Race: Bear Brook Trail Marathon

Runner: Keith Nadeau

Race Date: 7/24/2021

Location: Allenstown, NH

Results: 3:55:23 – 1st place

Strava Activity Link: https://strava.app.link/bQt9TrTlbib

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

I loved the scenery and park as this was my first time experiencing these woods. They made the course showcase most of what this park has to offer. Very friendly community!

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

The course markings were pretty hard to follow. Lots of runners got lost and confused including myself. The RD was very understanding of this and sent out an email the night after the race apologizing and ensuring they will fix that for next year’s event.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

For me the weirdest part was signing up for this 3 days before the race. I just found it and figured it would be a great training day for Eastern States 100 I’m signed up for in mid August. Glad I found it just before registration closed.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

Even though the course was flooded and impossible to not get wet I feel like I handled it well! I realized I would be soaked no matter what so early on I stopped caring so much about dancing around every puddle and sloshed through. I pushed the pace when I could but took it a little slower on the ascents to save some gas.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

Be observant on an unknown course. I had a few intersections where I stopped and looked hard for where to go. Some signs had been blown into the woods from the storm so I picked them up to try and figure out where it had been pointing. Still not fully sure if I did the whole course correctly but I think I did. I wanted to push through the confusing parts but realized I would probably get lost that way so glad I took the time to navigate.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

During this race I thought a lot about having fun and not allowing the stress to gain control of me. Some of the confusing parts I felt myself getting tense but found a way to calm down and try to enjoy the experience even though it wasn’t perfect. Usually there will be something or many things that go wrong and we can dwell on, but in the end it only make things harder to focus on that stuff.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Bring a map! I didn’t have a handheld map and that would have been a life saver on some parts. I signed up very late for the race and never got a pre race email that included the course map so not much I could do this time.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Very pretty course! They have it set up so you don’t see anything more than once and explore the whole park. Mostly wooded areas, no high vistas or big views but very majestic woods to run through and a few beautiful ponds you run along side of a few times.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

It is a tough course for sure, especially with the flooding this year. A little over 3k of gain which comes mostly in the beginning and end but the middle holds some good rollers to battle through. Some sections very technical with rocks/roots while other sections were dirt/gravel fire roads.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

It felt like a very well run event in some aspects but lacking in others. The RD was very thoughtful about the things that went wrong and it seems like he will surely make changes to fix them next year. The food and aid stations were incredible and all the volunteers were cheerful and helpful. Amazing community!

Competition – Is there a strong field?

This race has seen some decent competitive years but not so much this year. Lots of people out there pushing their limits but pretty big time gaps for the front finishers. I took it out pretty quick and was alone the whole race.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

Easy to get in using UltraSignup. Price seemed a little high but I think it was totally worth it. Especially the food was unreal at the finish!

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

Standard aid stations with water and some goodies, and the marathon had 6 stations which allowed me to run with just a .5l handheld and some gels in my pocket.

Weather and typical race conditions

Weather was very good for the day of, but the night before a bad storm rolled through. Temperatures were mild and partly cloudy with few bugs. The trails were just so muddy and wet though that it was sub par trail conditions.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?

Some runners had their packs on and I almost did but you can get away with just a handheld on this one for sure. The frequency of aid stations makes it totally doable.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Not many spots to spectate. It does run through the bear brook campground which is cool and would be the best spot to have friends see you roll through. The start/finish area was great and very good for spectators.

How’s the Swag?

Some good swag! I got a hat for me and my girlfriend. Also, my trophy is crazy! It’s a bear paw mounted to a live edge wood (not a real bear paw though!) Very cool!

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

I would give this race an 8/10. If they can fix the markings I can’t think of much I would want changed. Such a fun and beautiful course mixed with a friendly local community! So good!