AMHERST, NH--(Marketwired - May 6, 2014) - Brandon Baker edged out Chad Denning by one second in the first annual Joe English Trail Challenge (JETC) in Amherst on Saturday. Baker of Londonderry had the fastest time of 2:18:24. The first woman to finish was Michelle Roy-Hurt, Hampton, NH in 2:51:38. Following closely was Amherst's Peg Fokas in 2:57:13.
The JETC is the first event of its kind in the region, featuring multiple unbridged stream crossings, boulder fields, and mud holes. Eighty five runners from New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, and Costa Rica sought out the rocky New England terrain as a welcome change from road races over the 25-kilometer course.
Many runners praised the course, laid out by volunteers, for its unusual terrain. Said one: "Technical, challenging, roots, rocks, steep climbs, brooks, descents -- it was all there. A day later on tired and sore legs I can say with confidence that I'll definitely be back!"
Proceeds from the JETC benefit the Amherst Land Trust for land conservation. Major sponsors included the Bean Foundation, Carson City Tire of Amherst, Supercandy of Andover, Mass., and Amherst Physical Therapy.
The challenge crossed hundreds of acres of conservation land in the 558-acre Joe English Reservation. It also crossed private lands targeted for protection by land-conservation easement. Over 50 volunteers contributed their time to the event, which included seven aid stations and featured start and finish segments on the lakeside fields at Freestyle Farm.
Said event director George Bower, a veteran competition organizer, "We sought to offer a unique event for people to challenge themselves like never before. We don't consider it a race against a field of others but rather a personal challenge where each entrant tries to beat his or her own time year over year. Believe me, anyone who finished this event, won! It requires training to ascend the 3,000 feet of cumulative climbing, as well as the rough footing that's completely unlike running on roads. The course is intended to favor being smart over being fast."
The second event in the Joe English series is the Twilight Challenge, to be held on October 4, in which runners will run from 6 p.m. to midnight. They may choose to run alone or in relay teams, doing laps on a 2.62-mile course, running a half marathon, marathon, or "ultra." More information on that event will appear at joe-english.org. Click here for Joe English Challenge results.