It is below zero. It is 7:30 in the morning. I have had half a cup of coffee and a portion of a danish for breakfast and I’m about to run a 10k on a mountain. I’m ecstatic! At Riverside Farm Peter Board and and Andy Weinberg are talking loudly at everyone and no one. Some people look anxious. Other people look happy. A few people however are positively beaming. I’m one of them. Why am I so excited? Because there is absolutely no where else I want to be.
Whenever I get to Pittsfield I feel very at ease. Vermont itself can have that effect, but there is something about Pittsfield specifically for me. There is a very real sense of home.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
~Henry David Thoreau.
Living. That is what we come here to do. To be cold on our skin and warm within our heart. Weather can bring the cold but friendships they are what warms the heart. That’s why I am so happy when I get to one of these shindigs in the woods. Good people.
The race was in typical Peaks fashion or at least my experience of them. Huddle everyone up. Say “Go” and follow along like a heard of turtles. The course went like you would expect…straight up. We looked rather like gold miners in the Klondike going over Chilkoot pass.
And thats just how it is at a Peaks race. The initial accent followed much of the same trail that Summer Death Racers followed and built in 2012. I’m not going to lie I had a few flashbacks. We made our way over ever steepening terrain till at last we summited Joe’s mountain and saw Shrek’s cabin. The familiar faces of Mark Ford and Eric Matta were welcome. The views were breath taking. The decent lead us into the labyrinth, that might have been during the accent but who cares. From there more woods. More ups more downs. The weather being so blasted cold made the snow in the trail like sugar. It became down right slippery at times causing snowshoes to act like skis. But a clear sky, beautiful day and great company can help you overcome any obstacle. I ran with a small group of Spahtens, my wife, my boss and her husband and the unsinkable Hannah Hawley. I can’t really tell you any more about the race that would be of any great value other than those small observations. Running in snowshoes is a challenge. Running on Vermont trails is a challenge. Doing anything below zero is stupid. But…
“Then it turned and trotted up the trail in the direction of the camp it knew, where were the other food providers and fire providers.”
The dog in London’s story is a great example of why I do these things. Because of the camp. I don’t always receive actual fire or food but I certainly do metaphorically. And afterwards I can carry it in my heart for months. Inspiration, motivation. You can’t go to a Peaks race and leave unchanged. You can’t leave a Peaks race without changing someone else. If I have raced with you or trained with you, you have been part of the moments that define my life. If you have met me after one of these things you also know I don’t shake hands; I hug. I’m a hugger. I also really don’t care if you aren’t, you’re getting one. If you’re Don Devaney you might get a blindside hug. If you’re Keith Glass you might get tackle-hugged in the middle of your race. If you are Jane Coffey you might get hugged twice. If you are a New England Spahten it’s coming you have been warned.