FKT: Justin Kousky - New England Trail (CT, MA) - 2020-09-12

Route variation
Connecticut Only
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1d 1h 52m 55s

overall - a beautiful, unique, classic east coast course - highly recommended.  many thanks to art byram for championing the course, and for recent runners like debbie and scott livingston, andrew orefice, and sean meehan for sharing their experiences and making it that much easier for the rest of us to enjoy it.

ran north to south - started midday since it had rained the prior day and the humidity was still wearing off in the morning.  weather was decent - daytime highs in the mid 70s, got down to low 50s at night, and low humidity after the first few hours.

the first 10 miles of the metacomet were pleasant and easy - rolling hills, not very technical - i tried to maintain discipline and not run too fast in that section.  it gradually gets more challenging, with some nice views at the tops of a few climbs.  somewhere in here i lost my phone charger cable - which really sucked.  i try to keep my phone on for navigation (turn by turn) and for music or podcasts.  my watch is sometimes unreliable and it's harder to do turn by turn navigation on such a small screen - so when this happened i realized i was going to have to turn off the phone for a while to save batteries, and likely get lost a bit more than normal.

the second half of the metacomet is probably the most challenging section of the entire course - it's about 30 miles of up and down, steep, technical, and scrambly in spots - and i hit it mostly at night.  several of the climbs and descents had traprock talus - i haven't done much running on that stuff.  i made a few rookie mistakes on those sections, falling flat on my face a couple times and also kicking up rocks which banged into my ankles - they were bleeding and swollen after this which caused them to tighten up.  also i managed to bang both my knees when falling so they were also swollen and tightening.  a bit after midnight i stumbled out of the woods towards the end of the metacomet - those last few miles of trails don't look hard on paper but aren't well-maintained, and were pretty slow going.

once i got to the mattabesset i was more comfortable since i've run on that trail before.  didn't get lost in the same spots as last time - but also felt like i was going way too slow.  gradually the sky began to brighten as i slowly ticked off the miles.  as soon as it was light i ditched the headlamp and sped up (a bit).  in hindsight i think i need a more powerful headlamp - it wasn't giving me enough visibility in the technical sections to be comfortable moving faster.  started enjoying myself a bit more as i came into the bluff head / broomstick area.

the final section is the menunkatuck trail - on paper this looks like a cakewalk compared to the rest.  but after 90 miles my legs were shot and even the smallest incline or technical footing made me slow to a crawl.  i stumbled and fell a few times on pretty easy terrain - mind and body were just not working as well - so i ended up walking a lot of this section despite having the motivation to run.  there were some road, flat trail, and farmland areas that were easy to run without worrying about falling so i took advantage of those.  the last few miles on the road were a nice way to end it - i had plenty of energy left for that type of running.  also going through the train station at the end was fun - but i took the stairs, not the elevators (what can i say i'm a glutton for punishment).

notes on format/gear: ran unsupported, which was a bit more of a burden than normal given the time/distance.  used an ultimate direction ultra hydration vest, started with 2L of tailwind and refilled with a katadyn filter along the way.  packed a ziploc with 3-4lbs of tailwind and no other calories to keep things simple - only ended up consuming about half of that.  so i didn't take in enough calories in the latter half of the run, and also it was pretty sad to carry that dead weight the whole way.  water was also a bit hard to find - despite raining the prior day.  on the metacomet stream beds were dry and so i had to wait for larger bodies of water (a few lakes and a river) - luckily things worked out and i didn't run dry for very long.  the water situation improved on the latter half of the mattabesset section and into the menunkatuck.  packed a few extras like sunscreen, squirrel nut butter, a mask - but didn't end up using those.  had a charger pack which i used to keep the watching going.  tried to travel as light as possible but the total weight was 10 pounds when you factor in everything. pack was down to about 5 pounds by the end (less tailwind, no water).

notes on gpx: started watch at the parking lot north of the MA/CT border (that only adds a minute or so).  gps only flaked out a few times for me which is better than normal/expected.  also note i was using a circa 2016 gpx to track the 2nd half of the course which was a mistake - seems like a lot of the trails have moved since then - so future runners should make sure to find a more recent track.  for the metacomet i recommend using tom starodaj's unsupported FKT gpx - that was pretty recent, looks like he stayed on course the whole time and trails haven't evolved since then (thanks tom!).