Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I love snowmobiles (winter trail running)

I've never owned a snowmobile and probably never will. I don't have anything against them but it's just not something that really interests me. What does interest me about the are the trails the snowmobile clubs and the state maintain in the Mt. Washington Valley.

Trail Running for me used to be something I did until the trails were all snow covered. Then I would switch over to XC skiing and road running for our 6 long months of winter. A few years ago I discovered the wonders of snowmobile trails in the winter.

If you're a resident of the Mt. Washington Valley, you are lucky to have access to a trail network in the winter that makes the summer trail network seem small in comparison. In the winter you can run on trails that aren't even accessible in the summer, whether they be through a swamp or on land you normally wouldn't be able to go on in the summer. What I'm talking about is running on the miles and miles of snowmobile trails in this area.

Running on snowmobile trails, especially in a winter like this, is similar to regular trail running- the footing is often better than in the summer and you save the pounding of being out on the roads. If the weather warms up, the trails can be a little soft in spots, so you have to run based on level of effort, rather than a specific per mile pace (much like regular mountain and trail running in the summer). If conditions are a little icy, I will use my trusty YakTrax, available at EMS for $30, they'll give you the extra traction you might need in icy conditions. There are also some fancier shoe options from companies like Inov-8 who offer a trail shoe with an aggressive tread and spikes in the sole for additional traction - their Mudclaw 340 shoe.

So, what's a good place to run on the snowmobile trails? One of my favorite places is starting right behind Walmart to the left of the store around back. You can join up with the Corridor 19 trail and head North over past the Redstone Quarry or follow it South along Pudding Pond towards the Mineral Site off of Passaconaway Road. The best time of day to go out is earlier in the day (especially on the weekends) as there tends to be less snowmobile traffic. Keep your ears and eyes peeled anytime you are on the trail though- the people on snow machines might not be expecting to see a runner out there.

And try and remember, these are snowmobile trails, so give the people on their machines a wide berth on the trails to let them pass you. Their trail fees and groomers are what pay for the trails you get to run on. If you get inspired, make a contribution to your local snowmobile club too.


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