Report from Strava:
Completed my Hike100 challenge on the NET this morning along with a possible FKT and my longest run yet. I’ve been dreaming of an FKT ever since I learned about the acronym and English gentleman who holds the current record on this trail earlier this week.
While his record was set during the final leg of a far more impressive 220+ mile FKT, the one for this particular trail, named after the people we stole it from, now belongs to the Yankees again. ?? (in jest if not obvious!)
While I prefer to run while Minetta and the kids are sleeping, I also prefer to run in the daylight. Until recently, I avoided early morning running convinced I couldn’t leave the house without waking everyone up. It turns out with some preparation the night before I can sneak out quietly and get in two hours of light before the day really begins. Last night, I had to laugh at myself after realizing I was annoyed when I learned the sun wouldn’t rise until after 6:00AM. As I was driving to the Bluff Head lot at 5:30AM, still dark out, I found myself looking forward to Daylight Savings for the first time in my life… is this growing up?
A short climb through the Broomstick Ledges to the beginning of the Menunkatuck Trail had me arriving at 6:17AM. The Menunkatuck Trail begins at the Southern edge of the protected Guilford Land Conversation Trust’s Northwoods property before running through the Guilford portion of Genesee, the site of an abandoned Colonial-era settlement of the neighboring town where remnants of foundations and stone walls can still be found. This section also includes my least favorite portion of the NET which I’ve deemed the “tick jungle gauntlet”. Consisting of a variety of overgrowth and no shortage of thorny raspberry bushes it’s probably less than an 1/8 of a mile in distance but feels like it goes on forever when passing through. To my surprise a path had been cleared almost all the way through since my last visit, many thanks to the trail angel(s) responsible!
Side note: mid-60's bittersweet “end of summer” type morning where the air feels noticeably cooler and crisper than the days prior, a welcome contrast from the recent heat and humidity we’ve had. I deemed it a “Top 10” in terms of perfect weather this year after seeing 4 other people running on the trail during the first hour. At one point I was questioning if there was a race that I wasn’t aware of. For context, I think I’ve seen a total of 4 people running on the trails over the entire summer.
After 3 miles the trail connects to the dirt portion of Race Hill Road before cutting through a small portion of Cockaponset State Forest for about 2 miles before reaching Rt. 80. I crossed over Rt. 80 and entered the Timberland Preserve at 7:12AM. I haven’t spent nearly as much time exploring the Timberland or East River Preserve just below it, they both get far more foot traffic than the trails north of Rt. 80 and have more established trail networks. I just tried to stay focused on the blue trail markers while stopping to greet all the motivated dogs out walking their owners.
I existed the East River Preserve onto Clapboard Hill Road for the final stretch of 3.5 miles just after 8:30AM. At 14 miles into the run, this was the section that I had most concerns around prior to attempting. I wasn’t sure how my feet would hold up on the pavement knowing I would have exceeded my longest run to date at this point. Any lingering concerns in my ability to finish the route had vanished after running the first 1/2 mile at my fastest pace of the morning. I sent Minetta a text to let her know I was about 30-40 minutes from Jacob’s Beach and arrived at 9:08AM.
Total time: 2 hours, 51 minutes.
A few minutes later Minetta and kids picked me up at the beach and took me out for breakfast at the diner followed by a stop at the farm and a short hike, all without ever leaving town. Off to a good start.