Sunday, November 29, 2009

Feel Good Farm Trail Race

Saturday was race #61 on the calendar year and it took me back up to Feelgood Farm in Lyndeborough, NH...this time without snow.  I ran up here this past winter at the Feel Good Farm Snowshoe race put on by 3CRaceProductions and it turned out to be a rather intimate affair, with only 12 folks in attendance.  This time, for the trail version, that number tripled, to 26 brave souls.

The Feel Good Farm '9k' Trail Race (results) was not for the faint of heart.  This race is brutally technical.  The only reason I won't call it the toughest trail race I've run personally, is because of how short it is.  If it was say as long as Savoy, I'd say it would be uncontested in that category...but because it is two loops of about 4k each, it doesn't seem quite as bad.  There is absolutely no place to open up here except for a small stretch right before the middle/end area, where you actually run on grass and flat ground for about 200 meters.  Other than that, it is all rocks and mud and downed trees and uneven/treacherous ground.  Some of the downhills were even bad enough that you just had to slow to a near walk or jump-down to get past.  It is so much easier to run this race when the trails are full of snow, you have no idea.  When I ran this race this past winter in the snowshoe version (which is not quite the same course), I never thought about how rugged the trail could actually be under all that snow.  Now I know.   The trail starts in the open field near Johnson Corner Rd. and heads straight up into ridiculously messy trails that at some points, resemble a possible attempt at putting in a road 200 years ago.  There is a lot of good climb on this course and it starts pretty much immediately, with a climb up to the top of Moose Mtn.  Then you rock back down the backside, along the perimeter of the property (540 total acres of land at Feel Good Farm + access to another 300 or so adjacent....55 miles of trails).  Once down the bottom, you zigzag around and eventually back up to the top of the mountain again, with a pretty tough and rocky/slick climb that is the main climb of the snowshoe race.  Once down the bottom, you make your way back to the start/finish area and circle around for another go (two loops).

The weather was OK temperature-wise, but the wind was in full effect (as anyone in the N.E. area knows).  Only 26 people made their way to the race, but apparently another 5 had pre-registered and not shown up.  Scanning the scene before the race, there was one guy there I thought might give me a run, and it turned out to be Brandon Baker, who came in 2nd overall.  Right before the race, he wished me good luck and I mentioned that it was going to come down to 'whoever care's least about wrecking themselves'.  Mike Amarello gave the signal and we were off.   Brandon actually took it out pretty hard at the opening and went by me at the first bridge (if you can technically call it a bridge) about 100 meters in.  I actually veered to the left and wasn't paying attention and he shouted quickly to let me know I was going the wrong way...after that, there was the first climb, in which I took the lead and that was pretty much the way it went.  At the top of the first long ascent, I turned to look and was alone.  I ran cautious and comfortable the rest of the way, not wanting to hurt myself and also being very aware that I didn't need to hammer this one.  I came through the first loop in 14:36 and hit the second lap with nobody in sight.  The course was very well marked and I was pleased to have gotten through the first lap unscathed.  As I hit the climbs on the second loop, I really started to feel like I was out of shape and thankful that the likes of a Nephew or a Hammett were not in attendance.  I hit the second of the two climbs to the top of Moose Mtn. and slowed down to a speed hike in a few spots and started to think about how much I miss mountain and snowshoe racing (pretty sick I know).  There is where I passed one of I think three runners that I lapped overall.  I passed more during the snowshoe version of this race, but that is about the same spot where I picked up the first runner in both races.  She gave me some words of encouragement and I, the same and I kept plugging away.  On the way down, I got another lady who was being cautious on the downhill, and then one more gentleman right near the finish.  I came through in 29:51 (15:14 second lap).  The course is definitely much shorter than 9k, and closer to probably 8k... I believe Mike recalculated at 8.2k...even that might be a stretch ;)...Regardless, it is a fun and challenging course for sure.

Top 10 Overall

Jim Johnson      
Salem NH       
Brandon Baker    
Ashburnham MA  
Kurt Berna       
Lyndeborough NH
Curt Fischer     
Merrimack NH   
Shad Hansen      
Milford NH     
Curtis Hansen    
Milford NH     
Jennifer Shultis 
Sharon NH      
Quentin Turnbull 
Concord NH     
Nate Hallowell   
Bath ME        
Justin Riddle    
Mount Joy PA  

26 Total Finishers.

I felt pretty strong although struggled on some of the hills a bit.  I had a blast and really enjoyed the technical aspect of the trails (something drastically different from Lithia a few weeks ago, but both races were a lot of fun). Brandon finished up in 2nd place and I cooled down with him afterwards and got to chat.  He's mainly a bike racer who got into mountain biking, cyclocross, and some other types of racing.  He indicated that he was going to do the mountain series this coming summer.

As far as my plans...I am now focusing on increasing my mileage, getting out of this post-marathon funk (that I think we are kind of all in right now) and get some of that sharpness back.  That's the only way I can describe it.  I just feel flat right now and am getting very excited about snowshoe season.  I have been keeping my eye on the weather forecast for Woodford, VT and it looks like it could be ok.  With less than a month to go now until the I Love Woodford race, mother nature has to get a move-on.   This coming week is Mill Cities and my debut in a GSR singlet.  Should be a fun time as always...


  1. Looks like you had fun. Can you say "cherry pick"....

  2. Jim, sounds like a cool race. How the heck did I not know about this one?!

  3. Dan, low key event but a very technical run for sure... the trails are very treacherous... probably right up your alley! :)

    There was an XC race here in Salem, NH yesterday up over Scottish Highlands...I wish I knew about it... would have been cool to race here in my hometown...looks like I'll have to pencil it in for next year...

  4. Race looks pretty cool from the pics. Congrats on the win. 61 races on the'll have to give us an expense report at the end of the year.

    On another note, thanks for putting my blog on your list.

  5. Hey Kev... well, with some minute moneys won here and there from various cherrypicking, and some GP money from CMS + Polar money from photos + races that were paid for (team events), I can't be too much deeper into race fees than most people out there to be honest. Maybe even less than some others for sure. Plus, my GSSS races this coming season are all paid for as part of the overall prize from last season :)... So I'm already looking at some light costs for early in the year... but then again, since it's the only thing I do, I still consider it a fairly cheap lifestyle/hobby/interest. It could be worse...I could be sitting on the couch getting huge and spending 50+ bucks on video games or something similar every week... so 20 bucks a week ain't that bad in the long run :).

  6. Defininetely cheaper than being a crack addict!

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  8. You won the race by EIGHT minutes! Clearly, you were out of their league. Congrats!

  9. well, it was a very technical and slow contrary to only being about 5 miles, it was a very long 5 miles for sure...

  10. Feel Good Farm?? Odd name for a Farm I am scared to think what kind of farm it was! Jim What leg do you have for Mill Cities? I love that race, I am doing leg 1 for NMC.

  11. Dave, I'm also running the first leg...the only one I like because it feels like a real race... see you there!!