Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bear Brook Marathon Race Report

My first Marathon... The plan was to take it out conservative at first and just try to relax and run consistent throughout the course. With the race billed as 26.7 miles and 2,300'+ vertical it was a little longer than a true marathon, but what is a little bit of extra mileage in the grand scheme of things. The Bear Brook Marathon page can be found here. Not an enormous amount of climbing, but enough to keep it honest. I have run the marathon distance many times in training runs and longer races, but this was going to be the first time I would have a shot at running a race at the classic distance.

The photo below shows me running up the last small uphill to finish the race, it was taken by SNAPacidotic, a great photographer that was offering up the race photos of the runners for free on their facebook page.
Finishing photograph courtesy of SNAPacidotic
It was a cool morning when Justin and I arrived at the race from our drive up from Massachusetts that morning. We registered and were ready to run the race at around 6:30. There was a slightly delayed start while we waited for everyone to gather around the starting line. Ryan Welts, the co-race director (along with Kristina Folcik), had a few words about the course markings and sounded the siren to signal the start. All 172 starters took off at a trail marathon pace into the woods. The course was described as 95% singletrack and doubletrack with 1/3 mile of pavement, which is entirely appealing to me. It was a course that would take us 27 plus miles (because of a bonus half mile or so) around the perimeter of Bear Brook State Park without any repeating of trails. It was a great way to spend a morning in south-central New Hampshire.

GPS Track of the course, I had 27.4 miles and 2,537' climb but it is not always accurate.
The run took us up some climbs in the first few miles up to a summit of Catamount Hill to begin with and after descending and coming into our first aid station at 3.5 miles, I estimated that I was in about 15th place judging by the amount of people I saw going in the opposite direction on the short out-&-back trail. I linked up with Jodi Isenor and Matt Smith around here and we would spend the next ten or so miles together. It was great to spend some miles out on the trails with these two runners and we had good conversations about trail running in central Mass. and the White Mountains. Running with these two kept my pace honest and let the early miles fly by while we all shared hopes to be finished under 4 hours. Jodi is a race director up in Nova Scotia and puts on trail races that he described during the run and has done numerous ultra races including the Vermont 100 and Stone Cat 50 miler. Matt Smith is somewhat new to running on trails and has done road marathons in the past, but is a strong runner.

Elevation of course with blue "Pace" line
Somewhere around mile 13 or so, I hit a little bit of a low patch and slowed down to regroup and try to drink a little more. I was feeling the miles in my legs a little and felt like I needed a little more calories to refuel. The rest of the race I tried to keep a consistent pace and ran by myself. At the mile 20 aid station I knew I had about 7 miles left, which was a confidence booster and I tried to just run it all the way out at a decent pace to get the race finished as quickly as possible. I passed Jodi with a few miles to go as he was cramping up and gave him an S-Cap. He said he was out of electrolytes, and I was hoping it would alleviate some of the cramping to enable him to run to the finish.

There were a few volunteers at different spots on the remainder of the course letting us know we had 2 miles, then 1 mile, then 150 yards. I was looking forward to getting the race over with and finding out what place I was in. Since my sub-4 hour goal had already came and went, my underlying goal was to break the top 10 overall. As I was coming up the rise to the finish line, I looked a the clock and it said 4:16:06.  I found out later that I was in 9th place overall, which felt great. My recent training has included longer tempo runs at a faster pace and track intervals trying to get some of my times down and it seems to be working. I was able to get closer to Justin's placement in this race, where I am usually pretty far behind his race times. He ended up finishing in 4:10:48 and 6th place. Full results can be found here.

After finishing, I made my way over to my wife and kids who were there supporting me and greeted me at the finish. I hung out in a chair, drank a beer to rehydrate and had some burgers and hot dogs at the post-race BBQ cheering the remaining runners on as they came in. Having my wife come up with the kids was great, and ever since mile 15 I was looking forward to coming into the finish line and seeing them. She is a huge supporter of mine and is tolerant of me taking off for many hours to run into the woods by myself. I try to schedule most runs around her and my children's wake-up times, but some of the races that I run take up good portions of the day if not more.

I had a great time riding up with Justin and talking with him after the race before he makes his way down south to Virginia in the next few weeks. I owe a lot to him for motivation on the long runs we have done together as well as some of the weekday training runs. These would have the tendency to be less interesting if he hadn't been out there to enjoy the trails with.

The volunteers and race directors were all great at this race and helped me to get in and out of the aid stations in record time. Very well marked course and the trails were beautifully laid out, and maintained by the mountain biking community in the area. I wanted to extend a thank you to the organizers and volunteers for the race, hopefully I will be back next year to try for the top 5.

The next plans I have are to join Eric Ahern and maybe Ryan Davenport on a Semi-Double Presidential Traverse on August 23rd, going from N-S and hitting Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Clay, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower, and Pierce then turning around to climb them again before returning to our car in Appalachia or Dolly Copp. It is a semi-double because I don't plan to go to the base of Pierce or Jackson. If the weather does not cooperate, I have a Plan B of doing a Wildcats-Moriah Traverse out & back run. After the long run, I don't have anything on the docket until the TARC Fall Classic 50k in October.


  1. Fun trip all around man. Thanks for sharing so many miles with me. Let's do it again soon.

    1. Thanks, great times. You know where I'm at.

  2. Hey Jesse!

    It was great to meet you and to run with you (and Matt) for as long as we did! Thanks again for the S-Cap too :)

    If you're ever in Nova Scotia, please get in touch with me and I'll give you some trail tours! You can also watch my blog for race info, etc.

    Take care and all the best with your adventures (running and family)!


    1. Hi Jodi,
      Great meeting you as well, nice run. Sounds like fun, I'll have to discuss with my wife and make the trip up there someday.

      Thanks for the info, website looks great! Maybe I'll see you again on the trails in New England. Have a great time up there and on the trails.

  3. Hey nice job!!!
    I just found your blog and wanted to drop by and say hi I was at Bear Brook too it was a good race.
    Good luck at the Tarc fall classic I will be there volunteering and cheering

    1. Thank you Colleen, I had a great time on those fun trails. Great blog by the way, and congratulations on all your achievements. See you at the TARC race, I'll have to come say hello.