Pemi-Challenge: Disappointed

Saturday, June 23, 2007 
2007 Pemi-Challenge 
32 Miles 
9,250′ Elevation Gain 
16 Determined Souls 

1. Jen Shultis 9:58
2. Dave Drach 9:58
3. Sherpa John Lacroix 10:14
4. Ryan Prentiss 10:22
5. Bob Mathes 10:58
6. Ben Mathes 10:58
7. Craig 11:32
8. Peter Kelly 12:20
9. Catherine Graciano 12:20
10. Youngblood 13:45 (added W.Bond)
11. Unforzencaveman 13:45 (added W.Bond)
12. Leaf ????
13. RockGoddess ????
*16 Starters


New Hampshire’s claim to fame is that its home to the world worst weather. By 9am, everyone participating in the Pemi-Challenge was not about to argue that fact. 4 of us started a few hours earlier than the planned 6:30am start, and one runner (Albee) headed out going Counter Clockwise on the loop. The rest of us headed out across the Pemi-Bridge and onto the old logging bed.. headed on an adventure of extremes.

Ryan and I stuck together for most of the day and as we meandered up the Osseo Trail trouble was all ready starting for me. 2 Weeks ago I was sporting the worst blisters of my ife after the Pittsfield Peaks Ultra Challenge.. and halfway up Flume Mountain, I was stopping to tighten my shoes in the hopes that the rubbing would stop. I re-applied blister baind aids but to no avail… blisters had reformed and any hopes of a “fast” day were now gone.

As we popped out onto the summit fo Flume, the wwind whipped from the west. It was chilly and completely socked in… but theres nothing like having hiked to over 4,000′ above sea level and being IN the clouds. We were positive saying we’d probably be above them once we hit Lafayette. As we continued on along the ridge we ran into Leaf, RockGoddess and another hiker named Heidi. I thank leaf for her fundraising for the ADA through the challenge and we headed on down the trail.

Not far ahead Tim Roy, who ran the loop in 8:36 in ’06, was running toward us. “Where ya goin Tim!?” Tim had made it to the Lincoln/Lafayette col in good time but he mentioned the winds REALLY whipping through there to the point that he decided to call it a day. NOT good news but we wished him well on his travels. We traversed the summit of Liberty and hurriedly scampered back into the trees to get out fo the wind. As we ran along the ridge, the sun tried to come out and it sounded as if the wind was dying down… until just before we hit treeline.

I stopped and put on my rain jacket and pants.. Ryan didn’t have any but said he was fine. We creeped to the edge of the trees and looked out into the grey abbyss.. we could barely see the next cairn.. and the wind.. was howling. We headed out into the elements and started running. The ridge was being ravaged by a 60mph sustained wind from the west with higher gusts pushing hurricaine force. As we ran, an ocassional gust would blow from behind and make running much easier if only briefly.

We did our best to stay together.. each time we came to a huge boulder, we’d stop to talk, catch our breath and check on each other. This.. was survival. I ran at an angle ” \ ” for much of the next 3 or 4 miles. Ryan tried to rock hop at one point and was blown to the side of the trail. Word I recieved later from MtnPa (aid) was that while sitting atop Lafayette, he witnessed 2 runners get blown completely off the trail and onto the bottoms and as one got up he was blown over again. Worst weather in the world for sure.. and a dangerous place. We carried on..

On the north side of Lafayette was the worst, we creeped alone hugging rocks, the 38 degree temp and a windchill of 15 degrees cause our hands to swell and be worthless. We were glad to descend into the trees to finally pick our way across the Garfield Ridge. Garfield Ridge is a place many consider to be the worst trail in the whites, and many don;t look forward to it. Today, we talked and sang our way across.. just happy to be out of the elements.

Peter Kelly caught Ryan and I and we all stuck together. Around the Gale River Trail Junction we ran into Steve and Charlers who had started much earlier in the morning and were doing the loop Counter Clockwise. They were in great spirits, cracking priceless jokes. They were re-freshing. As we reached over crowded Galehead Hut, we saw Jen Shultis of the EMS Adventure Racing Team (Ranke #3 in the world??), and Dave Drach head out and up South Twin. We headed inside to meet up with Sarah who had our aid.

We sat and refilled our fluids, ate lunch and in general refueld. As we sat there we saw the others behind hus start to trickle in. World on the street that 2 others had bailed, Karl Hasse and Albee. Al went CCW, hit West Bond and Galehead 3 and a half hours into his run.. and bailed into the pemi to bag Owls Head.. so like him. Not before long I knew it was time to move.. I was starting to shiver and the end was calling us. Ryan and I headed out.

As we made our way up South Twin, We saw Mohamed Ellozy leading a group down toward the hut, “Not a very runable section is it?” Said Mohamed. Nope! We also ran into Nancy and Charlie Foote, an amazing couple from Glencliff, NH who were also enjoying the blustery day in the mountains. We climbed 1,200′ in eight-tenths of a mile to the top. From here.. I was feeling great and decided to pour it on as best I could.

I unloaded as I headed down the Twinway, we I broke out of the trees on Guyot, I finally stopped to snap some photo’s of the pemi. Franconia Ridge was still socked in but the views were amazing. I smiled… this is home. I ran hard up to the Summit of Bond. Snapped some more photos and spotted the leaders over on Bondcliff heading out of the Col towards the summit.. I was a half hour behind them and wanted to catch em bad.

Cory Delevalle had popped out on the summit of Bond. He started at 11:30am and headed up to head us off.. We talked briefly until Ryan came in behind me.. I told them both I was off on a mission as I headed towards Bondcliff. As I crested Bondcliff.. I stopped to take it all in and yelled BUFFALO!!! I looked at my watch 8 Hours and 33 Minutes In. I was very disappointed. I knew I wasn’t going to break 9 hours.. and breaking 10 would be tough… looks like I wouldn’t be raising anymore $$ for the ADA that way… but I was going to try like hell to finish as close to the leaders as I could. I ducked into the trees and took the rain gear off finally. Back in shorts and a short sleeved shirt.. I took off down the Bondcliff trail all systems go.

About 2 miles down I tripped on water bar.. As I fell I broke my Garmin GPS Wristwatch and landed on my handbottle. As I landed, the top of my handbottle blew off and its contents (RED BULL) blasted onto my face and into my eyes. My eyes stung like I’ve never felt before and I rubbed them with muddy hands. I stood up and shuffled to the stream crossing I could hear.. here I washed my face, collected myself and continued running full steam. Not long after… I tripped again, this time on a stump.. now I’m getting angry. Luckily.. this would be it for the day.

I came out on the Wilderness Trail in one piece and continued to try to catch the leaders. I ran as hard as I could, stopped twice to walk before meeting Craig. Craig looked great and was walked briskly while eating. He asked me how I was and I told him.. disappointed that I won’t be raising any funds off of my time.. and its unlikely that I’ll PR.. but conceeded that in the conditions we experienced.. finishing was great.

I ran along the Wilderness Trail and across the Pemi-Bridge. I stopped my watch and hung my head at a disappointing 10:14. Maybe later in the year or in 2008.. I’ll get that time down and try for that unbelievable pemi-Record. I was happy to have finished only 16 minutes behind Jen and Dave.. two GREAT people. On to Vermont! I’m READY!

The Blister on my left heel popped during the run. After looking at it.. I’m down to skin layer #4 and in some serious discomfort.. hopefully they heal in time for Vermont.. Good times

Special thanks to Sarah and George for providing Support at Galehead Hut. MtnPa for braving the 60MPH winds on Lafayette to lend support as well. Unbelievable and greatly appreciated. A huge thanks to everyone who showed up and took on the challenge. Many of us are running the VT100 and this was our last painful training run before we taper.. good luck to all!