Update - added elevation profile and overview map
Today was my 4th consecutive weekend of trail racing (10m, 6k, 17.5m and 23k distances). I'm not a big believer of tapering for my weekend excursions so during this period I also maintained my typical weekly mileage. I have to admit, I'm a little tired, and felt it today early on in the race. Reach the Beach is coming up at the end of the week so I'm going to have to force myself to take a couple of days off (not taper) and rest up. Ok, now on to today's race!
The Pisgah 23k takes place in New Hampshire's largest state park, and one I've never heard of. Heck, I can't say I've heard of Chesterfield either (the location of the start/finish). In case you were wondering, Chesterfield is about 10 miles due west of Keene, and just a couple of miles from the Vermont border.
There were two races today, a 23k short course and a 50k long course. I opted for the short course today. Since both races started together and followed the same course for the first couple of miles, there was no way to tell how many runners were doing the 23k or 50k. It was a safe bet that most of the folks up front (who shot off like it was a 5k) were doing the 23k. Ben Nephew & George Adams, who probably had the closest finish EVER in any trail race back in 2006 (when they finished the 23k in near identical times of 1:33:57), Josh Ferenc, and a bunch of young guys who all had their heads shaved for some reason (I'm guessing they lost a bet) all rocketed to the front on the fast downhill start. So in a 14.2 mile trail race my position was essentially set in the first 10 seconds.
Most of the first 2 miles of this race was on paved and dirt roads that lead up to the Pisgah trail head. There was a short downhill at the start and then a couple of decent climbs (one on pavement and one on dirt). The 50k folks split off to the left not long after entering the Pisgah State Park and the shorties continued straight on the Reservoir Trail, which was a very runnable doubletrack trail. The course was so well marked with pink ribbons that it would be impossible to go off course. Even with the rain the previous couple of days there was very little mud and my feet never got wet the entire day. Nothing overly technical, just the same ole roots and rocks we've come to love in New Hampshire. The Reservoir Trail was lots of short ups and downs sprinkled with a ton of moss-covered wooden bridges strategically placed at the bottoms of the downs (at least it seemed that way). In general I'd say the net effect was we were climbing more than we were descending.
At mile 6.7 we came to the first of two manned aid stations. Temps today were in the mid 60's and my hand-held water bottle was doing just fine so I motored on by. The course then heads up the Pisgah Mt Trail (gee, I wonder where this trail goes?) and the serious climbing began. If I remember correctly this 2 mile trail was the only single track we ran on all day and some of the most difficult running (up and down). I just had nothing for the climbs and felt very tired (not a good thing at the half way point), losing a couple more positions. I don't like getting passed in general and I HATE getting passed after the 1/2 way point of a race. I always interpret this as me fading as opposed to the other runner surging. As I struggled up Pisgah Mt trying to maintain contact with the runner in front of me I could now hear another runner coming up behind me. Oh crap, there goes another spot. I held him off for nearly 2 miles but shortly after the second manned aid station at mile 9 I was swallowed up. Anyone else care to pass while I'm suffering?
The next 4 miles were back on doubletrack trails (Davis Hill Trail and Hubbard Hill Trail). The only thing that made these trails slow were my tired legs. Otherwise they'd be some nice (maybe even fast) trails to run on. The terrain was a bit easier now, with mostly small rollers to deal with. The last mile or so to the trail head exit on Winchester Road was mostly downhill and once we hit Winchester Road we had about 1 1/2 miles of dirt and paved roads to the finish at the Chesterfield Fire Dept.
Update: results posted
This is a great race, well supported and run by some of the nicest people I've seen so far. Scan all this history and get yourself a website already!