Kirsch on the Mountains

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Paul Kirsch is deeply involved in the Mountain/Ultra/Trail (or MUT) running community. Paul serves as both a team manager for the US Mountain Running Team and also the MUT Chair on the USATF-NE board. It’s only natural that we turn to him when looking to get a finger on the pulse of the mountain scene. Road races are all the rage these days, but there’s just something gritty, hard-nosed and olde school about mountain running that the Level finds very appealing. We plan on expanding our scope to cover more of that, and here’s a nice intro to the 2013 mountain running circuit from Paul:

It’s been a tough last month in the running community, especially in New England, where we all know someone who was within 50 or 100 feet of the bomb blast on April 15th. I remember going for a trail run the morning of the 16th with my dogs. What is normally my zen moment of the day, my escape from all that is tough and stressful in the world, had been fouled by the tragic events of the day before. A few heartless people had taken our outlet, our escape and done something that caused us to associate it with sadness and pain and death.

I say all of the above with the perspective of someone who was affected on a minimal level compared to the people who were there in Boston that day. I can only imagine what they are all going through on so many levels.

I’ve continued to have those thoughts all in the back of my head until this past Sunday when I made the early morning drive over to Huntington, VT for the first race in the 2013 USATF New England Mountain Running Circuit. When you live in rural New Hampshire and you drive across NH and VT at 4AM, it’s hard not to be at peace and pretty mellow on the drive. No one is on the road, the scenery is amazing, and you better have a well stocked iPod because Satellite radio only gets reception for about 50% of the time. When I got to Sleepy Hollow Ski and Bike Center in Huntington, I started to see familiar faces and I was reminded again of the amazing feeling of community and all that is right with the world when I am in the midst of my favorite people - the mountain running folks. We come in all shapes, sizes and abilities but we all share a fierce competitive spirit and a good sense of humor, as we voluntarily go up and down mountains for the fun of it. It was the perfect antidote to my feelings of the last 3 weeks.

Leslie O’Dell Beckwith appears to be all smiles at Sleepy Hollow. Courtesy of Scott Mason.

Sleepy Hollow is the perfect way to kick off that beautiful simplicity that is mountain running- a low key race with a focus on a quality course and enough amenities to enjoy it but not so many that the “race” gets lost in the “event” of it all. The race is organized by Kasie Enman and Liz Hollenbach and the GMAA. That’s Kasie Enman as in “2011 World Mountain Running Champion” Kasie Enman, because, in the no-ego world of mountain running, it makes perfect sense that the world champion would follow up her amazing performance in 2011 by organizing a great mountain race for the rest of us.

I look forward to race #2 in the circuit at Wachusett and the rest of the series, surrounded by amazing people, who will remind me throughout the series of the amazing vibe of the mountain running community and everything that is right in the world with runners.

We do have something coming on the Sleepy Hollow race, I swear! Come on Newbould, all eyes are on you. No pressure no pressure no pressure…

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