I found out in May of 2019 that the Massachusetts part of The New England National Scenic trail was fun and exciting to run, with all types of terrain. I ended the first part of my run on May 31st at the CT/MA State Line, and that is where I started on August 16th at 7:20am for my next 112 mile trail run adventure.
I actually prepared a little more for this 112 mile trail run verses the Massachusetts run by reviewing all the road intersections and giving my crew notes and myself how the trail intersects the roads. I also created the rolling aid station stops that had safe parking so my wife would be comfortable crewing me.
I started by jogging from Rising Corner to the MA/CT state line and started my spot tracker to log my start point at the state line. At the end of May this section was very muddy, but it was fairly dry now. I completed the first 12 miles to Hartford Ave in 2 hours and 20 minutes. The terrain was not super steep but rolled up and down. I saw a women trail runner heading towards me at Hatchell Hill Road. She waited at the gate so I could run down the hill which was a powerline section with high weeds. Once I passed, she started up the hill in the opposite direction. Once I crossed the road and was near the end of the ridge, I missed a switch back turn and I was on a mountain bike trail when I realized I lost the markers. I found the markers and got back on course with a ¼ mile detour. I finally got to the where my crew was supposed to be, but no one was there. I called my wife’s phone and asked where she was and she was a mile down the road. I thought maybe she got lost. I refueled my water and supplies, and off I went.
I started running up the road and missed the trail head turn and came to a dead end. I started up the trail off of the dead end realized there was no markers. I back tracked to the trail head which was right before a driveway. It was my mistake because my notes said turn right before the driveway on the left. Another 1/2 mile added, no big deal. I got to top of the ridge and passed an old cemetery. I went down off of the ridge to meet my great support crew my wife. I said It’s going to be a very hot day for running, I started to overheat a little in this section. This was Harford Road 18.3 miles completed.
I crossed the road and went back up to the ridge. I started to see a few hikers on this section. I did not realize why there were so many hikers until I reach the Heublein Tower. People were hiking to see the tower and the view of the valley. I descended down to the Metropolitan District Reservoir and ran along one side of the reservoir. I ran right beside a black snake that I thought was a stick and his tongue almost touched my calf. Thank goodness it was not poisonous. I found my crew waiting along route 44. I refueled and tried to cool my core with an ice rag on the backside of my neck.
This section started in an open field on the reservoir dike. After overheating in the last section I decided to start off slow trying to keep my core temperature down. I was glad when the trail went back into the woods, but had to climb up to the ridge again. There was another good view in this section. I got to my crew car, but no crew and the car was locked. I stood in the shade of the car and suddenly I heard my name. My wife went the wrong way to meet me on the trail, but stopped at the road section and turn around went back to the car. This was mile 30.7. My wife said that next road section is going to be fun to cross, and I said, I know it’s going to be like the Frogger video game crossing 504 & 4 Junction.
I lost about 5 minutes trying to cross 504, but made it with all my Frogger lives intact. Then I went up a gas line clearing and started running between houses. I crossed Mountain road and had to do some climbing at Rattle Snake Mountain and Pinnacle Rock. The view at Pinnacle Rock had a great over looked the valley. Finally I started to descend down to New Britain Ave when a trail runner was coming up the hill towards me. We said hello in the moment as we passed. I got to my wife at the road and took some time to refuel and cool off my core.
I started the road section and it was very busy as I went under route 84 and route 72. Got into the woods and started to climb to the ridge. I traveled back down to the road where my wife was supposed to be. She was not there, so I called her. She said, she was at the Orchard parking lot as what the directions said. I did not know there were 2 orchard large parking lots on this road when I made the direction. She was at the one 100 yards off of Andrew St. This was approx. mile 42.7 at 6:12pm. I told her I was going to slow down this next section to try to prevent overheating. I told her I needed to see her at Corey St. which was 4.8 miles away.
I started to climb up to the ridge from Andrew St. This was the first section that had a rock crease climb up to the rock ledge top. I realized I was on a plateau and the climbs were only 1-2% for the next 3 miles. I ran in to couple of trail runners and we talked about the trail and they gave me some tips for the next 20 miles. I descended to Corey St. and met my crew and asked me what I wanted to eat next time. Maybe a grill cheese? I only took my little head light because I would see my crew in less than an hour with only 4 miles to the next stop.
I ran down Millbrook Lane into the trail head between two large homes. Then, it got dark from the heavy tree canopy so I needed to turn my light on. Here was the next rock crease that I had to navigate with my small light. After the thick tree canopy disappeared my light was ok. I did get to route 264 in an hour. No crew, I started to walk on the road while calling her. Turns out she was stilling waiting on my food. I told her I would see her at the next major road, route 71. She said she had a food surprise for me, and I would like it.
I started into the Hanging Hills and castle Craig section. Well, this section was not flat or my leg were just getting tired. I was climbing a large hill when I saw two large set of eyes staring at me. First thing I thought of is a Momma bear and her cub, so I stopped and stared to walk. Whatever type of wildlife it was, it was not moving. When I got around the wildlife and looked back and seen it was to large racked buck deer sitting down. They probably did not move because I did not smell human anymore. There were awesome views of the night lights off of the ridge. I was running the ridge and thought I saw a large American Flag flying, I said to myself I am hallucinating, why would I see a large flag on this ridge. After running about a ¼ mile I came out to the Castle, mentally it made sense. This was neat view of with castle illuminated by lights with a large American fly flying beside it. Then I ran downhill and finally got the reservoir dam. I turned left at the road intersection and could not find any markers. Walking in a circle checking all the intersections and finally figured out the trail turns to the right at an access gate. At this time I was running with no supplies, but only had a mile or so go to see my wife. I had to go up and down a hill again and I finally got to my wife at route 71. I had to wake her up, I took about 15 min break to re-fuel and sit down to give my legs a 5 min break. Finally got my 400 lumen head lamp, night running was not going to be a problem anymore. The food surprise was called Stuffed bread, it look and tasted like a calzone to me, it hit the spot.
I left the mobile aid station at 11:55pm and started the next section which trail runners warned me to be very careful of the marking on this section. After getting about half way up to the ridge cross this dirt road and the markers disappeared. I could not find the blazes until I push into weeds above my shoulders, and there was the trail. I lost 10-15 mins looking for the trail intersection but this was good compared to all the time I spent in Massachusetts looking for markings. The trail got technical but it was fun just like some PA trail sections. I got to Orchard Road a little tired and a little confused about which way to turn. My notes said turn right, but my internal compass was telling me to turn left. I followed my notes and got to the gas station on route 5 where my wife was. She asked me how it was going, I said that section was tough for navigation, but that I was good.
I started off on a nice road section by turning right at the next intersection and about 1/2 mile later down the road I turned right onto the trail at someone’s driveway. After entering the woods my legs started feeling tired. This 7.9 mile section was going well until I climbed out of Doctor Francis Giuffrida Park. I finally had to give my legs a break from climbing so I hiked to top off the ridge. After that I was back moving pretty good. My wife was at Alkins St. and took a 5 minute break. I would see her approximately in 2 miles at the park–n-ride. I took another 10 minute break at the park-in-ride and sat down for 3-4 mins again to get refreshed.
I got going again on a little road climb which crossed route 91 and my wife followed me until I ducked back into the woods. This section was harder than the last few sections, but it could have been from my legs fatiguing to no recovery point. I thought I hit the 24 hour point when I started, but forgot to subtract the elapsed time it took to get to the Connecticut state line and making sure my tracker was working properly at 7:20 am vs 7:10 am. I thought it was 71 miles at this point and only 41 miles to go. I was excited, because the trail sections should be getting easier. I made a wrong turn and ended up at the trail head parking lot. I retraced my steps back up the hill, but luckily it was only a little distance to get back on the proper trail. Finally I got to my wife at Guida’s Dairy. This would have been the actual 24 hour point, but did not realized it until I completed the run and reviewed the data. At this aid I probably took too much time in the chair trying to gives my legs some recover time. After 15 minutes (7:20am), I was ready to do the next 6.2 miles.
This section was no relief for tired legs. I managed to maintain about an approximately 3 ¾ miles per hour pace. The weather was cooler than the day before, which helped. In this section I realized the 31 hours and 30 minute goal would not happen. This hit me pretty hard, but was determined to finish. I got to my wife at 8:58 am mile 83.8 at route 68.
I finally got going at 9:15 am and only 6 miles to go before seeing my wife again. In this section the climbs were long, but I managed. I hit a section with nettles, and there was no way to avoid them for the next ¼ mile. My legs were stinging for next 30 minutes. I was running down a hill and saw my wife parked along the road. I was thinking that it was too soon to see my wife. We got the next stop confused with route 17. Here is some advice for your crew: never listen to a runner with over eighty miles and been awake over 24 hours of running. I made a quick stop, and off to a long climb. I actually ran the ridge and started to head downhill to my wife on route 17. I started to overheat again due the terrain in this section and had to cool off my core.
I was ready to start the nice easy road section again, but I was anticipating major climbing. I was right, after the road the trail started to climb, but it was not too bad. This section was a lot easier than I expected with a name of Buff Head. Before I knew it I was running downhill to the Bluff Head parking lot. My wife was there ready to get me going again. Mile 94 is normally where I reel in the finish line on a 100 miler, but with 18 to go I stayed conservative.
I left my wife in a motivated spirit to get this done. After the first mile of this section I realized I pushed too hard in the first 50 miles of this run. My legs were done pushing short steep hills, but the scenery was gorgeous, and going slow I could see more than usual. I hit the big split where the trail went north or south. I went south with no question due to the markings and signs. The trail got really easy compared to the 1st mile, but I was reserving energy because the trail always gets harder. This time I was wrong. I saw 4 snakes within the next 2 miles, they looked like copper heads but I did not known if Connecticut had that type of snakes. During the short road section saw a married couple taking a hike with their baby, and cheered me on. I processed what they were saying to me and I knew my wife must have been talking to them for some time. I came out to route 80, the Timberland Preserve. I refueled quickly and sat for a couple minutes and off I went.
This section was a short 3.6 miles in which I finished in an hour. It was a very easy trail section with no major climbs. I saw my wife at Willow St. with less than 8 miles to go. This was 104.7 miles.
The next section was 7.7 miles to the finish. My wife was going meet me at Clapboard road by running from the finish. It was about mile 106 the faster I ran the faster I had to go sit down in the woods. This GI issue passed. I started to run faster again and same thing happen again in a mile. Having these GI issues I started not feeling great. I started to run faster again and felt the GI issue come on again. I slowed down and never had to sit in the woods again. I came to the first road and made a right. I thought to myself that this does not look like the google maps that I had remembered. I realized I made wrong turn when I ended up in someone’s driveway. Then back track and started running towards Clapboard road again.
I met my wife while running towards me before Clapboard road. I got on the road and turned right, heading towards Gilford following the direction I printed out. Everything was going as good as it could be, until I reached Henry Whitfield State Museum. I turned right on the trail and the weeds were so tall they were over my head. My wife said she would not go in there and she would meet me at Old Whitefield road. I said OK. I bushwhack my way through the weeds for 150 yards and found all the trail marking posts. I got to the road where my wife was waiting.
I continued following the trail markers along the road to the train station and used both elevators to go over the train tracks. After that, my wife said wait until you feel this cool breeze coming off the sound on the last mile. There was no a breeze. Once I got to the Chittenden Park I headed towards the NET bulletin board and went around the soccer field to the board walk. When I hit the 20 foot beach and kept on going into the marsh mud and I realized I could not stop when I would hit the water. I tried to stop slowly but both feet went up in the air. My arm caught all my weight to avoid doing a back flop into the mud. I was inches away from being completely covered with marsh mud. I stood up and walked into the long island sound with the water above my sneakers. I hit my check-in button on my tracker. I was done, 35:29:44 for 112.4 miles.