Pack Monadnock 2006--Ten Mile Challenge, and 2 X 5 Relay
Pack Monadnock: USATF-NE Mountain Circuit race, terrific course, 5 X 2 relay, delicious post race food. Yes, it is a challenge, an experience, and a view.
Posted Wednesday, 31 May, 2006
The Pack Monadnock Ten Miler is a hill-climb challenge—the right race at the right time. It is an ideal training run for Mount Washington, scheduled two weeks before the famous climb to New England’s highest peak. And Pack is one of the original races in the USATF New England Mountain Circuit, the only series of mountain races in the country. Exceptionally well planned and organized, it will be a memorable experience and a unique challenge. For the second year there will be a two-person relay for those who want to participate in a great event, but are not up to a ten miler. This will be mountain and distance running at it’s best.
Running on 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. 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. The Pack Monadnock Ten Miler is a challenge, including 2,000 feet of elevation—mostly rolling the first eight miles, with some steep inclines, a beautiful course on country roads.
The race will be co-hosted by two of New Hampshire’s excellent running clubs, the founding Gate City Striders based in Nashua and the Monadnock Regional Milers, centered in Peterborough. Registration and pre-race activities will be at the high school. Post race festivities will be at the former Temple Mountain Ski Area, just across Route 101 from Miller State Park. Gear bags will be transported to the finish for this point-to-point race.
From the start on Highland Street start there is an immediate uphill one-mile before the course flattens out on a pleasant dirt/gravel stretch along an old millpond. The course is on beautifully picturesque country roads bordering woods and farms, including 1.5 on two stretches of dirt roads.
The handoff point for the two-person 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.
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 at the base is 1,500 feet, with 1.3 miles remaining from the lot 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.
There is a brief .7-mile stretch on the wide shoulder of Route 101, starting just before mile 8, which also marks the beginning of the steep final two miles. The final 1.3 miles are actually steeper than Mount Washington, with an extremely steep section just before the summit and the finish (again, similar to Mount Washington). Fields, farms, streams, stonewalls, old mills, and the mountain’s summit will provide the backdrop for this enjoyable rolling tour, late spring in the mountains.
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.
Medals will awarded in the following age groups: Open to age 29; sub master, 30-39; master, 40-49; senior, 50-59; and Veteran, 60 and over.
There will be team competition in addition to the Relay. Team awards will also be given (top three scoring): Women’s and men’s Open, Masters, and Seniors. Awards will also be given for the top three women’s relay teams, men’s relay, and mixed relay.
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). Check the Website for other records.
Post Race—Very Different, and with Good Food
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, including the presentation of awards. The Monadnock Conservancy will hold a family field day, with information about Temple Mountain and the Wapack Trail (see below).
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. This year there will be six races, including the New England Mountain Running Championship, and the New England Trail Running Championship, and a National Mountain running Team Selection Race. This is also a big year for New England Mountain Running, as Mount Washington will be the National Championship event.
Pack Monadnock was one of the original three races in this unique circuit when it began in 1996 (Wachusett Mountain and Mount Kearsarge were the other two). 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 was first contested in 1993 under the direction of George LeCours and the Gate City Striders.
The USATF-NE Circuit gets underway on May 27 with the original member Wachusett Mountain, a 4.3-mile challenge to the peak via the auto road. Pack Monadnock will be the second race on June 4.
Loon Mountain—13.2 K--the first year in the Circuit, will run on June 24 in Lincoln, New Hampshire. It will be the New England Championship of Mountain Running and a selection race for the National Team. The National Team will compete in the World Mountain Running Championships in Buna, Turkey on September 10, 2006. The championship in 2005 was held in New Zealand.
The Northfield Mountain Run, Northfield, Massachusetts, will be the New England Trail Running Championship, running 6.4 miles in two loops (up and down) on June 10, 2006. The other two races in the Circuit are the Mount Cranmore Hill Climb, North Conway, New Hampshire, a 10K two-loop course this year on July 8; and Mount Ascutney in Windsor, Vermont, a 3.8-mile climb to the summit on July 15, 2006.
Mountain 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. General Miller (1776-1851) was born in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and lived in Temple, New Hampshire. Miller State Park lies within the boundaries of both towns—as does Pack Monadnock Mountain.
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.
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.
Are You Ready for Some Mountain Running
The Pack Monadnock Tem Miler or Two Person Relay will be a great experience. Perhaps it is time for a new challenge to spice up your competitive running. You will enjoy the beautiful route and the hard-won view from the summit. Run this race, and you will never again be bothered by “hilly” courses. Unique satisfaction is born of unique endeavor.
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. Try it! Do it!