The blue/green hues of the not-too-distant mountains suggest a pleasantly cool atmosphere, harkening the sensation of diving in tropical waters and swimming by a reef. That couldnâ€™t be further from the true nature of the conditions Sunday at the Bretton Woods Fell Race. It was hot (90 degrees) and it was humid. Many fell from contention (see what we did there?), and ultimately DNFâ€™d, due to the tough combination of the climbing and the weather.Â Fell ended up being a pretty accurate term, although not in the intended way. According to Dave Dunham, about 12% of the field DNFâ€™d.
The weather wasnâ€™t much of a surprise. It was part of the first heat wave of the season and it had been talked about quite a bit. It still doesnâ€™t make it any easier to stomach. This post from Scott Mason on Facebook said quite a bit about how seriously people were in making their last minutes preparations:
As for the actual race itself, by the end of the day there was a shake up in the mountain series standings, for the men at least. There was also a beast sighting. No, Iâ€™m talking about Sasquatch (aka Brandon Newbould). There was apparently a moose that decided to crash onto the course at one point. Meanwhile, Brandon (Whirlaway) was on a mission and emerged from the grueling, hot fell race as the winner and the new series leader. Brandonâ€™s 1:10:13 was tops on the day, no official word on his distance and pace though.
Not too far behind Brandon were Tristan Williams and Eric MacKnight. Eric (also of Whirlaway) had been the series leader, but after this race he is now in second and has Callaghan hot on his heels.
In the womenâ€™s race, Christin Doneski won her second series race of the year and retained her spot atop the leader board. It was yet another dominant performance from the Whirlaway masters runner as she once again bested the open runners and also came in 8th place overall. Leslie Beckwith (acidotic Racing) ran an impressive race as well and was only a few spots back, but it wasnâ€™t enough to keep up with Doneski that day.
Now back to that moose sighting (we werenâ€™t kidding about that). Dave Dunham was right there and for a brief moment he had an unexpected running partner:
“The Moose was incredible. I think I came closest to him. I was bombing down Avalon ski trail yelling “Moose” as it trotted about 30 meters in front of me and maybe 30 meters above a conga line of people working up the slope. Awesome!”
One big draw to this whole series is the Mountain Goat status one can attain from running the entire series. Not only does this cause your competition to tremble in fear just from seeing you, but it also allows you to bypass the Mt. Washington lottery the next year. In other word, itâ€™s a big deal. USATF-NE MUT Chairperson Paul Kirsch made an announcement ahead of the race regarding this feature, and addresses it again here:
“Because of the absurd heat (90 or so) and because this race was pretty tough (3300 feet of climbing and descent spread out three ascents/descents over 7 or so miles) I did officially announce before the race that anyone going for Mountain Goat status (doing all 6 races in the circuit and bypassing MWRR lottery) who ended up dropping out today due to heat issues would get one point in series scoring for the day and would still be counted for the race.Â I did this just because I didnâ€™t want anyone getting badly hurt because they were shooting for Mt. Goat status.”
The series continues on June 9th at Ascutney Mt. Challenge.