Mount Sunapee
Fern Forest on Lovewell Mtn.
Pillsbury State Park
The View from Pitcher Mountain
Mount Monadnock

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

SKRG

This years Run Across New Hampshire begins on Mount Sunapee along the shore of Lake Solitude. From here, we'll travel counter-clockwise around the Sunapee-Kearsarge-Ragged Greenway (SKRG). The SKRG is a 75 Mile trail/greenway that travels through the mountains and hills of the following towns: Newbury, Sutton, Warner, Wilmot, Andover, Danbury, New London, Springfield, Sunapee and Goshen. It is maintained by a dedicated group of local volunteers. The Greenway has been broken down into 14 segments of which maps can be retrieved on the SKRG website. They've broken the 75 miles down into these segments, perfect for dayhikes, because of the lack of shelters and/or camping locations due to landowner restrictions.

"The Greenway's mission is to create and maintain a forever green, great circle of trail corridors and conserved lands providing walkers with minimally-developed access to the mountains, lakes, vistas and historical sites of the region." The idea for the greenway was devised in the mid-1980's thanks to the hardwork of The Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust, The Society For the Protection of NH Forests, Lake Sunapee Protective Association and various local conservationists.

They protect 111 Properties (8,628 Acres) in the 12 towns the SKRG travels through. Their most recent project was the preservation of Star Lake Farm in Springfield, a 1559 Acre parcel of land which is vital to water protection for the area.

Around since 1901 it is now one of the nations most effective statewide land conservation organizations. As a non-profit membership organization, the Forest Society is dedicated to protecting the state's most important landscapes while promoting the wise use of its renewable natural resources. made up of over 10,000 members, this organization helps protect 928 NH Properties totaling 166,603 acres of land. They do abundant work with easements, permanent land acquisitons, land management, advocacy and education.
In 1911 it was this group that purchased 656 Acres on Mount Sunapee to keep it from being clear-cut.

LSPA wasfounded in 1898 and is a member-supported non-profit educational organization. They are dedicated to preserving and enhancing the special environment of the Lake Sunapee region. They strive to achieve this mission through education, research and collaborative action.

Without the above three organizations, their tireless work and the cooperation of the many landowners; the SKRG doesn't exist. A lot of the SKRG travels across trails built by volunteers in these same organizations as well as others such as The NH Trailwrights. On our journey around the SKRG on the weekend of October 23-24; we'll not only travel along some of these trails but we'll journey through farms and forests owned by many private land owners. We'll also journey down along some of New Hampshire's forgotten roads, some 200 years old, that are no longer accessible to wheeled traffic. This glimpse at a history long ago is just another fascinated aspect of what is going to make this journey so epic.

To learn more about the Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway visit their website HERE

Pictures From On The SKRG
Lake Solitude From The Start (Jim Block Photography)
View from the summit of Kearsarge South
Ragged Mountain
Aerial View of Lake Sunapee
Mount Sunapee from on the Lake

Sunday, October 10, 2010

RANH: The Route

Once again, the mission of this years Run Across NH is "To provide inspiration and encouragement for the general public to engage in the outdoor arena." As has been stated on this blog and elsewhere, there is no better way to get outside the Weekend of October 23-24 then by joining us on our journey. If you've been thinking about, are thinking about it and want to come on out; this post is for you.

Crewing
An experienced crew has been set up to help in assisting the run. The amount of food, drink and supplies needed to see this endeavor through is mind boggling. My team of dedicated volunteers are prepared to travel to all of the events 28 Aid Stations. They drive to each aid station, wait for the runners arrival, and then they spring into action! They'll have carried everyone's food and drink from station to station and are even available to provide runners a ride back to their vehicles after they've had enough. While we all ready have a crew of 5+ folks, we could always use more people to take a shift and allow some of the grizzled vets a chance to get a breather.

Running/Hiking
The best way to participate in this event is to join us out on the trail. You can do so by running/hiking with Sherpa John from one aid station to the next (or a "Leg"). Each leg is listed below underneath the Greenway they are apart of. You can click on the link of each leg to get a map complete with mileage and elevation profile. Each leg is also rated by difficulty according to color (noted below). Please note that all maps are NOT entirely accurate and are used for the purposes of provided yourself a general idea of our route and terrain features we'll be traversing.

"I'm not in good enough shape to run with Sherpa John."
That's fine! We just want you to get outside. Get out and hike one of the sections on your own and send us a photo of your trip. Or, hike a segment in reverse and perhaps we'll cross paths and exchange hello's and how-do-you-do's!

Difficulty Ratings: Each leg of the adventure has its mileage rated by color. (Ex. 5 mi = an easy section). These ratings are based on the opinion of a "mid to back of the pack" runner. Your opinion may differ but we've done our best to give you an idea of what each section is like.
GREEN = Easy - Road (Paved/Dirt/Snowmobile)
YELLOW = Easy-Medium (Trail/Road minimal climbs)
ORANGE = Medium-Hard (Trails/Road w/Climbs)
RED = Hard (Trail Climbs)

(To View Each Leg, Just Click On Its Unique Link)

SKRG LEGS: Legs 1-15 Take Place on the Sunapee-Kearsarge-Ragged Greenway
Leg 1 - Newbury Harbor to Lake Solitude and Back: 5 Miles
Leg 2 - Newbury Harbor to Calk Pond: 4.4 mi
Leg 3 - Chalk Pond to Wadleigh State Park: 5.4 mi
Leg 4 - Wadleigh State Park to Kearsarge Valley Rd: 3.9 mi
Leg 5 - Kearsarge Valley Rd. to Winslow State Park: 5.8 mi
Leg 6 - Winslow State Park to Proctor Academy: 6.0 mi
Leg 7 -  Proctor Academy to New Canada Rd: 6.1 mi
Leg 8 - New Canada Rd. to Wilmot Center Rd: 4.2 mi
Leg 9 - Wilmot Center Rd. to NH 4A: 4.4 mi
Leg 10 - NH 4A to Great Brook Bridge: 3.2 mi
Leg 11 - Great Brook Bridge to Springfield-New London Rd: 8.4 mi
Leg 12 - Springfield-New London Rd to Deer Hill Rd: 4.1 mi
Leg 13 - Deer Hill Rd to Sunapee Town Office: 7.3 mi
Leg 14 - Sunapee Town Office to Old Provice Rd: 7.3 mi
Leg 15 - Old Provice Rd to Sunapee Summit: 2.5 mi
(Leg 15 Must be done either as an out and back (5mi) or combined with MSG Leg 16(12.3mi))
Total SKRG Miles = 78 Miles


MSG LEGS: Legs 16-27 take place on the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway
Leg 16 - Sunapee Summit to Washington-Bradford Rd: 9.8 mi
Leg 17 - Washington-Bradford Rd to Half Moon Pond Boat Ramp: 5.2 mi
Leg 18 - Half Moon Pond Boat Ramp to Advent Church: 4.5 mi
Leg 19 - Advent Church to Hubbard Hill Lot: 4.3 mi
Leg 20 - Hubbard Hill Lot: Pitcher Mountain Lot: 3.0 mi
Leg 21 - Pitcher Mountain Lot to Center Pond Boat Launch: 3.1 mi
Leg 22 - Center Pond Boat Launch to Route 9 Crossing: 3.4 mi
Leg 23 - Route 9 Crossing to Nelson Green: 2.4 mi
Leg 24 - Nelson Green to Childs Bog Dam: 3.5 mi
Leg 25 - Childs Bog Dam to Route 101 Crossing: 3.8 mi
Leg 26 - Route 101 Crossing to Dublin Trail Lot: 3.4 mi
Leg 27 - Dublin Trail Lot to Monadnock Summit to Dublin Trail Lot: 4.4 mi
Total MSG Miles = 50.8


Map of Entire Route
Total RANH Miles = 128.8


JOIN US FOR THE FINAL LEG! (Leg 27) UP AND DOWN MOUNT MONADNOCK!
SUNDAY AFTERNOON/EVENING - OCTOBER 24, 2010


:WARNING:WARNING:WARNING:
All participants do so at their own risk. Sherpa John, his crew and/or Conservation NH are not liable or responsible for your participation or actions/poor decisions during this event. KNOW YOUR OWN ABILITIES! Those who choose to participate should be in appropriate physical condition according to the level of difficulty for the terrain you chose to cross. Much of the areas we'll be traveling through should only be accessed by individuals in some kind of acceptable physical and mental condition. Also, participants should seriously note the time of year and know that weather in the mountains can change dramatically. To better prepare yourselves for your participation in this event, look at the HIKE-SAFE guidelines.

What You Should Bring If Going w/Sherpa
Water, Sports Drink, Food, A Headlamp/Flashlight if towards the darker ends of the day or at night, Misc. First Aid Items, Extra Socks, Weather Appropriate Clothing for Running and walking.


If you're interested in participating by crewing or running/hiking with Sherpa, please contact Leah Belanger at: leah.belanger@gmail.com

If you can't make it to the SKRG or MSG, we encourage you to get out in your local area or an area of your preference and let us know what you did!

As Always, to stay up to speed with Sherpa's Progress and Location during this years RANH, you can follow along on twitter! www.twitter.com/sherpajohn Use this to plan when you'll join!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

RANH: History Fin

Prior to Mike Beeman's 1997 and 2002 running of New Hampshire from North to South, there's really only one other occurrence of some kind of similar run across the state. A well know New England runner and running historian Pete Stringer reports:
"His name was Michael White, a real free spirit, and it was about 1980 or 81. I think the year before he had hiked the Appalaichian Trail. This was an endurance run to hopefully inspire his friend who was fighting cancer, and his goal was to run through or touch five states. I ran with him the part from Peterborough to Keene on 101. He started in Salem, (NH)I believe, and ran through southern Vermont and touched NY before going down in Mass. and ending somewhere in Connecticutt. Not sure how long it was but I think he said 135 miles or so. Salem would be 15 or 20 miles west of the NH coastline,so technically it wasn't all the way across New Hampshire.
I had tried to get him interested in marathons or regular road running races, but he never bit. (I didn't run my first ultra race myself until 1990 - there just wasn't many around) Last I heard Mike was out in New Mexico flying crop dusters, but he would be an old man now. I am 69 and he was at least four or five years older than me."
So there it is, a 45 year old man venturing out to run through or touch 5 of the 6 New England States all in an attempt to inspire a friend who was fighting cancer. His 1981 Run Across NH started in Salem, NH and wound it's way west where he crossed over into Vermont on Route 9. There are no photos, there is no report, hell I can't even find the now 70+ year old "crop-duster," but his history remains.

As we head into this years Run Across NH I felt this historical series was necessary to not only take a look at those who dared to run before me, but necessary to simply uncover the history of Running Across the state. From time to time, I get e-mails from anonymous folks who like to argue that I wasn't the first to Run Across the width of NH. I have yet to find any further proof of this and my search was not only thorough but exhaustive. I called and spoke to a handful of 70+ year old runners from New Hampshire and beyond who would know this history and they themselves are unable to name any other runners.

So From Michael White's Run from Salem, NH to Vermont then 3 other New England States.. to Mike Beeman's 8 Day North to South Make-A-Wish Run.. to Kurt Stuke's Saturday jaunts from Vermont to Hampton, it remains true that I am the first person to have run Across New Hampshire's Widest part (From Brattleboro, VT to Rye.. Western-most to Eastern-Most Point) and in one continuous trip. What surprised me the most is how a like all of our stories to run across New Hampshire have been. Each and every one of these runs was done as a way to inspire others to move.

I think back to Mike Beeman's run's across New Hampshire. I remember seeing him on the news, pushing his daughter in the stroller, then later pushing his son. I lived in Derry at the time and he taught in Londonderry and later my Alma-Matter. I'd be lying if I told you Mike didn't inspire me to run across the state in 2008. As I head into this year run, I now have 3 stories to inspire me.

1981: Michael White - Salem, NH to Brattleboro, VT
1997: Michael Beeman - Canada/Pittsburgh, NH to Salem, NH (1st and only person to have RANH N-S)
2002: Michael Beeman - Canada/Pittsburgh, NH to Salem, NH
2003: Kurt Stuke - Hinsdale, NH to Rye, NH (9 Saturdays)
2008: "Sherpa" John Lacroix - Brattleboro, VT to Rye, NH (1st and only person to have run width of NH W-E Non-stop)
2009: "Sherpa" John Lacroix - Brattleboro, VT to Rye, NH
(2010: "Sherpa" John Lacroix - SKRG - MSG)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

RANH 1997: Mike Beeman

In 1997 a man by the name of Mike Beeman caught the attention of every resident in New Hampshire. He was running the length of New Hampshire from Canada to Massachusetts. Something that had never been done before or since. He did it while pushing his daughter in a running stroller and called it Miles for Smiles.. this is Mike's Story.


Name: Mike Beeman
Age: 54
Location: Currently living in Tifton Georgia
Athletic Achievements: 108,250 lifetime miles, 1078 races, 86 marathons, 33 consecutive Boston Marathons

SJ: Mike, thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your historic runs across New hampshire. You ran the 240 miles from Canada to Massachusetts not once, but twice, and it's a real honor to have this
opportunity to speak with you about your adventures.
MB: I appreciate the thoughts. I thought more or less people forgot about the Border to Border runs. It was basically 8 days of 30 miles a day. The goal was to raise money for Make A Wish.

SJ: So tell us about the first time you ran across NH vertically, what was your route?
MB: The route was pretty basic. Canadian Border , Route 3 South (Pittsburg) Route 26 across Errol (Dixville Notch) and then Route 28 South the rest of the way.

SJ: Why did you decide to take on quite a daunting challenge as 240 miles of running?!
MB: I wanted to combine passion with purpose. The idea came to me in the summer of 1997 and I was pushing Melanie (Daughter) in a stroller. I came home, talked to my wife at the time and she thought it
was a great idea. I called Make A Wish and they thought that I was crazy!

SJ: In thinking about doing the run, how many days did you think it would take you and is that indeed how long it took?
MB: I planned from the get go, 30 miles a day, 8 days and called it 240 miles of smiles.

SJ: So the first year you pushed your daughter in a stroller; Can you tell us a little about why you decided to bring her along with you?
MB: It was a natural! I was doing most of my training with her anyways and thought why not?

SJ: So this was a fundraiser or Make-A-Wish, how did you come about choosing Make-A-Wish as your
charity?
MB: I had a friend, Dave McMullen of Hampstead who lost a child to cancer at the age of 8. I could not
imagine that happening to me. Dave started a Make A Wish race in Hampstead and raised thousands of dollars for M A W and I thought it was a noble cause.

SJ: Now it was 2002 when you repeated the feat only this time, you pushed your son; Why did you
decide to do it again?
MB: I figured that I knew the course. I was fit, lets do it again!!!! It was much easier the second time
around.
SJ: Running 240 Miles over the course of 8 days had to me a struggle both mentally and physically. What was the hardest part about the adventure to you?
MB: The first time I had NO idea how to run it. I broke it up into ten mile segments and thought that was the smartest way. The first day was through Pittsburg for 33 miles and I thought that I would be crippled for life! I underestimated how dehydrated you can get. The second day was tough but once I started seeing civilization and people (Berlin and South) I got my second wind.

SJ: What kind of variable did pushing your children add to your run (good or bad)?
MB: It added to the degree of difficulty, especially going over hills/ mountains (Mt Washington was
torture) Melanie was such a cutie, I think she received over 50 beanie babies! It also created a lifelong
bond with my children.

SJ: Now you live and work in Georgia, did you know that there is an organized Run Across Georgia? http://run100miles.com/run-across-georgia/
MB: I was not aware of this

SJ: In running across New Hampshire twice, what can you say it was that made you go back to do it again or maybe intrigued you to do it in the first place? What was it about the adventure?
MB: I did it for purpose as opposed to adventure. I wanted to raise enough money to grant a wish (4,000
dollars) and ended up with 23,000 each time TOTAL 46,000 dollars plus. By doing something extreme, it makes the cause more prominent.

SJ: How life changing of an experience was it in the end?
MB: It made me appreciate life, and allowed me to reconsider why I run. It gave running more purpose and taught me not to give up when people think that your idea is ridiculous.

SJ: Would you do it again?
MB: In a heartbeat!

SJ: Mike, thanks again for taking the time to speak to us about your runs across New Hampshire. We'll be thinking of you the weekend of October 23rd when we're out there. Many people have told me that
since we've run West to East.. we have to run North to South. I've always told them it's been done and
mention you.. and you're part of the inspiration for this years version of a North to South Adventure so..
thank you.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

RANH 2006: Kurt Stuke

In the Fall of 2006, a man by the name of Kurt Stuke set out on an adventure that would change his life forever. He set up a route from one end of New Hampshire to the other, all in an effort to raise money for a local school. Kurt dared to Run Across NH and it's important as we move forward we continue to recognize those who dared to move before us. I took a chance in hunting this man down and he graciously accepted an invite to conduct an interview for this blog. Here is his story:

Name:
Kurt Stuke
Age: 47
Location: Manchester, NH
Years Running: 8
Athletic Achievements: Endurance Fitness Trainer Certification (ISSA) 2008,  Personal Trainer Certification (AFPA) 2006, 
Run Across New Hampshire 2006: Organized a point-to-point run across New Hampshire (from Hinsdale to Hampton) as a benefit for Holy Family Academy High School, Manchester, NH
Team In Training 2005 - 2007
Triathlon Mentor New Hampshire Triathlon Team Runner
Recently completed 5th marathon as a charity runner for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center; will be running MDI in October 2010 (and hopefully Manchester in November for the 4th year straight!)

SJ: Kurt, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us about your previous Run Across New Hampshire.
KS: You are welcome! I had meant to contact you two years ago after reading an NPR piece on you and your Ultra running. Thanks for reaching out.

SJ: So when was it that you ran across New Hampshire and what was the format for your run (non-stop, legs?)
KS: I ran back in the Fall of 2006 – I cannot believe that was 4 years ago! At the time, I had not run any marathons and was intimidated by anything longer than 20 miles. As a result I decided upon a point-to-point approach. I designed a 9 leg course to be run on consecutive Saturday mornings. The longest leg was approximately 15 miles and the shortest was approximately 10. I believe the average was 12 (or so).

SJ: So what was it that got you to get out there to take on the run? Was it a fundraiser?
KS: I was motivated by several things. We live in a beautiful state and I wanted to see as much of it as I could. I had lost a great deal of weight and enjoyed “pushing” myself and seeing just what I could do. I had been involved with Team In Training and saw that I could help worthy causes by raising money; I decided to use this event to raise money for a local high school in Manchester.

SJ: Besides raising funds for the church, how did you come about the idea of running across the state?
KS: I guess what motivated me, at the core, was a desire to continue the transformation that had begun when I decided to take that first step. It’s strange how running changes things, changes perspectives. It was that changed perspective that really gave birth to the challenge…

SJ: Tell us a little more about the route you took.
KS: Well, I started in Hinsdale and finished near Hampton. I believe the total was approximately 124 miles but I would have to check and verify as it has been a while. I ran through Fitzwilliam, Rindge, and into Peterborough. Once in Peterborough I ‘called an audible’ and got off the beaten path. My route took me over a mountain and into New Boston. Once I reached Manchester I got on the Lake Massabesic trail and took the trail to its trailhead near Stratham. The last 15 miles or so I got on some back roads and enjoyed the flatness of the seacoast.

SJ: Was there a particular section of the state where the legs seemed harder than the others?
KS: For me, the western part of the state was, as runner’s say, “moderately challenging.” Translated, that means “mind numbingly hard!” 
SJ: How long did the run take you to complete?
KS: I did it over 9 days.

SJ: Despite the run being conducted as a series of runs, do you know what your actual run time was of all the stages combined?
KS: I do not know. I would run for 50 minutes and stop for 5 and then “lather, rinse, and repeat.”

SJ: Looking back on the experience, what would you say was the hardest part for you?
KS: Hmmm – I think the hardest part was trekking out to begin a leg and the time commitment required on every leg. Luckily, I did this prior to my wife and I having a little girl – I no longer have that amount of free time!

SJ: So what was the best part about it?
KS: As you have said to me, it’s all about the journey. Emerson once said that “everything good is found on the highway.” There is something freeing about challenging yourself and putting all previously held notions about yourself, your abilities, and your reality aside. To me, that is the journey. Running, like coffee in the morning, helps bring about a state of wide-awakeness. Wow – maybe I should be in marketing?

SJ: Now you're working on your masters and as part of your course work, you've tied running into that a bit. Can you tell us a little about that?
KS: Sure. Actually I am working on a Doctorate in Transformational Leadership. My Masters are in Philosophy and Theology – I have always been interested in “meaning” and how we “get” meaning. Where are we going and how ought we to get there have always been questions that have captured my imagination. In a previous PhD program, I studied the thinking of Aquinas and Anselm but left and joined the working world. 17 years later, I saw this program and jumped at the chance to study transformation and the philosophical grounds upon which it is cultivated. In my middle age, I have turned to the American thinkers, e.g. Emerson, Thoreau, James, Dewey, etc., in order to search for answers and to continue what running has started for me. Much of my coursework involves an exploration of running as a non-cognitive approach to the establishing of meaning. Running (and experience in general) frees us from intellectual abstractions and needless loyalties to antecedent concepts. To put it less technically, when you are running, you are probably not contemplating if the self is objective or subjective. You are simply a runner running. What if we could harness that unboundedness in all aspects of our lives?

SJ: Why is this subject so important to you that you've decided to make it a part of your thesis work?
KS: At one point I weighed over three hundred pounds and needed two liters of diet coke just to make it through the day. Transformation is not some distant “brainiac” topic for me. Running help me lose over 100 pounds. It altered my chemistry (and other stuff!) such that my wife and I were able to have a child. Every time I hold my little girl I am reminded in the most moving of ways of what transformation is. Now, instead of letting myself be defined by what cannot be done (what is impossible) I define myself by what can be done (what is possible). It was that small seemingly insignificant little change that led me to ask “Can I run across NH?” Now, of course, the question has morphed into “Can I do it as an Ultra?” or “I wonder if I could do the second half - from Manchester to Portsmouth – in one day?” And so it goes…
SJ: In your research, what have you concluded thus far about running/adventure that makes it so life changing?
KS: I think running (and experience in general) can be used to free us from the very reasonable Post-Enlightenment common sense approach of being cognitive or intellectual about life. Running (and experience) demonstrates that reality is not clear and distinct – what we observe are “things in the making.” Running helps us to appreciate the unpredictable nature of being in the world, the need to reinstate the vague, and our need of one another on this journey. Running is not the only activity that offers this insight but, for me, it brings these issues forward in such a way that a response is demanded of me.

SJ: Lastly Kurt.. you have a blog?
KS: I do. As part of my dissertation work, I am keeping a blog and am chronicling my preparation for an upcoming marathon. Here is the URL: http://www.runninganddoing.org

SJ: Kurt, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us about your 2006 Run Across New Hampshire. Your adventure is truly inspirational. It is my only hope that many of the folks who read this blog can understand that.. sometimes it's the journey more than the destination and sometimes we don't get there all in one shot but, we can get there regardless.
KS: Thank you for your time!