When I told people that I was going to run the Loon Mountain Race (LMR), the immediate assumption was that it was a trail race around Loon Mountain. When I told them it was a trail race up Loon Mountain, this immediately changed the tone and nature of the conversation. The typical response was along the lines of “better you than me.”
Quite honestly, the LMR was not on my original list of races for the year. However, it did enter my radar (ever so briefly) earlier in the year when I first heard about the race. But then I set any thoughts of running it aside and went back to my original race plans.
As the date of race approached, however, LMR resurfaced. I had some friends who would be running, and I decided a couple weeks prior to the race to join in. Based on this timeline, it’s easy to see that I had not been actively training for a mountain race. Even though I have been increasing my mileage and am training for a fall marathon, a mountain race is a completely different beast. I hadn’t even been running very big hills (maybe 300-400 feet of elevation gain on an average run). And I somehow convinced my wife to join me too!
The race was held at the Loon Mountain Resort (a ski resort in northern New Hampshire) in Lincoln, NH. After getting up early and driving a little less than two hours to Lincoln, we picked up our bibs and settled in on the banks of the Pemigewaset River before the 9:00 start time.
Around 8:45, we all gathered around the start line and tried to hear the pre-race announcements (which were unintelligible for the most part from where we were standing). The race started, and we were on our way.
The course starts off with some winding trails with a small amount of incline and quickly changes into a climb, much of it runnable (if you have trained for it). Since my wife and I were in it just to have fun for the day, we had to keep reminding ourselves to look around and enjoy the views (whether it was the beautiful vistas or the wildflowers or the wild strawberries along the course).
There were a few points when we thought that the course couldn’t get steeper (even though we knew it would). But then there was just enough leveling off or downhill to take our minds off of it. That is until we finally hit the Upper Walking Boss trail which was saved for the very end of the race. Upper Walking Boss is a double black diamond ski trail with an average 40% grade over the course of approximately one kilometer (0.62 miles). Upper Walking Boss was a challenge to even walk up, but we did it!
After an hour and thirty-eight minutes on the trail, we finally crossed the finish line … approximately 5.5 miles and 2,700 feet later. There were some great runners who had already finished the race hanging out at the finish line to cheer on the rest of the finishers, and it was a great welcome!
After rehydrating and hanging out at the summit for a little while, we got into the gondola and rode down to the base. We stayed around for the awards ceremony and the raffle. I had been told that there is always a great raffle. There were quite a few prizes given away, including free pairs of Scott running shoes, supplement powders and maple syrup. And I ended up winning a pair of Scott running shoes (which I will review once I spend some time running in them)!
Overall, acidotic Racing did a great job with race. Everything went smoothly, and there was a great group of runners. If you haven’t run any trail races or spent any time with the trail running community, I highly recommend that you do so as soon as possible.
After the mental fatigue of running trails up Loon Mountain wore off, I realized how fun mountain races can be. I even signed up for the Cranmore Hill Climb (race review to follow) on July 21.