100MW Trip Report
First, a huge thank you to my pacing team (Liam Piper, Zach McCarthy, Will Peterson, Luke Spooner, and Veronica Leeds), my crew (Chris and Betsy Keiter), and my partner Ella Piper. This run would not have been possible without them. I’ve thought about this route and record every day for nearly the past 3 years, and that group helped bring all of those thoughts and hopes into reality. I also want to thank Barry Howe and Finn Melanson, who both advised me on strategy and gave me nothing but support this spring while I was preparing for the run.
I put together a strong pacing team together that was ready to go over the long weekend (6/17-19). Then it rained 3 inches in the Monson/Greenville area between 6/16-17. The big team I assembled dwindled with the weather and time constraints imposed by it. Zach recruited Veronica in the last 24 hours before the run and she ended up being pivotal during the night sections. The high water level posed serious concerns about the water crossings, primarily at the Long Pond Stream, West Branch Pleasant River, and East Branch Pleasant River crossings. My dad and I went out on 6/18 to check the East and West Branches. No hikers had been able to cross the East Branch on 6/18 (myself included). The West Branch was potentially passable, but the water was chest high and moving incredibly fast. I talked with the AT Center in Monson who advised that at least one other trail runner had been swept away at Long Pond on 6/18 (she was unhurt, just fairly far downstream). My original plan had been to start my run at 2pm, thinking that the night time would not slow me down much on the descent on the Chairbacks and the Whitecap range, and I would be able to go through a lot of the cleaner running during the daylight. That plan would have had me crossing the West and East Branches during the nighttime which seemed highly dangerous, which motivated the 7am start. Needless to say, I was nervous the night before about how the water crossings (and on the trail) would effect the run. I decided to take the gamble, knowing I had the pace team, good temperatures (mid 60s), and a new storm would whip through New England the following weekend as well.
Start – Otter Creek Stream crossing (with Liam P.): Roughly 3:30 split, + 4 min resupply
A deliberately conservative start. The trail through this section is the least interesting of the whole route because it is so monotonous and it 99% just running through the woods under tree cover. No huge climbs, but there’s a sneaky 3k vertical gain, and it’s hard to tell that you’re making progress. We got our feet wet immediately. However, we had to deal with 3 somewhat significant water crossings that we had been warned about over the weekend. The water level was high, but certainly passable, and did not slow us down much other than the deteriorating effect of constantly wet feet. Crossing these was a big confidence booster, indicating that the later ones would also be non-issues.
Otter Creek – West Branch Pleasant River (with Zach M.): Roughly 4:00 split + 6 min resupply/river crossing
Zach and I motored on the Chairback Range. Many people I think fear this section because it just keeps throwing punchy climbs and you the whole way, but if you can maintain a running gait outside the true summit approaches, you can take advantage of some smooth pine bed running. Being at higher elevation, our feet were significantly drier than the previous section. We had two slight navigational issues (one accidental herd path, and one section where the AT is literally blazed in a short loop, I think to give hikers the option of going around a major bog). I also scraped my left arm in this section which dislodged the pin in my watch band, and my watch fell off my wrist, a complication that has never happened to me before. These three issues probably ate up 7-8 minutes. Outside of these we moved extremely well and the West Branch was easily passable, with water up to my waist.
Pleasant River – Logan Brook Rd (with Will P.): Roughly 3:40 split, + 5 min resupply
I had been nervous that I would hit a mental low point here, as it’s where the body truly realizes how far it has come but how far it has to go. Will and I ran the first few miles very well and got the steep climb up to Gulf Hagas out of the way easily. Once on the ridge, I started feeling a little bit of pressure in my stomach and lost a bit of focus. Many of the miles on the ridge are runnable, and we did a good, not great job going fast through them. I took a Pepto which seemed to resolve the stomach pressure issue within about 30 minutes. I summited Whitecap at 10:36:00 elapsed time, which was essentially right on my plan to hit 24 hours.
Logan Brook Rd – Johnston Rd (with Luke S.): Roughly 1:37 split, + 3 min resupply
This section had the dreaded East Branch crossing, likely the hairiest of the whole route. The water level had dropped significantly in the 24 hours since I scouted it and Luke and I got across with no hardship. Otherwise, the section was a return to sopping feet, but we moved really really well. Luke had a great sense of where to run/hike depending on the terrain and we fell into a really solid rhythm as the day wound to a close. I’ve never loved this section of trail too much, and I had worried that I would give away some time, but the legs really held it together.
Johnston Rd – Jo Mary Rd (with Veronica L.): Roughly 1:28 split, + 6 min resupply
I was really looking forward to this leg. In good conditions, this is a highway as the trail follows an old logging road. But, as darkness fell, Veronica had to deal with the first of many water crossings together. They may not have been terribly sketchy during the daylight, but going through at night required a lot of focus and energy that I hadn’t been planning on spending. The trail was mostly runnable but very boggy. But these were critical miles, so we ended up working pretty hard on the drier parts to keep up with my goal of 12-13 min pace. My overall impression of the trail here was indicative of what the rest of the run would be: dark, winding, with extended stretches of stomping through ankle deep water.
Jo Mary Rd – Nahmakanta Stream Rd (with Veronica L.): Roughly 3:34 split, + 5 min resupply
This is normally my favorite section of the 100MW because it follows so many bodies of water, and is almost exclusively runnable. In my original plan, I would run this as the sun came up over Pemadumcook Lake, normally a gorgeous sight. Instead, the section was brutal. The trail alternated between bone dry (where Veronica and I hammered) and ponds with waist to chest deep water (seemingly run-off from the many rivers and streams nearby). It was really hard to find rhythm going between those extremes. I also started to feel instability in my right knee. Once I got into a running stride it felt fine, but it was difficult to transition between running and hiking. I couldn’t trust it to handle any technicality on the trail at all. The water really rattled me and I gave a fair bit of time back here. Nonetheless, we came into the next resupply with 24 hours still on the table.
Nahmakanta Stream Rd – Pollywog Bridge (with Luke S.): Roughly 2:20 split, + 7 min resupply
This section contains Nesuntabunt Mtn, which is always a punch to the throat, particularly during the night. I knew my 2 hour goal here was aggressive, but this was physically my lowest point. There are some easy approach miles (though more technical than the prior sections) but I couldn’t take advantage of them because of the knee instability. It didn’t effect my hiking too much, and I was mentally in the game, but my stride just wasn’t right. I came into the next resupply knowing I could finish, but knowing that getting under 24 hours was no longer really possible.
Pollywog Bridge – Abol Bridge (with Will P.): 3:57 split
I left the final resupply feeling bad but hopeful. We had brought along two knee braces, which ended up making an enormous difference. The section on the whole is a lot of clean running, but I was much less able to handle the high water level than I had earlier. No longer was I crashing through the inch deep puddles. There was a lot of slipping and sliding. Shockingly, this last part was my lowest mental point. I wanted nothing more than to jog it in at 15 minute pace to just finish. I started feeling super sleepy, my peripheral vision was starting to blur, and I was peeing close to every 30 minutes (potentially some sort of salt imbalance). Will would not let me off the hook. He pushed me to run a couple of 13 minute miles, which felt like they took everything out of me. About 7 miles into the leg, I finally told him how sleepy I was, and we took out the ammonia salts I carry, looking for a jump start. It worked. After taking a deep whiff of the salts, a lot of my focus came back. It also helped that the sun really started to shine through, and we started to hit more landmarks, like the final climb up to Rainbow Ledges. Once there, we set a goal to get me in under 24:40, giving us about 1:20 to get down to Abol Bridge (5.7 miles). We started cruising. I did not feel “good” by any stretch but it was truly gut-check time. The rest of the pace team met up with us about 2.5 miles from the finish. It was a huge boost to have that energy and tangible support. My eyes were teary seeing them and for the rest of the run. The sprint finish down the Golden Road to Abol Bridge is something I’ll remember forever. It was a beautiful sunny morning with the remnants of fog hanging around Katahdin, I got to run with my friends, and hug my dad at the end. What could be better.
I’m so proud of this run, and grateful to the many people who played a role in getting me to that finish line. The support I’ve received since finishing has been remarkable, cementing my feeling that the 100 Mile Wilderness is a route that Mainers take immense pride in. I’m so happy to carry on its tradition.
1: The start with Liam
2: Abol Bridge with my dad
3: The pace team
4: Me and my parents
This is so awesome, dude!! You worked so hard to achieve this. Very proud of you!! And so glad to be part of the support crew!!
Xander and I did a thorough recap of his preparation and run on my podcast. If you're looking for beta, this is a solid place to start: