When I learned that Chris and Sue had moved to Vermont, I knew it wouldn’t be long before they conned they locals into their own special brand of running entertainment. Yep, last year they hatched the Coyote Scramble and this year I figured it would be a great event around which to center our annual family trip East.
Chris and Sue now live in Danville, VT and have built a great relationship with the good people of the Kingdom Trails Association. The Northeast Kingdom is an area I never explored growing up and is unbelievably distinct from the Northern New Hampshire White Mountains, just a few miles East. The Kingdom is lush, green and idyllic Vermont. The Kingdom Trails system is an amazing network of meticulously maintained and marked mountain bike trails. Buaaaahhhhht, mountain biking trails aren’t exactly running/hiking trails…more on that later.
The festivities began in proper Coyote fashion with a pre-race bowling tournament coupled with give-aways of highly variable value. Maggie and I both bowled exceptionally well, though “well” in this context is defined precisely as mediocre – not so poor or spectacular as to attract attention and earn “reward.” Coyote rewards tend to result in excess baggage fees. The event had a choose-your-own-adventure feel, as runners chose between 40, 30 and 20-mile options, with 12, 10, and 8 hr respective time allowances. I chose the 40 and Maggie jumped into the 20.
With the race briefing at 5:30, it was a slightly earlier morning than we wanted it to be. Chris handed out maps and directions and declared, “I don’t really care if you use these, I just want you to be back here in no more than 12 hrs…OK, now go!” With no course markings, we followed a meticulous cue sheet…one with 2 full pages of single-spaced instructions for a 42 mile run.
Note that the above is just PAGE 1
So off we went, a mix of all shapes, sizes and personalities united in our objective of fun-having, the required mind-set for any and all Coyote events. Run as hard or as far as you want, but never take yourself too seriously.
Rather than spell out the blow-by-blow, I’ll offer just a few of the many highlights, lessons, and observations:
- Burke Mt is legit – a rugged climb of 2,000 with steep drops, challenging ledges, deep mud and gnarly roots. I puckered more than once on the descent, but Maggie claimed it was no trouble at all…
- Don’t wear those cool lookin’ anklet socks when you plan to encounter miles of calf deep mud…not smart.
- Vermont ain’t steep, but it’s never flat.
- Also, it’s called the Green Mountain State for good reason.
- The Kingdom Trails system is really cool. Endless trails in a really interesting and diverse ecosystem. Mountain bike trails, however, are not necessarily designed to get from one point to another…they meander. They also feature “features,” obstacles that are quite enjoyable on 2 wheels – berms, bumps, bridges, etc. The result of all of this, coupled with cue-sheet following, made for a bit of difficulty finding any sort of rhythm.
- Along those lines, I suspect the course was long and my getting lost twice made it even longer – I’d guess close to 50 miles. All in good fun.
- Maggie is a champ! She ran 20+ miles – with little training - to honor her 40th birthday and had a blast.
- And big thanks to our dear friend Katrina for making the trip over from Stowe and toeing the line with this odd bunch. It takes some courage to jump right in and we can’t thank you enough. Maggie had a great time catching up and sharing a special day on the trails.
- I had a good day…ran strong and steady and off the front all day. No one finished ahead of me, but as you’ll soon read, in Coyote-land that is far from enough to secure a win.
- Congrats to Maggie for her first trail race win. After careful tabulation, race management declared her the official winner of the 2014 Coyote Scramble. Management’s formula for results calculation was not disclosed, but we suspect it involves singificant credit for sharing a milestone birthday and graciously enduring endless rounds of singing to commemorate said birthday.
It was a great event and we had a fantastic time. Great thanks to Chris and Sue and all their helpers for another first class production. We’ll be back for sure…and will bring friends. For those of you who have not yet experienced a Coyote event, all of the above might sound anywhere from confusing to just plain weird. It is both, and you just need to check one out to get the gist. Just show up with the right attitude and you’ll fit right in. Coyote events occupy a special, unique and important place in ultrarunning.
Great thanks to my sponsors who continue to support me and my efforts with incredible generosity and the world’s best tools for adventure.
Gear: Patagonia Air Flow Sleeveless, Patagonia Strider Pro Shorts, Patagonia Ultralight Merino Anklet socks, Patagonia Duckbill hat (old school…circa 2001), Patagonia EVERLong shoes, UltrAspire ISOMeric Pocket hand-held water bottle.
Grub: Omnibars (Cranberry-Rosemary and Mango Chutney were to chosen flavors of the day and they performed superbly.)