July 05, 2009

Loon Mountain Race 2009

"Cranmore or Loon, which do you prefer?"
Paul Kirsch, Race Director (for both), asked upon finishing.
With intoxicating views from all directions and thinner air—I was drunk on hills. Scott Mason captured a variety of expressions, including my hill-glazed gaze, along the Upper Walking Boss, which brags a 30% plus grade for .6+ of a mile. I heart Loon.

Start of Loon, 5th race in the Mt. Circuit
After rolling the two mountains around, I decided Crannmore & Loon are different beasts from the same family. Each bears its own ferocious and forgiving sections. I appreciate both for their differences and recognize that one course might suit a runner better than the other depending on his/her pleasures and strengths.
Cranmore serves screamin' down hills, a repeated loop (please sir, can I have some more?) and the company of world-class mountain runners. It's also exciting because less-competitive runners enjoy the company of front-runners. Cranmore gets another gold star for its variety of runnable surfaces: grass, slick rock, wet moss, mud, gritty pebbled double-track, wet mushy ferns and dry grass. Cost: the legs pay for the downhills.

Loon steeps Mountain Goats inclined to running uphill. Yet, it's not only uphill so downhell fanatics can scratch that itch on descents (Haulback, Sunset) and a few flattish passages that traverse the mountain between mile 0 to 1.5 and miles 2 to 3. The surfaces at Loon are wide ski trails and long grass with a dash of rock after U.W.B. Like Cranmore, the views at Loon are breathtaking but may be appreciated even more during the gondola ride down.
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No watch. No pressure. No problem. My two goals for the day were to keep a constant upward/forward motion and enjoy the journey with perfect weather. (Inclement weather for me is scorching temps & high humidity.) Despite my ankle hurting on my warm up jog, I felt fantastic during and after Loon. I also ate two treats and hydrated throughout the race with Nuun potion in my hand held. When we ran through wild berries I looked for snacking bears.

2009 Loon Mountain Race Results.

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Cooler weather, a positive attitude, and nutrition all played a part in making Loon one of my favorite runs of the circuit. Unconcerned with time or distance, I felt present in every moment and step. Tim, the Barefoot Runner, and I shared trail talk along the U. Bear Claw and time passed quickly and we were at the summit water stop. In a mountain zone, I thought we had another mile to enjoy before passing through the finishing area for a meeting with the Boss! (No, not Springsteen. I wasn't that Loony.) As I paid homage to the Upper Walking Boss I overheard folks gasp and grumble. Hoping to cast positive energy their way, I said, "Wow, that's so beautiful. Look at us up there soon." I appreciated each step and soon was coasting along Sunset.

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After Cranmore, my quads were not communicating with the rest of my body until about Wednesday. Whereas everything felt great right after finishing Loon. Soaking in the Pemi helped!

Also at Cranmore I tweaked my ankle on the second descent and RICE'd for the week. Aiming to complete the circuit uninjured, I took preventative measures at Loon and tested the Active Ankle T2 brace. It's a light-weight supportive device that allows for ankle movement while inhibiting dramatic side to side twists. The T2 was so comfortable I forgot I was wearing it.

A big thank you to Abbas who cheered us on,
took photos and chauffeured Susanna and me!


Dan said...

From the gaze on your face I'd say you ate some wild mushrooms or something. Very good report. I like your comparison of the two courses. Not sure if I’m suited for either! The brace looks uncomfortable but if you didn’t notice you were wearing it, I’ll have to check it out for my gimpy ankle.

Trail Pixie Trespas said...

I wonder it was the berries I ate? The Active Ankle would be even more comfortable with the light-weight foam wrap used before taping. The AA Trainer is neoprene on the inside (versus the light foam in the T2). You can check it out next time I see you and you bring out your gimp.

michael menard said...

You're making me regret that I didn't go to Loon. I'll see you at Ascutney!

Unknown said...

You are definitely one of the few to have a big smile on your face on Upper Walking Boss.

After having done Cranmore and Loon for the first time this year, I agree with you... Loon!

Scotty "PHAT" Graham said...

Nice ankle brace. I know they work, I had to wear one back in the 80's for about 4 months after a basketball injury that would have stopped my running if it weren't for this brace. It was either wear the brace or make one out of duct tape and branches.