Well that was hard...
I headed over to New Ipswich, NH yesterday with Mike Wade (who made a last minute decision to run, and I'm sure is regretting it now), arriving nearly 1 1/2hrs early and not being the first ones there. There were no plans to do a warm up run or even check out the course so we just chilled for a while. Lots of familiar trail and snowshoe race faces.
The Cliffs Notes version of the course:
The Wapack Trail Race is a 17.5 mile out and back run from the Windblown XC Ski area in New Ipswich,NH to Asburnham,MA, 8.75 miles away. It climbs 4 mountains (each way), Barrett, New Ipswich, Pratt and Watatic and is run entirely on the Wapack Trail.
The trail is a typical New England hiking trail with rocks, roots and more rocks. Did I mention there were lots of rocks?There was indeed lots of climbing (anywhere from 3700ft to 4200ft depending on who you ask), most were relatively short climbs (10-15 minutes of torture). They were steep and you were forced to walk at times. A good portion of the trail was runnable but was brutally hard on my feet ( the only part of me that really hurt). The way back was much harder, not only because you had nearly 9 miles in the bank by the turn around but because you had two pretty serious climbs up Watatic and Pratt to deal with. The Wapack Trail has sections that can be very hard to follow and it helps to be running with someone (especially someone who has run this race before).
Mike and I ran together for most of the way out, reaching the turn in 1hr 27min. The way back would be a different story. We managed to stick together to the Binney Pond water stop (12+ miles in), but Mike was 'in the hurt wagon' by then and we parted company. I wouldn't see Mike again until the finish. The return trip was much slower, taking 1hr 39min, finishing in 3hrs and 6 minutes in 13th place overall. Results can be found here.
This was definitely a love/hate type of race. Weather wise it was perfect! Mid 60's, dry, clear, sunny with views on the summits that went on forever. I felt great for about 10-12 miles and suffered a bit near the end. Plain and simple this course was tough on my feet. As with most trail races the volunteers were great, plenty of them and very supportive. The post race spread was nice as well with pizza, fruit, cookies, sodas and water. A well run race.
Photo Credit - Trail Pixie