Nearly 70 people from all around New England headed for the hills in the Inaugural Squam Ridge Race early last Sunday morning that took them along 12.2 miles of mountain trails in Holderness. The event raised money to help maintain the Squam Lakes Association's 50 miles of hiking trails. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
September 25, 2013HOLDERNESS — As a morning mist began to rise above the top of the Squam Range in Holderness early last Sunday, nearly 70 people prepared themselves to take part in the first annual Squam Ridge Race, which took them to the summits of Mt. Percival, Mt. Webster, Mt. Morgan and Mt. Livermore.
The event was a fundraiser for maintenance expenses for the 50 miles of trails owned by the Squam Lakes Association.
SLA President Peter Webster said the organization has 26 trails in all, and one trail alone on Rattlesnake Mountain sees literally thousands of hikers each year, which creates a lot of wear and tear on the trails.
"It takes just about $40,000 a year to keep up with the trails and, with all the traffic it sees, Rattlesnake always requires the most attention. It's by far the most popular trail," he said. "Money raised in the race today will help a lot."
Maintenance along the system includes maintaining water bars to prevent erosion problems, clearing brush and downed trees, signage and upkeep in the parking areas.
The inaugural race saw 55 people from all around New England registered in advance and SLA staff members were pleased to see nearly 20 more sign up on race day for the challenging competition.
"The trail we set is 12.2 miles in distance with 3,000 feet of elevation gain along the way," said SLA's Volunteer and Communications Director, Jennifer Mattrick.
Those figures did not daunt the men, women and teens who warmed their muscles up, readied a pack for the journey and got ready to race the distance though. At the sound of the horn, they all headed along the outskirts of Burleigh Farm, up a tree lined lane and on to the trail head where they began to climb the ridges that loomed above. While many set off at a good steady run, others preferred to set a slower pace for their day as they just enjoyed the challenge of the hike.
Preparations for event were just as rigorous as the race itself. SLA was grateful for the assistance they received from the students of nearby Holderness School who, on Saturday, hiked up the ridges and set up supplies at eight rest stations along the trail.
"They even carried up food and bottled water. It was a lot of hard work, and we really appreciated their help," said Mattrick.
Other help was received from SLA volunteers who monitored the trails during the race. They helped keep everyone on course at trail junctions, handed out water and were available for assistance in the event anyone was injured along the way.
Mattrick said 40 sponsors also pitched in to help make the day a success, supplying food, drinks, and other items for the participants to enjoy both before, during and after the race.
"We got some really generous donations of coffee, fruit, bagels and breakfast items, and things like chicken sliders, chili, and soup for everyone when they finished," she said.
Live music invited family and friends to relax and cheer racers on as they sprinted or walked the final distance.
The first runner to arrive back at Burleigh Farm was Peter Hamme of Needham, Mass., with a time of 1:54:49. Hamme was followed by John Zumbac of Ashland (1:44:26) and Steve Ryhm of Exeter (1:58:01).
The ladies were close on their heels along the rugged course. Nina Silitch of Dublin finished at 2:09:03, Laconia resident Crystal Seeley clocked in at 2:25:49 and Michelle Roy of Hampton completed her run at 2:26:54.
Anyone who would like to make a donation to Squam Lakes Association for their trail maintenance and other programs can find more information on how to contribute through their Web site, www.squamlakes.org.