FKT: Josh Sanders - Hart-Montague Trail (MI) - 2018-12-02

Gender category
Route variation
Standard route
Finish date
Total time
2h 45m 55s

I established a new FKT for the Hart-Montague Trail on December 2nd, 2018. It was a cold and rainy morning… and I mean really cold (36 degrees) and really rain (constant drizzle, rain and fog). My goal was to run sub 7:30 miles the whole way at a heart rate of 150 or lower but that immediately went out the window. No clue what’s up with my training but I’m going the wrong way. HR was 10 bpm too high out of the gate so I just switched screens on my Garmin and ran by pace. I figured I’d try and break 2:45 and then just take some time off.
It was a fun morning on the trail. The drizzle and fog made everything a little spooky in a good way. The southern trailhead is a big gravel parking lot next to an RV campground. It’s right next to a gas station and anything you’d need is right by the trailhead. The White Lake pathway becomes the Hart-Montague right at the pavilion where there is a sign indicated it’s 23 miles to Montague. It’s pretty close to exactly 22.75 miles from the beginning to the end.
The trail is wide, well maintained and paved the entire way. In fact, it was the first paved rail trail in all of Michigan (1989) and the whole trail is a state park although you don’t appear to need any type of state park permit or parking that I saw. The trail is a very gentle uphill grade the first 2/3 of the way and then a slight gentle downhill the last 1/3. I would assume it could be slightly faster to run from the north to the south instead as you’d have more downhill and a 100 less feet of gentle grades uphill.
I hadn’t been running well the last two months and 5-6 miles into this run I decided I needed to push and at least break 7:20/mile pace but then take some time off to reset. After a crazy summer of ultra marathon wins and setting the Colorado 14ers record for most summits in one day, it’s been a disappointing fall. I managed to run to 50k’s in the same day, finishing top 5 in both, back in very early October but that was my only good day this fall. I had to really work to keep pace which is crazy considering I’m normally in pure aerobic zones at this pace.
Since this trail is one-way, I was lucky to have Trish attempt the women’s FKT and run the opposite direction. We knew we’d pass each other halfway, so when we ran past each other, we quickly exchanged keys so she could drive my car back to the Hart (north) Trailhead. She crushed her FKT attempt to establish a new women’s record. The second half of the trail is a little more scenic and was nice until I got really wet, cold and the wind picked up. I pushed the last 6 miles and managed a 2:45:55. The trail was .05 miles longer than I anticipated and I just missed my goal of breaking 2:45 but overall considering how terrible I felt, it was an admirable effort. I’m going to skip the Brazos Bend 50 miler next weekend and take a week off and then take an easy week after that to really try and reset my system. Eleven weeks until the US 100 mile championships at the Jackpot 100. I honestly think I’m losing my love of ultra races a little and getting back my love of FKT’s. Michigan and the greater Midwest has some cool, albeit flat, trails to go after and the mountains will always be my first love.