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Downtown Temple,NH

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Stone Cat Course Preview

In November I'll be doing my first trail marathon (Stone Cat), put on by the folks at G.A.C. The marathon is actually the short race of the day, with a 50 miler going on at the same time. I am told if you want to do your 1st 50, this is the place to do it. The volunteers and support crews are top notch and the course is very runnable. Well just because I was told that doesn't mean I'm going to do it. I mean, it's 50 friggin miles! So, I opted for the shorty.

The course is a 12.5 mile clockwise loop run entirely in Willowdale State Park in Ipswich,Ma. The marathon does 2 loops (plus a little extra at the start to spread runners out and get you to 26.2 miles), and the 50 milers do 4 loops. I emailed the RD to see if he had a course map (Mike Wade and I had planned to run the course on Thursday) and he offered to run with us instead. Even better!

I headed over after work and met up with several folks who were running the course. We would start at the south side of the forest (around the 4.5 mile mark). There were seven of us total, and I think 4 were G.A.C. members. Marty Sullivan (RD) was our guide and led us around the course, providing tons of detail about the course (aids stations, hills, wet sections, etc). The G.A.C. members were full of stories and kept us entertained for the 2 hr run.
We were joined by Chris, Al, Jim, Mae and Peter.

The crew heading down one of the carriage roads

As trail races go, this course is pretty tame. It's a nice mix of single track and carriage roads, but I'd say a bit more single track. The trails weren't overly rocky or rooty (except a couple of short sections), and only 1-2 spots that were even remotely wet. One section you could run around the water/mud, the other section was a little tougher (about 3 miles in). Other than that, the trails were dry. This course is 100% runnable.

Typical single track

There were a couple of short climbs up small hills, but most of the course was relatively flat. There were plenty of turns though. I am told the course is extremely well marked on race day (even though we got off course 2-3 times during the run).

Afterwards Marty handed out a new course map along with wheel-measured turn by turn directions. I think he plans to post these on the G.A.C. website but I've included them below just in case. He also is planning a couple more training runs on the course over the next few weeks so if you're interested keep an eye on their website.

Stone Cat Course Map


Stone Cat Course Directions

3 comments:

kltilton said...

Stone Cat is a great race. You'll find it a little easier than the Pemi Loop. Good luck and have fun.

Steve Wolfe said...

Thanks Kevin, I've heard nothing but good things about this race.
And um, I think most loops are easier than the Pemi :-)
I can't believe you guys nearly did it in 7hrs!! That's just nuts.

spyder said...

wow! that is great! Perfect for racing. I'm really amazed with the place! Awesome!