While popular for short day hikes and long-weekend backpacking trips, the Greenway is also an appealing trail to run in a day. The summit-to-summit layout makes it possible to see the entire route stretching out to the horizon and you can watch your destination on Mount Monadnock grow closer at every view point. There are several places to cache water and supplies along the route and the trail is well-marked and easy to follow.
While preparing one such water cache, I suffered a short delay.
After some tense negotiations, safe passage was granted.
I've wanted to run the Greenway from end to end in a day for a couple years now, but health, weather, and races always conspired to make me save it for another day. Well, that day finally came last Sunday when I departed from the ski lodge deck on the summit of Mount Sunapee at six in the morning. Unfortunately, it was rather foggy and damp, making for a wet trail to start and precluding any view toward Mount Monadnock.
The Sunapee ridge is one of my favorite sections of trail to run anywhere. It has a very secluded feel and the exposed ribs of bedrock are great fun to hop across.
A little less fun was how soggy everything was after several days of rain. It was useless to try keeping my feet dry and the underbrush quickly soaked me from head to toe.
At around mile 15 and 2:54:30, I popped out into bustling downtown Washington. This would make a great place to stop and grab some ice cream or other refreshments at the general store.
And ahead to Monadnock, a little closer but still distant.
At the base of Pitcher Mountain I crossed Route 125 at mile 25.1 with 4:51:28 and followed a series of woods roads and singletrack trail to my second water cache at the Route 9 crossing around mile 33.3 with 5:57:33 elapsed.
The center of the town of Nelson, NH.
From this section on, I had anticipated that the trail would be mostly road or easy trail and that I'd be able to bank some significant time but the temperatures had begun to pick up and I was slowing down with my usual noon-time bonk. Until I ran into a familiar face...
Let's just say I'm not nearly as brave when I'm on foot as when I'm in a 3,500 pound Subaru and I high tailed it out of there.
Getting closer to Route 101 (41.2 miles, 7:53:46), I crossed through the Eliza Adams Gorge, which was running a bit high. I wouldn't have wanted to fall off those bridges.
The homestretch up Monadnock was quite a bit harder than I anticipated. Suffering from muscle spasms in my calves, my pace slowed drastically and I watched my goal time of 9 hours slip away. Amidst the crowd at the top, I was just another worn out hiker (though I think I smelled the worst of anybody up there).
And... done in 9:18:43.
I found a secluded place just away from the maddening crowd to linger and nap for a while until my wife arrived. My whole day stretches away to the horizon.
And along those lines, I want to add a short note about long distance trail running. There seems to be a fairly prevalent opinion that someone like myself can't possible appreciate the true beauty of a particular area. Running is certainly a different flavor of the natural world that I very much enjoy; the sense of flow and feeling like a deer at home running through the forest doesn't come to me by any other means. But this does not mean that I have to sacrifice other slower, more patient forms of enjoying the woods. Speed and enjoyment in all its forms are not mutually exclusive. There will be (and are, and have been) days when I've spent hours just micro-contemplating a single spot, whether that be a secluded bit of woods or an open summit. Having different styles to choose from gives a broader experience that those who criticize might do well to experience for themselves.
GPS track for the day: http://www.movescount.com/moves/move14567309