Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hairy Gorilla Half and Squirrely Six

Today I took photos at the 2013 running of the Hairy Gorilla Half-Marathon and Squirrely Six Trail Races at John Boyd Thatcher State Park in Voorheesville, NY. The races are part of the annual Grand Tree Trail Race Series, a (rather loosely-defined geographically) collection of regional trail races chosen by the Western Massachusetts Athletic Club. Each race is also (and primarily) its own entity, run by different individuals, clubs, and organizations. These 2 races were different from many others in the series in that they are distinctly Halloween themed. I saw more people running in costumes than I have even in some local Halloween 5Ks. It was awesome.

The courses follow much of the same route as the Indian Ladder 15K Trail Race I shot at earlier this year. The six mile race is essentially the same as the first half of the half-marathon, so I was able to get photos of everyone multiple times. I have shots from the start, from where everyone passed by a lurking chainsaw-wielding madman in the woods, from what would have been a dramatic stream crossing had there been any water, from an open field at the edge of the escarpment, and from the graveyard you have to run through at the finish. Some sample images are included below, and you can view the full photo gallery here.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Two Classics

In the past two weeks, I've had a great time taking photos at two more trail races in the Western Massachusetts Athletic Club's Grand Tree Trail Race series: the Monroe Dunbar Brook Trail Race and the Mt. Toby Trail Run (I wrote brief race reports after running each last year, Monroe-Dunbar here and Mt. Toby here). I didn't get to actually run either this year, but it was still fun to be a part of them by being out on the course on gorgeous fall days. Plus Jen ran Monroe Dunbar, which was a fantastic accomplishment for her, especially considering that she'd never run any race ever prior to doing the 2-mile version a year ago. Here's a very brief sampling of shots, and full photo galleries are up at Northeast Race Photo.

the stream crossing at mile 9.5 of the Monroe Dunbar Brook Trail Race

the Mt. Toby race is a local classic

descending the road on Mt. Toby

Thursday, October 17, 2013

the secretest little vernal pool in the Holyoke Range

For the last year or so, I've been on an obsessive personal quest to run every single navigable trail and trail-like route on public land in the Holyoke Range. Sometimes it's been frustrating, such as when I plan my general route using a combination of the 2009 AMC map (it's borderline irresponsible of them to still be printing and selling that one) and old mountain bike trail maps found online (detailed, but incomplete and about 10 years out-of-date). Or when I unexpectedly come across unmarked/unmapped trails that are so significant that it boggles the mind that they weren't previously mapped. Or when I go looking for a mapped trail that either doesn't exist anymore or possibly was never there on the ground in the first place. But mostly it's been rewarding, both in terms of the great physical training it's given me and the amazing sense of place that comes with really getting to know an area in depth.

In particular, I've really enjoyed getting to see all the little hidden geographic gems. Some fairly regular features found throughout the Range are vernal pools, those small ephemeral ponds that dry up by mid-summer but serve as important breeding sites for a variety of amphibians such as frogs and salamanders. I've seen a bunch of them in my foot travels, many right along trails and others tucked away in untracked pockets.

The other day I found myself following a faint old woods road (not mapped on the AMC map) in a fairly remote section of the Range. The route never faded into total obscurity the way some paths I've followed do, but eventually it dead-ended at the vernal pool pictured below. I was certain that very few other people had ever seen this particular sight, and I felt like I'd just arrived at the secretest vernal pool in the Holyoke Range.

So, if anyone actually reads this blog (does anyone actually read this blog?) and has some kind of a sense for the geography of the Holyoke Range in Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley, and wants to play along... any guesses as to where this is? Leave a comment with a guess that describes the location to within let's say a quarter mile or so of where it actually is. Just give as detailed a description as you can. Whoever gets it right wins the first amazing Northeast Adventures Mystery Prize (amazing NAMP).

vernal pool in the Holyoke Range
the secretest vernal pool in the Holyoke Range

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Scenic Fall Races

Here's a small sampling of scenic race photos I've taken around Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire over the past two weekends. The foliage has been spectacular the past week in particular! As always, full galleries for these events are up at Northeast Race Photo.

Covered Bridge Classic 10K in Conway, MA (10/6/13)

Hatfield Harvest 5K in Hatfield, MA (10/5/13)

Hogsback Half-Marathon in Colebrook, CT (9/28/13)

Covered Bridge 5K in Pepperell, MA (9/29/13)

Pinnacle Ultra Races in Newport, NH (10/6/13)