FKT: Justin Kousky - Nauset Beach to Chatham Harbor Loop (MA) - 2020-08-23

Route variation
Standard Loop
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1h 40m 39s

ran unsupported - carried just my phone and watch, and wore trail running shoes, not barefoot.  got a late start and the beach was already a bit crowded when i left, and relatively (to covid) full when i returned.  it was near low tide for the trip out, which opened up more of the beach, and led to a few choices on surface - loose sand at the top, steeply sloping semi-firm sand in the middle, or a mix of quicksand, rocks, and some harder packed sand at the bottom.  i chose the bottom - wasn't worried about getting my feet wet on such a short run and it was also really hot and sunny.  every once in a while i regretted that choice and pushed up the slope for a bit, then found myself regretting that and moving back down.

around the turnaround i got mixed up a bit - i had downloaded the initial gpx for the course to navigate with, and it seems like the beach has moved since then (which i was not expecting given the course is only a few months old).  that means i ended up missing out on a bit of the southern section.  i soon realized my mistake when i kept to the tracks and it attempted to go through a bay - gave it a shot for a minute but then realized i had nothing to protect my phone from the water and it was quickly becoming a swim.  so i turned around, kept going around the bay, eventually finding the jeep trails on the way back (which also seem to have migrated a bit from the initial gpx).  after i finished and compared my route with the past 2 guys i think it's clear my course was shorter - they did 12.77 & 12.60 - mine was only 12.29.  and initial course was 12.0. not sure how to account for that, i wasn't trying to short the course - i'll leave that up to the running gods.  but given the natural variation in this course which is likely to occur year over year my recommendation would be to mostly try to establish the best time by pace.  an extra 1/3 of a mile today would have cost me about 3 minutes if that helps.

notes for future runners:

- try to avoid weekend crowds or busy times - the jeep trail in particular was very crowded (with jeeps, not runners) and it's not wide enough for both so i had to dip into the dunes quite a few times.  also the beach at the end was too crowded to run on efficiently and still maintain good social distance.

- don't make the same mistake i did at the end of the loop - just ignore gpx and loop around on the beach, and also don't get too worked up if you are on the jeep trail but your gpx is a bit off there (i only noticed that at the end of the loop, for maybe a mile, after that it tracked perfectly)

- save a bit of energy for the jeep trail - the sand is really tough in spots and there are some small hills (which are tough in the sand)


overall highly recommended course and i'd love to see if it's possible to connect this section with the rest of the cape code national seashore traverse (could end up being 36 miles or so with only a short water traverse at low tide between nauset and the coast guard beach - with some logistical challenges on getting to the southern tip, unless you know someone with a jeep...)