Friday, November 27, 2009

Blackstrap Hell II - course description

The Blackstrap Hell II course is not flat. It runs up and down Blackstrap Hill 4X. Unfortunately, there is another 100 feet of the hill that we cannot use without running the race along Blacktrap road. The course is a climbers advantage. All the uphills (except the climb up the pinnacle) are wide open snomo trail. The downhills tend to be singletrack or less fast logging road.

The amount of mud on the course will depend on how wet that fall has been. The snomo trails have ATV ruts that can hold knee deep water. There are several creek crossings but the one that sent most runners in BHI to a spectacular faceplant has been bridged. One creek crossing is more of a drainage ditch. In addition to mud, there will be wet leaves, wet roots, loose wet rock, open ledge wet rock, and wet clay.

The tear drops on the map above are mile markers. On the dynamic google map, these markers can be clicked to get which mile it is. You can follow the direction of the race using these markers.

Mile 1 is flat for the first 3/4. The section (blazed orange) runs along the west branch of the Piscataqua River. The two creek crossings that were flooded during Hell I are now bridged. About 3/4 mile in, the orange trail climbs a short, very steep, very slippery hill. Hands will likely be required. At the top of this hill, the course turns right onto snomo trail and takes a long steady climb up.

A few hundred yards in to Mile 2, the course exits the woods and turns left onto a powerline trail and climbs a very steep pinnacle of ledge. Only about 5 feet of this requires hands. Above the pinnacle, the course turns left back into the woods and continues on snomo trail, crossing a couple of pretty creeks. The first part of mile 2 is steeply uphill, the second part very gradually drops part way then climbs back up blackstrap hill.

Shortly in to Mile 3, the course turns left onto singletrack. The trail will be very difficult to see but the blue blazes on the tree will keep you on course. This section of singletrack is very flat but slow. About 1/2 way into this segment, the course turns right onto the waterfall trail. The course, marked with a purple blaze, follows a little creek straight downhill. After a few hundred yards, the trail ends but the course continues straight downhil following a line or orange flags. The course crosses the creek at the bottom and turns left onto a gas pipeline trail. The segment is a roller coaster pair of low but steep and slippery hills. At the top of the last hill, the course turns left back into the woods onto snomo trail. Mile 3 is largely down the entire hill but you cannot really take advantage of this because of the narrow (or lack of) trail.

Mile 4 continues the snomo trail in the woods with a short downhill before crossing a creek and beginning the climb part way up Blackstrap Hill. The course u-turns onto an old logging road and returns back down hill.

In Mile 5 the loggin road re-joins the snomo trail and continues the down hill all the way to the river level. The last section of downhill to the river is very steep, slippery clay. The course follows the river for a hundred yards and then turns left for a long, gradual climb back uphill. This is likely the hardest climb because you'll be tired. And it's long. At the top of the climb, the course turns right and re-enters the powerline trail for a long, mostly downhill to the finish.

In Blackstrap Hell I, Mile 6 was a long, open-it-up downhill on the powerline with expansive views of the runners in front of you. I left this finish from 08 on the map but only a short section owill be used in BHII. In BHII, the course will exit the powerline trail to the left and enter the new singletrack in the Blackstrap Community Forest. This is about 1 mile of singletrack that snakes through ledge, crosses creeks, and winds along steep ravines. It is a net down hill but it does drop and climb a little.

Last 1/2 Mile. A little past the Mile 6, the singletrack turns right onto a logging road, which will provide a very fast finish, if you have anything left in the tank.

Monster Miles: about 6.5


  1. I assume you will use the same staggered start and the concept that he/she who comes closest to guessing their finish time wins?

  2. Looking forward to it! See y'all tomorrow.