DESCRIPTION OF THE 10.5 MILE LOOP FOR THE FAT ASS 50K
I was surprised on Friday when I looked out the window and saw snow coming down, I'm usually pretty good about keeping up with the weather forecast before a long run but I guess I missed this one coming. My first thought was: "I hope this stops before dark so the snowmobiles have a chance to get out and groom the trails for us." They didn't. But Pownal only received about 3 inches of light fluffy snow so it turned out to be fine for running in with screw shoes, and not too bad without them either.
My plan for the day was to attempt a 10 mile loop that I worked out this week during my "lunch break" at work. Pretty much all of our runs at Bradbury have been out-and-backs with only a few very short loops thrown in, unfortunately we're restricted to where the snowmobiles go and we haven't found any nice big loops. A handful of us are planning to do a 50k run from the park on Sunday, March 2nd so I wanted to see if it would be possible to do a multi-loop course that would allow us to return to our cars a few times during the run to refill water bottles and take in food that we don't want to carry with us. The loop I came up with worked on Google Maps but there were 3 miles of it that I had never run before and didn't know what to expect.
At about 8:15 Emma, Chuck and I set off from the park heading north on Route 9. A passing truck covered us all in a spray of slush that reminded us why we like to run trails and not roads. Thankfully we were only on Rt 9 for 1/2 mile before turning left onto Minot Road which is unpaved, barely plowed and runs like a trail. Another 1/2 mile uphill and the road ended at a massive snow bank, just like Google said it would. On the other side of the snow bank there was evidence of where the road used to go but it was clear, even with a foot of snow on the ground, that the road that used to be there was severely eroded. I had hoped to find snowmobile tracks along this section but no such luck, we pushed on through the rugged terrain post-holing most of the way for the next half mile down a severe slope (see elevation profile below). At times the snow was up to my knees, occasionally deeper, and a few times Emma had to pull herself out of snowy pits that were waist deep.
At the bottom of the hill we came out on Upper Minot Road, also unpaved, which at one time was connected to Minot Road. There was a noticeable degradation in the standard of living on this part of the road that made me wonder if the discontinuity in Minot Road was a deliberate attempt at keeping a certain type of person out. I hope it wasn't us.
Upper Minot brought us to Lawrence Road at 2.25 miles into the run and it was another 1/2 mile before we reached the familiar power line trail that we have spent so much time running on in previous weeks. We soon came along Chandler Brook, the last time I was here (December 15th) water was flowing freely and I had to find a detour through someone's back yard. The brook was holding snow so I assumed it was frozen but proceeded with extreme caution to test the surface. This is when Chuck came flying past and crossed the ice fearlessly and flawlessly, then Emma and I decided it was safe to cross ourselves.
The next 2.5 miles were fairly flat and very runnable and we followed what looked like coyote tracks on the trail for quite a while. At 5.7 miles we turned off of the power line trail onto the 5 mile stretch of trail that leads back into the park and forms the beginning and end of most of our runs. Not much to say about the next four miles apart from UGH! Four miles uphill in 3 inches of powdery snow starts to wear you down. By the time we run this next week I'm sure the snow will be well packed and the hills will be easier to take, at least on the first two times around. Once we were back in the park there was one last climb and then the last mile of the run was a gradual downhill.
All said and done the loop worked out to be just a bit over 10.5 miles, not too far off 1/3 of a 50k!
distance: 10.58 miles
heart rate: 157/181
Next weekend I plan to go out on Saturday with my snowshoes and work on blazing a trail through the Minot Road "connector" to make the trail more runnable on Sunday for the 50k.
So if anyone wants to come along for 10.5, 21, or 31.5 miles join us at 7:00 am at Bradbury Mountain State Park on Sunday, March 2nd.