Bragging rights is all good for trail runners, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to add a free latte and tall cold one for incentives.
That’s what’s going on with the Mount Adams Challenge, spearheaded by a couple of progressive northern New Hampshire eateries located in Gorham.
Here’s the deal: time yourself during a trail run up a designated route to the top of beefy Mount Adams. Snap that summit selfie by the sign and be sure to include the time on your watch.
If it’s two hours and 10 minutes or less, congratulations!
If you do it in more than two hours and 10 minutes, congratulations!
After all, it’s not a race but a way to foster fitness and fun in the state’s bucolic North Country.
Behind the Challenge is Doug Mayer, one of the cafe’s owners, along with Matt and Jenna Bowman.
“That (two hours, 10 minutes) seemed to be the pace that was attainable for folks who are in great shape but not super athletes,” said Mayer in an email. “We wanted a pace that was within reach of most fit hikers and runners. Some folks might have to set it as an end-of-summer goal, but more elite types will no doubt find themselves with a time of 1:40 or so, we think!”
A year-round backcountry zealot, Mayer is an avid trail runner not only traipsing around the White Mountains of home but also the Swiss Alps where he operates the trail running tour outfitter Run the Alps.
His renown not only reaches mountain trails, but also back roads and byways. Devotees of NPR’s Car Talk may recognize him as Doug “the old gray mare.” He’s the show’s online producer.
It’s his time in Switzerland that provided the notion for the Challenge modeled after the Leukerbads 70-minute dash, an unusual undertaking where trail enthusiasts running to the summit of the chic resort in under one hour and 10 minutes get a free tram ride down.
At 5,774 feet, Mount Adams is the second highest peak in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, sharing the same Presidential Range neighborhood as mounts Washington, Madison and Jefferson.
“There’s a great vibe up here, frankly,” he said. “The North Country is filled with lots of under-the-radar events and goings-on. This is another one in that vein. All of us at the White Mountain Cafe and SAalt love this area. We’re outside as much as possible, no matter the season: cycling, climbing, trail running, skiing, you name it. It’s our way of celebrating the region.”
For those looking do the Adams thing, the start is from the Appalachia trailhead on Route 2 in Randolph. The whole route can be found through the cafe’s Facebook page.
“The route was chosen as the best possible running route to the summit of Mount Adams, without being too circuitous,” Mayer said. “It’s also a bit off the beaten path, featuring some local favorite trails, such as Brookside and Scar Trails. These are beautiful routes that are less hiked.”
What type of person will do this?
“We’ll find out!,” he said. “We see this as something for adventurous types who want to try something a little different, and like the idea of a challenge, but may not be into competing in big events, or serious races. For the serious racers, this will be a fun diversion.”
The trails are maintained by the U.S. Forest Service, Appalachian Mountain Club and Randolph Mountain Club.
Says Mayer, “Here’s the most important thing: however it goes, have fun out there!”
Images courtesy of Joe Klementovich