The Pack Monadnock Ten Miler and Two-Person Relay
Sure it’s a challenge—a beautiful thing. Pack is an idyllic course with great post race food. It is a race, an experience, and a view to remember.
Posted Monday, 7 March, 2005
Are you up to the challenge of a great race? Flawlessly planned and well organized, this will be a memorable experience and a unique challenge. The Pack is back! It will run the original country course. Not only that, they have added a two-person relay for those who want to participate in a great event, but are not up to a ten miler.
The Pack Monadnock 10 Miler—and two person relay--will run from Highland Street near Wilton-Lyndeborough High School, Wilton, New Hampshire, to the summit of Pack Monadnock Mountain in Temple. Set for Sunday, June 4, at 9:00 a.m., this is the 13th annual edition of the race, the oldest and longest in the USATF Mountain Racing Circuit. Pack Monadnock is a challenging course—mostly rolling, with some steep inclines, and all beautiful.
The race will be co-hosted by two of New Hampshire’s excellent running clubs, the founding Gate City Striders and the Monadnock Regional Milers. Registration and pre-race activities will be at the high school. As a point-to-point race, gear bags will be transported to from there to the finish.
From the Highland Street start there is an immediate uphill mile before flattening out to run a nice dirt/gravel stretch along an old millpond. The course is on beautifully picturesque country roads along woods and farms, including 1.5 on two stretches of dirt roads.
The handoff point for the new relay will be at five miles (where the traditional 5-mile water stop has been) on a long, flat stretch between pastures. Just beyond the handoff is a steep 3/10, followed by flat to rolling stretches through seven miles.
The course is nearly all on attractive backcountry roads, except for a brief .7-mile stretch on the wide shoulder of Route 101. Fields, farms, streams, stonewalls, old mills, and the mountain’s summit will provide the backdrop for this enjoyable rolling tour. The first week of June is a beautiful season in this region—late spring in the mountains.
After eight miles on rolling hills, runners find the last two miles are steep and near constant uphill. Old Revolutionary Road, a picturesque dirt and gravel byway from the 1700’s, meets Route 101 just short of the eight-mile mark. It is just under 1,300 feet elevation at that point, and nearly half the total elevation gain is within the last two miles. The parking lot at Miller State Park is 1,500 feet, with 1.3 miles remaining from there to the finish line on the summit—2,290 feet. The final auto road has switchbacks and very steep portions with declivities. The course is beautifully forested in the lower sections--the higher you get, the better the views.
The immediate reward for runners is a spectacular view of New Hampshire, from the southern cities to the magnificent White Mountains. Large tracts and peaks in neighboring Massachusetts and Vermont are also visible on a good day on the summit, including the skyline of Boston. Take time on the summit to ponder views encompassing Mount Washington and Bean Town, with shimmering ponds and villages between.
Post race ceremonies and a great cookout (the Gate City Striders and the Monadnock Milers are known for their post-race fare) will be held at the former Temple Mountain Ski Area, just across Route 101 from Miller State Park. The party will be under their big tent. The Monadnock Conservancy will hold a family field day, with information about Temple Mountain and the Wapack Trail (see below).
There will be team competition in addition to the Relay. Full distance teams will compete in open, masters, and senior divisions—both women’s and men’s teams. An unlimited number can run as a team—the first three score. Team awards include top three in the open division, first and second for masters, and the winners of the senior competition.
Individual age division awards—three deep--include open to 29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60+. Separately, points will be awarded (for USATF members) in the USATF-New England Mountain Circuit. Course records belong to several-time USATF Mountain Circuit Champions Eric Morse (58:36) and Margo Webber (74:18). This will be one great race, a unique challenge.
USATF-NE Mountain Circuit
The Pack Monadnock Ten Miler is one of six races that make up the USATF-New England Mountain running Circuit. This will be the 11th season for the Mountain Circuit--the only such series in the United States. Pack Monadnock was one of the original three races in this unique circuit when it began in 1996. The originator of the circuit was Dave Dunham, one of the top US Mountain runners, and a veteran of the National Team. He was also a three- time winner of the Mount Washington Road Race. Pack started in 1993 under the direction of George LeCours and the Gate City Striders.
Mountain races are character-building chases that challenge even the toughest and most experienced road racer. The hills are a test of athleticism and attitude. Mountain running is extremely popular in other countries, especially in Europe, and is growing in popularity in the USA. Two of the races in this circuit—the Northfield Mountain Run, Northfield, Massachusetts, and the Loon Mountain race, New Hampshire--will be selection events for the USA National Mountain Running Team. The National Team will participate at the World Mountain Running Championships in September.
The USATF Mountain Circuit will begin at Wachusett Mountain on May 27 in Princeton, Massachusetts, and end Mount Ascutney in Windsor, Vermont.
Races are open to all, but to score in the circuit athletes must be USATF members. Awards will be given for the series in women’s and men’s open, masters, seniors, and veterans categories, plus awards for the individual races. A unique prize will be given to “Mountain Goats” who complete all races. If you enjoy a unique challenge, this circuit presents the opportunity. For more information check www.usatf-ne.org.
The Monadnock Conservancy
The Monadnock Conservancy is “a regional land trust whose purposes are to identify, promote, and actively seek protection of lands with natural, aesthetic, and historic significance.” One of many places where they are working to preserve wild spaces is the former Temple Mountain Ski Area, including the western part of the mountain where the Wapack Trail is now located. The Wapack has been repositioned to the westernmost former ski trail.
The Conservancy will hold an informational session, a field day/open house at the base of Temple Mountain, in conjunction with the Pack Monadnock post race ceremonies. They will have maps and information on the corridor, and on the conservancy generally. They will likely be auctioning off the old wooden chairs of the Temple ski lift (they make exceptional porch or back yard swings).
Working with the owners of the Temple slopes, they are trying to make it part of a contiguous Greenway from New Hampshire’s border to the State Reservation at Crotched Mountain. This includes Temple, and the areas of the Contoocook River Valley between North Pack Monadnock Mountain and Crotched Mountain. They will share information and ideas with runners in regard to the wild spaces of the region, and especially the Wapack Trail, which they are working to preserve in conjunction with the Friends of the Wapack. For additional information call (603) 357-0600, or go to www.monadnockconservancy.org.
Pack Monadnock Mountain and Miller State Park
Miller State Park is named in honor of General James Miller, hero of the War of 1812. The park encompasses the summit and south flank of Pack Monadnock Mountain, and is the oldest state park in New Hampshire (1891). It covers 489 acres with a public auto road to the summit. There are also three hiking trails to the peak, including the venerable Wapack Trail.
You will have terrific, sweeping, panoramic views from the summit of Pack Monadnock. In good weather views include the White Mountains, Mount Ascutney (3.144), Crotched Mountain (2,055), and Mount Kearsarge (2,937) to the north. The skyline of Boston looms, clearly visible to the southeast. Grand Monadnock Mountain (3,165), the Green Mountains of Vermont, and the Berkshires of Massachusetts spread to the west. Pack is 2,290 feet, but key location and the relatively low surrounding region provide great views in all directions. Temple Mountain (2,081) is immediately south of Pack, and North Pack Monadnock (2,277), an isolated twin, sits just north.
Pack Monadnock is part of the Wapack ridges, also known as the “Blueberry Ridges” (blueberries are there in abundance, especially on North Pack—and they may be ripe by race day). Henry David Thoreau referred to these mountains as the “Peterboro Hills” and enjoyed hiking them in the mid 1800’s.
The term “Pack” meant “small” in Native American language. And this mountain is small compared to its Grand cousin 12 miles west, or the White Mountains to the north. But the views are a great draw. People came on horseback and carriages before cars. Pioneer House Inn was built high on the southwest side in 1892, with a view of Grand Monadnock. It burned in 1924, but the foundations are still visible near the auto road. The fire tower, now an observation tower, was built in 1939 and used by the state into the 1980’s.
General James Miller
General James Miller (1776-1851) was born in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and died at his farm in Temple, New Hampshire. Miller State Park, named in his honor, lies within the boundaries of both towns—as does Pack Monadnock Mountain.
Miller was a lawyer and a member of the New Hampshire Militia. Skillful as a military leader, he was commissioned a major in the US Army in 1808. During the War of 1812 he led a successful attack on a key British position at Niagara, the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. He captured the position against strong resistance and was rewarded with a commission as Brigadier General. He later fought heroically during British attacks on Fort Erie, and was rewarded with a Congressional Gold Medal.
After the war Miller was appointed Governor of Arkansas Territory (1819), and later was a Customs Officer at Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts. He retired to his Temple farm.
The Wapack Trail
The Wapack Trail is a 21-mile hiking trail and getaway from Mount Watatic in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, to North Pack Monadnock Mountain in Greenfield, New Hampshire--thus the name “WA- PACK”. It was blazed in 1923, and was the first inter-state trail in New England. It was a model for the famous Appalachian Trail. It begins in the Watatic Mountain Wildlife Area, and ends in the Wapack National Wildlife Refuge. Although Wapack is very close to population centers and relatively easy to get to, it seems much more remote and wild—just an outstanding trail.
The skyline route travels through a state wildlife refuge, state forest lands, a conservation area, at least two abandon ski areas, near a 1920’s ski lodge, through an active cross-country ski destination (Windblown Cross Country Ski Touring), a state park, and a national wildlife refuge. Much of the trail crosses private lands. It is beautifully shaded by spruce and deciduous forests, brightened by open ridge views, blueberry bushes, and wildflowers. It is inhabited by an array of wildlife, including deer, moose, and migratory birds. There are many stonewalls and cellar holes, indicating that this land was once mostly cleared for farming.
Major peaks along the trail from south to north include Mount Watatic (1,832), Pratt Mountain, New Ipswich (1,881), Barrett Mountain (1,853), Temple Mountain (2,081—also known as Holt Peak), Pack Monadnock (2,290), and North Pack Monadnock (2,277). It traverses Ashburnham and Ashby in Massachusetts, and New Ipswich, Temple, Sharon, Peterborough, and Greenfield in New Hampshire. Wapack has distinctive yellow triangle blazes. Information, maps, and directions for this beautiful, historic trail are available from Friends of the Wapack at www.wapack.org.
Wapack National Wildlife Refuge
Wapack National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 1,672 acres, including North Pack Monadnock Mountain. It is home to many of the 180 species of birds native to New Hampshire, among many other creatures. It is a spring and summer habitat for about 70 types of migratory birds that summer in New Hampshire, but spend their winters in the Caribbean or Central America. Many species of hawks make this a prime wild area their home. The Wapack is the northern part of an international flyway for these travelers. Bordering the refuge, between North Pack and South Pack, is the Joanne Bross Preserve, owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy. This area is a remarkable greenway and habitat easily accessible from Miller State Park and Pack Monadnock.
Unique Opportunity—You are Ready
You will enjoy this race, the beautiful country, and the hard-won view from the summit. Run this race if you are ready for a different challenge. Run this race, and you will never again be bothered by “hilly” courses. Unique satisfaction is born of unique endeavor--teammates. This well-planned event, with its beautiful course and rolling terrain, is just what the coach ordered for the first Sunday in June. It will set the tone for your summer season. Do it!