Friday, August 5, 2016

Race Report: Kennebec Mountain Run

Dear Friends, Let me tell you about the Kennebec Mountain Run... This race was a doozy! I'll be the first to admit that I was not adequately prepared, but I think it would have been pretty tough even if I had done more trail running this summer.

I have done my share of trail running over the years, especially in 2010-2012 when I trained for and ran four trail half marathons and a six-day, 120-mile trail race. I think this race was as difficult as any single day of running back then. The altitude (9000-12000 feet) and elevation gain (+3000 feet in 7 miles) are challenging enough, but for me the real difficulty was the trail condition.

This race is primarily on very loose rock jeep roads, which is my least favorite running surface of all time. The above photo is actually one of the nicer stretches of trail. All the way up the hill I was thinking, "I can't wait to get to the single track!" But when we finally reached the mile-ish of single track up and down the very top of the mountain it was a narrow path of scree cut into an otherwise very steep hill. And I now revise my earlier statement to be that scree is my least favorite running surface of all time.

There are so many gorgeous trails in this vicinity that I think would have been more pleasant to race on that I'm surprised anyone wants to do this race year after year. I guess people don't do it because it's pleasant. The point is that it's a doozy. I'm just not in the right frame of mind for serious adventure racing right now.

My official finish time is 3:53:34. That is 15:34 minutes per mile pace, which isn't so bad for a trail race. I usually estimate 15 minutes per mile for trail running to account for elevation and technical terrain. The mile of single track scree took almost 30 minutes to navigate!

The Bright Side:

1) I managed to keep a fairly decent 11 minute per mile pace for the last 5-6 miles once we were back on the jeep road down the hill despite being completely exhausted.

2) The scenery and wildflowers were quite lovely.

3) My parents both did the race with me. It was nice having someone to carpool and commiserate with! They are both right behind me in the first photo, although my dad was ahead of me most of the race otherwise. My mom and I were accidentally twinsies in the same hat and pink shirts.

4) I really like the t-shirt. It is not a tech shirt, but I have more than enough tech shirts. It's just a nice soft comfy t-shirt, albeit in a slightly wonky bright green color.


1) I don't really care for up-and-down-the-mountain style races. I can do hills, but I'd rather the uphill be interspersed with the downhill throughout the entire race rather than each one all at once.

2) If contemplating future trail races... Confirm the trail conditions ahead of time.

3) I'm pretty sure I've put my kinda-sorta-maybe-someday dreams of an ultramarathon behind me. At least in the near future. I just don't have the necessary time/energy/guts right now.

And that's all I have to say about that. What's the hardest race you've ever done?


  1. HUGE congratulations and way to push through!!! What an amazing accomplishment! Trail races are NO JOKE. I've only done one very mildly technical trail race in my entire life, and I felt like I was moving through quick sand. Altitude gains are serious business, too. I've experienced some altitude sickness in the past just while driving a car up a mountain, so I can certainly appreciate the extreme difficulty of running a course like this. It is very, very cool that your parents were there to share the experience with you! I only wish my parents could participate in such a challenging athletic adventure!

    1. Thank you Emily! It was really tough. Like I said I've done plenty of trail running but this was above and beyond what I'm used to! I live at 7,000 feet so I think I'm used to high altitude but I forget how much MORE difficult it is above 9,000 feet. I do love that my parents are also runners - We've done many races together over the years.

  2. Wow, this certainly does look like a doozy of a course. It's nice that your parents did it with you. How many miles was it?

    1. Ha, I can't believe I forgot to mention how long the race was - 15 miles! Which is the farthest I've run in many years. (Usually a half marathon is my limit).

  3. Oh wow, what a race! This is nothing like the little trail race I just posted about haha! Good for you for getting out there and doing it though! I'm assuming the distance was half a marathon? I can't even imagine running on scree and up and down hills for almost 4 hours! That's awesome that your folks did it with you though!

    1. It was so intense!!! I was not prepared. I thought I would just take it easy and hike when necessary (which was almost the whole way up) but even that was super difficult. It was 15 miles - Can't believe I forgot to mention that key detail!


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