Can you imagine anyone running 100 miles? Can you imagine anyone wanting to run 100 miles? I can’t. (For some of us, 100 miles is a long drive.) But running in a 100-mile race was a goal Christy Boris of Templeton set for herself … a very tough challenge for a 52-year-old woman … but SHE DID IT! Absolutely amazing!
We’ve all heard of a marathon race, especially the Boston Marathon that takes place on Patriot’s Day in April, and we’re very impressed with those hardy souls who make that 26.2 mile run. But, when we heard Christy Boris talking about preparing to run in an ultramarathon race of 100 miles that had to be completed in 30 hours which meant running all day, through the night, and part of the next day, we could hardly believe our ears. We decided right then that we wanted to go watch — the daytime part.
It took place on October 15th and 16th on an old rail trail that runs between Brookline and Milford, New Hampshire.
Buddy Dougherty of Brookline told us, “Ice built that railroad.” Ice? He went on to explain, “The clean water of Lake Potanipo produced high quality ice and a railroad was built to transport it to Boston. When refrigeration was developed in the 1930s, ice was no longer needed and the railroad went out of business. Folks missed the sound of the train, some said they sometimes still heard its whistle at night, and it became to be referred to as the Ghost Train.
The rails were removed in the 1940s to be used for scrap metal for the WWII war effort and the beautiful forested area beside the trail started to spread onto the rail bed. It looked like the historic railroad’s path would completely disappear until Conservation Commissioner Dougherty came up with an idea in 2008 of a way to rescue it … develop the railroad bed into a racing trail, a place to host a growing sport that people pay to enter which could provide funds to maintain the trail.
Ghost Trail Trail Race
The Conservation Commissions from both Brookline and Milford joined together to plan the event, which started with a 15-mile run, 7 1/2 miles each way. It was well received and three years later the innovative committee decided to hold a 100-mile ultramarathon and they chose an interesting title that reflects its historic past — the Ghost Train Trail Race.
Only 18 participated in the first event, which now has grown to host 400. This year all tickets were sold out within two hours after they became available on February 22, and 185 runners were on a waiting list hoping for cancellations. Runners signed up from many states, even Puerto Rico. Christy was quick to get registered.
Preparing for the race had been her goal for several years. She ran her first race on the Ghost Train Trail in 2012 and achieved 30 miles. Each year since, except for Covid years when the race was cancelled, she progressed. In 2016 she made 75 miles.
Christy has great determination and didn’t give up. She bought a book by Bryon Powell with a guide for running ultramarathons, and she started his plan last winter and followed it religiously — she ran five times a week, sometimes 20 miles and one run was 45 miles.
“Running is relaxing. It’s peaceful,” she said. “I run in the woods, and there’s never a bad day in the woods.”
As she was preparing her body, she was also preparing her mind. A winner from a previous year told us, “A person whose mind is trained for the task has a better chance of finishing.”
Race preparation is key
Christy carefully thought out every detail — good socks, an extra pair of sneakers, light clothing for daytime, warmer clothing for night, a good head lamp, lots of high carbohydrate snacks and also some with sugar and salt, plenty of water.
“It was a running picnic. I carried food and water in a backpack and ate and drank while running, just a small amount at a time,” she said. “I only stopped to use the bathroom and pick up supplies.”
Christy called the race “a team effort.” Her husband Mike had a big part is her success.
“He trained with me. He rode his bicycle near me every time I went for a run and during the race he prepared my backpack for the next segment of my race. He drove the car back and forth 7 1/2 miles between the two check-in stations, took the pack off my back, and handed me a new refilled one for the run back.” Mike did that for 25 hours. That’s a dedicated husband!
She had five other important people on her team — the pacers. They were friends who ran with her. She ran the first 30 miles alone and then a pacer joined her for a 15-mile segment.
“They were encouraging, we had good conversation, they reminded me to eat and drink,” Christy said. “It was especially helpful to have someone with me at night.”
The race started at 9 A.M. on Saturday. Of the 400 that started, 49 finished. Christy finished in 25 hours, 39 minutes, and 29 seconds. She accomplished her dream and, beyond that, she came in first in her 50 to 59 year age group.
Husband Mike said, “You can’t imagine how proud I am.”
Carole Gariepy is a Phillipston resident and author of “Dragging Gerry around the World” and “Why Go There?”