This was the second race this year that I had gotten into from the lottery system, so I knew that even though it was 2 weeks post-50 miler that I HAD to do it. I had heard that some say that this race was actually more challenging than 50 miles and I could definitely see that if you were racing both. I decided that it wasn’t best for my body to run this race since I was still recuperating from my ultra, so my goal was just to finish and have fun. Since we live so close to the race (less than an hour), we picked up my bib on Friday.
I also got to check out the start area and while it was kinda rainy there, it gave me all the chills! I LOVE to race!
We went to Flatbreads for dinner the night before the race and if you’re ever in the North Conway/ Mt. Washington area- I can’t rave about them enough. SO good. I think I’ve had almost every flavor of their pizza and not one has disappointed me yet.
Because this is such a unique race in that if you want a spectator at the end of it, you need to coordinate a ride to meet you at the top (they limit the number of vehicles that can go up there, so each vehicle that goes up needs to be responsible for taking at least 2 runners on the way down). Alex had offered to drive up and we coordinated to take 2 runners down (and myself). Because Alex wanted to have the car up there early (spoiler: try to be the last vehicle up to be the first vehicle to go back down after the race ends), we arrived to the start area at 6:30a before the 9a start so there was some time to kill. I met the fellow runners that we would be giving a ride back down, caught some zzz’s, and made sure to pack a bunch of warm clothes as it was predicted to be 20* up at the summit with the wind chill.
The race began with an actual CANNON rather than a horn and then we were off! The first 1/2 mile had a slight downhill (the only downhill) and then immediately began climbing. I knew that hiking was going to be my best option, so I chose to do that for the majority of race (and ran when the incline leveled out a bit). It was challenging and honestly driving back down, I still kept thinking I can’t believe that I made it up this thing with my own two legs. Runner amnesia anyone?
The views going up the auto road were spectacular and just awe-inspiring. The photos do NOT do it justice. I remember thinking that I really wanted to come in under 2 hours, but also knew with hiking the majority of it that that would be challenging. There were 3 water stops along the way and honestly, I was expending much less energy and passing some of those who kept insisting to run up the thing.
The last 1/4 mile was ROUGH with that 22% incline. I love to sprint the last bit of a race, but there was NO way that was happening in this one. I finished in 1:58 and am SO happy to have completed it. I loved the atmosphere of the race, the general cheering-nature of other runners around me, the uniqueness of it, the shirts that we got (SO gorgeous), and the medal. I definitely would love to be that person that can say they’ve ran it for 30+ years in a row.
Can we talk about this medal for a 7.6 mile run? Way prettier than some half marathons that I’ve done…
Also, running up the highest peak in the east makes you REALLY hungry afterwards. Good thing they have the Hart’s Turkey Farm down at the base for your post-run lunch ticket.
I will be back for this race over and over again. It was amazing and I can’t speak highly enough for it!