Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Sea To Summits Tour Preview

One thing I liked most about my early days of ultra running was that it was a relatively unknown sport. Many races had a small number of runners and over time you would see the same faces and got to know most of your competitors and often became friends. Not that I ever felt like I was racing against other runners. It was more about competing against the distance, the terrain and myself. I think many other ultra runners felt the same way. We offered encouragement to one another during races and did what we could to help each other get to the finish line.

This has all changed.

Ultra running has grown tremendously in the four years I was away from the sport and small races are more difficult to find. Now, when I look at the names of finishers in New England ultras I recognize very few names. I did manage to find two small races last fall which brought me back to "the good old days" of ultra running past. I could run these races again this year and hope that the fields remain small but my desire is to look for new challenges and not to repeat the same from the past.

Which brings me to my next project, The Sea to Summits Tour.

The Sea to Summits Tour (SST) is an attempt to bring me back to my running roots when I ran for the pure joy of it. No racing, no crowded trails. Just me and the forest. The SST is a 340 mile route I created by connecting existing trails in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. It begins at the Atlantic Ocean on the shore of Rhode Island Sound and ends on a mountain top in New Hampshire.  Along the way I will summit numerous mountains and smaller hills with over 111,000 feet of elevation gain and loss.

Sea to Summits Tour Route Overview

The Sea to Summits Route from South to North:
North-South Trail (red) - Rhode Island and Connecticut
Mid-State Trail (blue) - Massachusetts
Wapack and Cranberry Meadow Pond Trails (orange) - New Hampshire
Monadnock Sunapee Greenway Trail (green) - New Hampshire
Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway (red loop) - New Hampshire

I've already hiked to the northern terminus of the North-South Trail which is also the southern terminus of the Mid-State Trail (report will be posted soon) which leaves about 260 miles to go. Clearly, I wont' finish the entire route this year but I certainly hope it doesn't take as long to complete as my Bay Circuit Trail (BCT) journey. I plan to run some sections and hike others and I think this run/hike strategy over the remaining 260 miles will help me cover more distance in less time.

I'm looking forward to going old school.

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