Frigid Caboose 50K
Rockingham Recreation Trail +
Manchester - Newfield, NH
There really isn't much to stay about a run that includes 25+ miles of mostly flat railroad grade. For as far as your could see looking east you saw flat rail bed. And for as far as your eyes could peer West, you saw the same rail bed you just ran on. I could tell you that it wasn't exciting but, it rather was. For the entire day we ran on the very edge of the packed down rail bed. The bed is groomed by many local snowmobile clubs who drag a grate behind the groomer to pack it down after big storms. Then, the snowmobiles by the dozens go back and forth all day long. Some were courteous to us, slowing down to ere on the side of safety, waived hello and informed us of how many were behind them. While some were pricks.. speeding down the trail along side us, fishtailing to kick up clouds of wet snow, revving their engines and trying to prove a point which to this moment.. I still have no idea what is was.
Then there are the tunnels. Since the closure of this railroad, the many towns of Southern, NH have built up their roads over, and under, the old rail bed. In order to keep the trail open for recreation use, tunnels were built and we went through maybe 4 of them along our way.
The other cool part of this trail is that it's just one of many snowmobile trails in New Hampshire. Given the amount of snow we've had this year, all trails are actually open which has been a rarity over the last few winters. We came to a junction at one point that offered up a sign with a map of the area trails. After a glance at the map, I quickly read through the map that the trail we were crossing met up with a spot we were at 2 weekends ago out at Bear Brook State Park and from there, you can connect to Pawtuckaway, or even Nate's house in Bow which means we could technically run these trails all the way to Vermont if we wanted. It's really quite exciting and fascinating though disappointing to know that the trails are not maintained for summer use as they are for winter use.
The trail runs along many beautiful bogs, swamps, marches, lakes and ponds which dot the landscape in the area. Frozen over now, these spots offer up a chance to catch a gorgeous view.
As we entered Raymond it was like running into nostalgia. Here in Raymond is the old Train Depot for the Portsmouth & Concord Railroad which also connect to the B&M. It was 1845 when this rail line was built and operational and it stayed as thus until 1945. It was 1855 when the first company who owned the rail declared bankruptcy and this pretty much maintained the history of the line as various owners operated it over the years. In 1982 the State of NH purchased the line and it has been a recreational trail ever since. So as we ran into Raymond it was super cool to see the relics of days of old hanging out in this quaint New Hampshire town.
But still, the real excitement was in Raymond for sure, just not at the old Depot. It was at Dunkin' Donuts. Steve had showed up to offer us some support. While we waited for Josh and Leah to bring it in, I decided now was a good time to pee. I was wearing my micro spikes so heading inside the DnD was not a swift option of mine. So I elected for the dumpster. I walked over to the dumpster and saw aline of about 15 cars in the drive-thru. So I walked in a bit deeper to ensure I was hidden from plain sight. I let fly and peed, then after "putting it away" I headed back to our crew vehicle when I hear a "HEY! NEXT TIME THINK! I HAVE KIDS IN THE CAR!" I looked at an angry guy standing up in his car with his body hanging half out his window while he was at the food window of the drive-thru. I looked at him and just gave him a thumbs up and walked away.
This story is too good to be over. This guy wasn't done. After getting his food, this guy (who had a Fremont Fire&Rescue placard on his car) drove right up to us with the passenger window down and began yelling at me over his wife. "NEXT TIME THINK! I HAVE KIDS IN THE CAR!" I looked in the back seat to see two kids sitting in car seats ages 2 and 3 maybe. I looked at the drive and said, "Hey mean, it's no big deal, everybody pees, even your kids." He replies, "NO IT IS A BIG DEAL! I'M GOING TO CALL THE POLICE FOR INDECENT EXPOSURE!" To which I replied, "It wasn't indecent exposure you idiot, it's not like you saw my penis." As he was ready to get out of the car to fight and really show his kids how to set an example, and between the beatings I'm sure this guy gives his wife.. they drove off.
Josh and Leah came into the parking lot having missed the excitement. They had reached their goal of running to the halfway point. We said our goodbyes as Nate, Julie and I headed out for more while Steve played the role of support at a few of the upcoming road crossings. As the temperatures continued to climb throughout the day, the hard pack granular we had to run on was getting harder to find. I was super glad to have had my Kahtoola Mikro-Spikes over my Brooks shoes though my feet were soaked and getting cold. My legs were tired as I hadn't run this far since mid-October. Between cramps, fatigue and trying to keep up with the speed demons, I was in and out of the weeds. Though I'll be the first to admit I accomplished everything with a huge smile on my face.
At the end of the trail Nate was looking for the cars. I got a real kick out of explaining to him that in typically Sherpa Style, this race has some nuts to it. I explained that we had 3.5 miles left on the road. We headed out to 108 and I told Julie and Nate to take a right at the next light and they'll find the cars some 3 miles down the road from there.. "come and pick me up when you get there." They took off running and I followed behind at my own pace, soon losing sight of them. As I ran through the center of Newfields, I laughed and knew that these guys weren't going to come get me. The final 3 miles I set up was all long rolling hills that pass through open farm space. Which means after 25 miles of flat, they were being forced to run with different muscles (tired as well) over hills that now seem epic, through fields where the winds whipped across.. while I laughed and chuckled and enjoyed my own torture, I knew that at the car there'd still be beer waiting for me.