Monday, December 31, 2012

Breakheart Trail Running Year End Gear Sale

Cleaning House

The new year is just around the corner so it's out with the old, and the new!

I have way too much gear cluttering up the house and haven't been able to use it anyway so it's got to go. All the gear is brand new or in excellent condition except were noted. They’re also priced to move. I may be adding more items as I dig deeper into my gear closet so be sure to check back again.

Payment, Shipping and Local Pickup

Most purchases will ship via USPS for $5 to $10 depending on weight and dimensions.  All payments must be made using Paypal.  If you live in the Boston Area, local pickup is available. 

Contact Form

Please post a comment if you want to buy an item or if you have a question.  Please include your email address so I can respond to you.

MSR Fast Stash

MSR Fast Stash Tarp Shelter

MSRP: $300
Sale Price: $200 - Sorry, item has Sold
Condition: Excellent

This is a versatile, ultralight shelter that offers full protection and ample room for 2 people in a single-wall body that pitches quickly.  Adjustable side wings add external coverage and allow maximum ventilation.

Check out the full-features of the Fast Stash
Alps Meramac 3 Room Tent

Alps Mountaineering Meramac 7 Person Tent

MSRP: $369.99
Sale Price: $225 Sorry, item has Sold
Condition: New
Local Pickup preferred but will ship.

I naively thought I could convince my daughters to come car camping with my wife and I so I purchased this 10' x 16' three room tent.  It's never been out of the box! To learn more about this tent go to the Alps website.
Kelty Screenhouse

Kelty Screenhouse - Large

MSRP: $319.95
Sale Price: $150 Sorry, item has Sold

Condition: Very Good Dimensions: 156"W x 76"H x 132"D
Local Pickup preferred but will ship.

This screenhouse offers a generous 143 square feet of floor space and is large enough to cover a picnic table.  It has two large mesh doors and four mesh windows with pull-down shades. This shelter is a beast and it's best to have two people available for setting it up. 

Mountain Hardware Brono Soft-Shell Jacket

MSRP: $225
Sale Price: $125
Size: Men's Large Sorry, item has Sold
Condition: New

This jacket is warm without constricting movement or overheating, perfect for climbing, hiking or biking.

Check out the features of the Brono Jacket
Tubbs Venture Snowshoes

Tubbs Venture Snowshoes

Paid: $125
Current Retail: $189 - Sorry, item has Sold
Sale Price:$50
Size: Men's 25 inch
Load:  120 - 200 pounds
Condition: Good
Local Pickup preferred but will ship.

These are recommended for recreational and trail use on packed snow, broken trails, gently rolling terrain and small hills. You wouldn't want to run a marathon with these strapped to your feet but they're bombproof in the back woods.

GSI Pinnacle Soloist Cookset

MSRP: $44.95
Sale Price: $30.00 Sorry, item has Sold
Condition: New

This 10.8 oz cooking system includes a 1.1 liter cooking pot, a 14 ounce mug/bowl and a folding spork.  Nested items store in the stuff sack which double as a wash basin. A fuel canister and stove will also fit into the pot making this a very compact cook system.

Check it out!
Stoic Waterproof Compression Sacks

Stoic Waterproof Compression Sacks - Lg, Med, Sm

MSRP: $26 Lg, $22 Med, $16 Sm
Sale Price $15 Lg, $12, $10 Sm (set of three for $33) - Sorry, items have Sold
Condition: New
Dimensions: Lg - 15 Liters, Med - 10L, Sm - 5L

Made of tough, lightweight 190T nylon and moisture shunning TPU lamination with a roll-top closure and air value to remove excess air for increased compression. 
The North Face Denali Beenie

The North Face Denali Thermal Beenie

MSRP: $30
Sale Price: $21 Sorry, item has Sold
Size: Women's - One Size
Condition: New

Breathable, quick-drying, non-pilling polyester fleece offers warmth without a lot of weight. Machine washable.
Nathan Quick Draw Plus

Nathan Quick Draw Plus Hand-Held

MSRP: $21
Sale Price: $15 Sorry, item has Sold
Color: Hot Pink!
Condition: New in packaging

A 22 ounce hand-held water bottle with a zippered pocket to hold your smartphone, keys or cash.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Another Snow-less Snow Shoe Season?

In one week the 2013 WMAC Dion Snowshoe Racing Series kicks off with it's first race in East Poestnekill, NY.  There's only one problem.  There isn't any snow on the ground in East Poestnekill.  It's not looking much better for the second race in Woodford, VT either.  A quick look at NOAA's  snow coverage map reveals a lack of snow in most of eastern NY, southern VT, southern NH and all of Massachusetts.

This is eerily similar to last December and the 2012 season was pretty much a wipe-out.   Someone better start doing a snow dance.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December 1st

Today is December 1st.

It's the first day of the last month in a year filled with disappointment, pain, sadness and at times optimism.  The events of the past 11 months give me no reason to feel optimistic but I do my best to have a positive outlook. Or is it denial?  Only the future will reveal the answer.

I decided months ago I would no longer plan for the future.  The plans and goals I made over the past three years went mainly unfulfilled.  Yet, I find myself already making plans for 2013.  Doing so makes me hopeful.  It's all I have right now.

So, here are my tentative plans for next year in order of importance.  Some of you may be surprised where running falls on the list.  I've done most of what I wanted to do over the past 40+ years as a runner, except run a hundred mile race, so it's time to move on the next adventure.

Complete the Bay Circuit Trail.
Last year I attempted to run the entire 200 miles of the Bay Circuit Trail from Plum Island in Newbury to Kingston on the South Shore.   An injury stopped me after 103 miles so I have some unfinished business waiting for me.  This time I'll be hiking, not running.

A yo-yo hike of the Wapack Trail.
I sort of have a love-hate relationship with this 22 mile trail.  I've run two races on the Wapack Trail and the trail got the better of me both times.  It's a challenging trail with many mountain peaks and great views on a clear day.  Maybe I'll enjoy it more this time around.  My plan is to hike the trail South to North, stealth camp overnight and return back to MA the next day.

This 50 mile trail in western New Hampshire begins and ends on the summits of mountains so unless you can get a helicopter infiltration and extraction, the total distance is closer to 55 miles.  Depending on my physical condition when I attempt this, it would likely take me 3-5 days to complete.  There are shelters on the trail but I would still carry a tent since I prefer softer soil to hard planks.

Thru-hike the Midstate Trail.
Hiking this 95 mile trail in Worcester Country from Rhode Island to New Hampshire would be good preparation for an Appalachian Trail section hike through New England but I'm getting way ahead of myself here.  

Run some races in the Grand Tree Trail Race Series.
I have fond memories of my many Grand Tree races of the past.  I met several good people at these races and always enjoyed running in different locations.  I would love to get back to my trail running roots. 

Well, that's enough dreaming for now.  It's time for another walk in the snow.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife Gear Review

No serious backpacker, hunter or outdoorsmen(women) would ever enter the woods without a sturdy knife or the means to start a fire. Wouldn't it be great if you could combine these two essential backcountry tools into one?   Well, look no further. The Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife was created through a collaboration between Light My Fire, the maker of FireSteel, and Mora of Sweden, the manufacturer of top-notch knives for over 120 years.  

Three parts of the Swedish FireKnife

The FireKnife consists of three components, the sheath, the knife and the fire steel.  The sheath is made of light-weight, durable polypropylene.  It has a large clip making it suitable for clipping to a belt or pants pocket.  The sheath does and excellent job of holding the knife in place.  When properly inserted, the knife "clicks" into place.  Turning the sheath upside down and shaking it will not dislodge the knife. 

The Sandvik stainless steel knife blade is a little short at 3 3/4 inches but extremely sharp and sturdy.   It is capable of batoning smaller branches and still keep a sharp edge.  The tip  of the knife is very strong and will not snap if accidentally jammed into a log and twisted. The rubber coated handle is comfortable and will work well in all but the largest of hands.

The fire steel is similar to the Light My Fire Scout model but the rod is slightly shorter and the handle is smaller with a different shape.  The rod can product a fair amount of sparks that reach a temperature of 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit.  This makes lighting a tinder bundle fairly easy on dry, low wind days.  Another great thing about fire steels is that they work equally well when wet.  The same can not be said for matches or Bic lighters.

The fire steel fits securely in the handle of the knife.  It can only be removed by twisting the fire steel a quarter turn, so losing the steel is highly unlikely.  If but some chance you do misplace any one of the components, they come in very bright colors making it easier to locate them on the ground.

A neat, compact package

At 3.9 ounces for the complete set the Swedish FireKnife is not only durable, it is very light-weight.  It would make a great addition to any outdoor enthusiast's gear inventory.

The Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife can be purchased at REI.

Disclosure: Light My Fire provided Breakheart Trail Running with a complimentary Swedish FireKnife for testing and review.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Northern Strand Community Trail

Perseverance pays off.

For the past 20 years, the Bike to the Sea organization has been working to transform 10 miles of abandoned railroad line into a bike and footpath.  The railroad line, known as the Saugus Branch Railroad  was founded in 1848 and connected the cites of Everett, Revere, Malden, the town of Saugus and the city of Lynn.  Passenger trains ran through Saugus from the 1850s until the mid-1950s. The Saugus Branch included three stations, one in Saugus Center, one in Cliftondale, and one in Pleasant Hills.  Only the Cliftondale Station remains.  When I was in my twenties I would ride my motocross bike on these tracks to get from Lynn to Revere so I could race other dirt bikers on the huge sand dunes left behind in Revere when a proposed re-route of Interstate 95 never happened.  On rare occasions, a freight train would pass along the same rails but the tracks have been abandoned for at least two decades.

Bike to the Sea Route

Cliftondale Station - 1853

I was very pleased when I learned that work would begin in my town on removing the old tracks during the summer months and resurfacing the 2.5 mile section of the Northern Strand Communty Trail through Saugus before the end of 2012. The trail has already been completed in Everett and most of the Malden section earlier this spring.  Work will begin in Revere next year but Lynn still has not committed to do the work.  Hopefully, pressure will mount on Lynn once they are the only community standing it the way of progress.

Looking north on the trail into Saugus at the Malden - Saugus line.

I took a walk over the weekend to check on the progress of the trail though Saugus.  All of the track has been removed and approximately 1.5 miles is complete and functional. Another mile still needs to be resurfaced with recycled asphalt and the bridge over the Saugus River is only about 30% complete.  You can cross the bridge in it's current state but there are no railings on either side.

 A stand of birch trees line this section of the trail.

 Unfinished section from Central Street in Saugus to the Lynn line.

Foot bridge being built over the Saugus River. 

Looking east at the proposed route into Lynn.

Several photos of my walk along the trail can be viewed HERE.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jumping on the Hoka Bandwagon

I have a few ultrarunning friends that love their Hoka running shoes.  They swear they can run farther and recovery faster since they switched to Hokas.  And the Hokas are light and nimble despite their appearance.

According to the Hoka One One website, lab tests have shown that Hoka’s rockered midsole geometry and low heel-toe differential encourages proper form by allowing a runner to easily strike the ground near the midfoot. Slow motion video confirms that the extra foam in the midsoles also greatly reduces the rate of pronation and supination by quickly stabilizing the movement of the foot upon impact with the ground.

Hoka One One shoes are also ideal for running trails with abrupt climbs, steep descents and technical features such as rocks, roots and trail debris. The uniquely designed midsole softens the increased impacts of downhill running and acts as a buffer against jagged obstacles on the trail. While traditional low-to-the-ground shoes can be very unstable on rocky trails, Hoka shoes are reliably steady because the additional midsole foam helps to stabilize the foot by allowing the outsole to make secure contact with the ground.

"Running in Hokas is effortless, like running in a playful dream state. Each step is full of curiosity and wonderment, immediately connecting you to new possibilities. You lose yourself in every stride — you bounce, you float, you soar, you fly. It feels like fantasy, but it’s real."

For real?  I need to get me some of that!

If you've been looking to try a pair of Hoka's, now is a good time to act.  They are currently 60% off at Left Lane Sports.

 Follow the link HERE:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

GoLite Running Tights

The cool weather has arrived so now is a perfect time to transition over to a pair of high quality running tights. Lightweight, cold weather compression tights gives extra warmth where you need it most while still providing plenty of breathability to maximize comfort and performance. Whether you are winter running, nordic skiing, or snowshoeing, these Golite tights will keep you warm and cozy.

I've found a great deal on Golite running tights for men and women at 60 -70 percent off. A great price on great tights! Just click on the GoLite link below. You can thank me later.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Get Shopping. Save Big!

Breakheart Trail Running (BHTR) is now working with several outdoor retailers though their respective affiliate programs. As an affiliate, BHTR receives a small commission on sales generated via referrals from this blog’s links to the retailers’ websites. There is no additional cost to the buyer as the retailer pays this fee in return for increased sales volume. It’s a win for the buyer, seller and BHTR!

BHTR is also able to offer special promotions not available to the general public. The latest offer comes to us from my much beloved REI. From now until October 23rd you can get an additional 20% off items already discounted 75% at REI-OUTLET’s Affiliates Only Sale. That’s 80% of retail if you do the math!

I just picked up a $225 Mountain Hardware soft-shell for $44.66, a $100 Boooks running jacket for $19.06 and a $90 SportHill mid-weight top for $17.46. That’s a savings of $334. Score!!

So let’s get shopping and help keep the lights on here at Breakheart Trail Running. Follow the link below and don’t forget to use coupon code AF20PERCENT at checkout to get your additional 20% savings.

Thanks for your support.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

AT On My Mind

The more time I spend away from running the less likely it is I'll return to it.   It's not that my love for the sport has diminished, but my need for it certainly has.   I find myself thinking more about long-distance backpacking and less about long-distance running.  I'm not ready for either activity right now but in time I hope to get back to doing something that will make me feel whole.  Until then, I'm happy there are others out there willing to share their adventures.  

Here's a good look at Maine's 100 mile wilderness on the Appalachian Trail courtesy of Martin Rye.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Walking In The Woods

Putting in more miles on the sidewalks of Saugus on such a beautiful Sunday afternoon did not appeal to me in the least. I have to avoid rough terrain and steep or long hills so walking in the woods is not something I've been able to do. But then I thought the lowlands of the Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary might be just the thing for me.  I hopped in my truck and 25 minutes later I was walking tranquil trails and quiet carriage roads under towering trees.  Sure beats pavement!

I didn't see any birds of distinction but did come across a doe with her two fawns and a chunky woodchuck.  Unfortunately, they scampered off before I could get any photos of them.  I did get a few nice pictures though. At least I think so.

Stone walls line the carriage road leaving the visitors center.

Towering hemlocks

View from stone bridge.

Tranquil trails await.

Mill Pond

Crazy tree with antlers.


First sign of autumn.

More photos can be viewed HERE.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Looking Over My Shoulder - Exploring The Bay Circuit Trail

Two of the things I enjoy most about trail running is spending time outdoors with friends and exploring trails in new areas.  During my five run, 103 mile journey on the Bay Circuit Trail back in 2011, I got to do both.   I experienced an eclectic mix of technical single-track, dirt roads, city streets, open meadows, dense forests and historic landmarks. I've compiled photos taken along the way into five video slide shows.  Perhaps they will inspire you to get off the road and discover this underutilized gem.
Day 1: Newbury to Rowley

Day 2: Rowley to Boxford

Day 3: Boxford to Andover

Day 4: Andover to Chelmsford

Day 5: Chelmsford to Weyland

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Another Gu Giveaway

It's pathetic that my running career has degenerated to this but when life hands you lemons, give away your GU!

Six months ago I released some Gu Energy gels from my vast stockpile to one lucky winner.  This time I'm upping the ante by awarding 15 gels (vanilla bean and chocolate outrage) to two lucky runners, hikers, name it.  That's 30 less gels cluttering up my gear closet. Sweet!

Now you must be thinking, "Whoa this Dan dude is a great guy giving away his stuff!"  Well, not really. I'm unloading these gels because they expire in four months and I hate to see them getting thrown in the trash.   

To be eligible for the drawing, please leave a comment telling me what's your favorite fuel (other than Gu) for ultra races.  Mine is turkey and cheese sandwiches with chicken noodle soup a close second.  If you don't run ultras, (you're obviously smarter than me) just tell me what you eat during your endurance sport of choice.

I'll announce the winners in about one week.  If you're one of the lucky ones, just shoot an email to me with your full name and address and I'll get these out to you asap.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tragedy On The AT

During these many months of inactivity I've become somewhat of an obsessive follower of this season's Appalachian Trail thru-hikers.  I've followed many such hikers but took particular interest in one young, Massachusetts man by the name of Jake Mehlman (aka Achilles) who started his journey on Springer Mountain in Georgia on February 27th.   Jake is young and strong and put in big miles right from the very beginning of his hike. He was confident in his ability but not cocky, and displayed a genuineness in his trail journal entries.

Early on, he met another young man named Paul Bernhardt (aka Parkside) from Queens, NY.  Unlike Achilles, Parkside had no prior hiking experience and never spent a night out in the woods prior to starting his AT thru-hike. Despite their different backgrounds, they became good friends and covered many miles together over the next few months. 

On June 15th, after 20 miles of hiking, they arrived at the Pierce Pond lean-to in Maine, some 2,029 trail miles from Springer mountain, and only 155 miles from their final destination, Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park.  I'm sure they must have been very excited knowing they would be standing on the summit of Katahdin in less than two weeks.  But fate, the trail gods or (insert higher power of your choice) had other plans for one of these fine young men.

That evening, Parkside entered the water and swam approximately 200 yards from the shelter, alone, and without informing any of the other hikers at the shelter of his plans.  Perhaps he tired after a long day of hiking, or perhaps his muscles cramped in the cold mountain water.  No one will ever know for sure.  But, by the time the others were aware of his distress, it was too late to help him.  Parkside drowned in Pierce Pond. 

Paul "Parkside" Bernhardt 

Achilles left the trail for a week to attend Parkside's wake and funeral and to spend some time with Parkside's family in NY.  He returned to Maine on June 24th and reached the northern terminus of the AT on June 29th, completing his 2184 mile journey.   He carried the ashes of his good friend Paul with him to the summit of Mt. Katahdin.  They finished their journey together in a manner neither one of them could have foreseen.  

"The 100 Mile Wilderness proved tougher than I expected, although much of this was based on emotional strain. I can honestly say I never would have made it to Katahdin without the support of other hikers. As a group, we made it with Parkside, and celebrated his life in a fashion that I'm sure he would have approved of. He had an amazing impact on not only my life, but on the lives of almost everyone he met along the trail."  - Achilles

Jake "Achilles" Mehlman

Although I do not know Jake and Paul, I am sadden by the lost of a life so young, and of Jake's loss of a good friend.  The one thing I take away from this tragedy is the reminder that life is fleeting.  Plan less. Do more. Live now.

And remember to say, "I love you," to those special people in your life.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

CamelBak Flow Meter - Product Review

When it comes to fluid intake I’m not a camel. I require water, and plenty of it, especially in warm weather. On long, multi-hour runs a hydration pack is my gear of choice. I have several to choose from with bladder capacities ranging from 60-100 ounces. The only problem with using a hydration pack is that it’s difficult to monitor your fluid intake without stopping, taking off the pack and checking the bladder to see how much fluid is remaining. This isn’t really a convenient method so you can imagine my delight when I discovered the CamelBak Flow Meter.

The flow meter displays the amount of fluid consumed, the amount remaining in the bladder, estimates how long the remaining fluid will last based on your current consumption rate and a few other bits of information. I thought this would be a great addition to my gear collection last year when I stared my exploration on the Bay Circuit Trail where I would spend up to eight hours on my feet on some days.

Unfortunately, the meter doesn’t work! I tried it several times but it never displayed how many ounces I drank. The impeller in the valve appears to be spinning but it just doesn’t record any information. I have read other reviews for this product and most of those reported that when it worked, it was highly inaccurate. I think CamelBak makes very good gear but this is one concept that looks good on paper but doesn’t work in the field.

Based on my experience, I do not recommend this product.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary

I spend a couple of hours wandering though the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary on a sunny and warm Saturday afternoon.  With 12 miles of trails spread over 2,267 acres of forest, field and wetlands it wasn't nearly enough time.  I covered less than three miles on my casual walk but it was time well spend.  I haven't been in the woods for months so the sights, sounds and smells were good for my soul.  I'd like to return someday to run the many miles of unexplored trails but that will have to wait for now.

A gazebo on South Esker Trail.

A view of Great Wenham Swamp.

A stone bridge over Waterfowl Pond.

Boardwalk to Rockery Pond.

Walking through a glacial boulder tunnel.

Arriving at my new homestead. That would be sweet!

More photos of the sanctuary can be viewed HERE.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Stuff" Ultrarunners Say

I know this is old and you've probably seen it but thought I'd repost in case you missed it.  I'm not going to tell you how many of these things I've said or done myself.  This guy must be a rookie though. No one rips the top completely off a gel packet !

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Grand Plans For Grand Tree, Gone

Last August, while running the TARC 12 Hour Race, I confided in my friend Steve (author of 12 Ultras in 12 Months and A Clydesdale's Tale) that I was going to take a year off from ultra running.  The injuries I had been plagued with for the past 18 months needed to be dealt with.  I felt that running ultras were preventing me from getting healthy and I just wasn't having any fun running hurt all the time.  Steve, being a kind and compassionate friend say, "Quit whining you wuss!" and immediately picked up his pace and left me in the dust. I take some credit for motivating him to a second place finish in the race. It was here, in the lonely woods of Medfield, when my plan to run the 2012 Grand Tree Trail Race Series was hatched.

I have fond memories of the Grand Tree Series from years past and was hoping my return to the series would rekindle my passion for running which had been lacking for many months. I ran my first Grand Tree Race in October 2006 at Diamond Hill which was also my first trail race ever.  It was love at first run. I was hooked on trail running!  While competing in GT races I've run on amazing trails, met many friendly runners and made a few good friends.  Yes, this is the place I wanted to be in 2012.

My goal for the series was to accumulate 1000 points or more and finish in the top three in the Stonehead rankings.  That may seem like an unrealistic goal for an old, slow guy like me but I had a plan.  Since I'm slow, I wouldn't score many points in each individual race, perhaps 60-65 at best.  The only way I could reach my goal of 1000 points would be to run most of the races in the series.  Perseverance over speed!  I planned to run 18 of the 21 possible races, combining weekend camping with the races held in far western MA and RI. I was really happy with this plan and looking forward to running in new locations and trying out some of my new camping gear.

Well, with the first race of the series just three days away my plan just blew up! I haven't run in over three months and it's likely I won't be running in the next month or two. Although I'm finally seeing some improvement with my SI issue it looks like I'll miss at least the first five or six races in the series. I have zero chance of reaching my goal if I miss any of the spring races.  I'm not sure if I'll run any summer races (since I hate the heat) but will likely run a few of the fall GT races.  The up side to running fewer races is that I'll save a lot of money on gas, camping permits and race registrations.  I'm trying to look for the silver lining here people!

Back to the drawing board.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Run for the Troops 5K

On Sunday, several members of my family participated in the Run for the Troops 5K [results] race in Andover, MA.   The Run for the Troops events are held to honor our Military and help build homes designed for the unique injuries of specific soldiers.  This race was to support Marine Sergeant Josh Bouchard of Granby, MA.  Sergeant Bouchard was on his second deployment when he lost his left leg, broke his back and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury after his vehicle drove over an IED in Afghanistan in 2009.  Donations can be made HERE.

We ran/walked as Team Michael for my nephew who is currently serving in the U.S. Army. Our team members ranged from four month old Natalie to my 85 year old dad who is a Marine veteran of World War II.  It was a great morning to walk with sunny skies and cool temperatures.  The course which was mostly uphill for the first two miles looped thought  pleasant tree-lined neighborhoods.  I walked the course was with my dad finishing in 1:02:06 (official time).

Team Michael

It was a fun day spent with family and great way to give back a little to those who give so much to us and country.

Be safe.

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