The Belknap Range Trail Tenders will not participate as runners in the scheduled race on May 27, but BRATTS maintains trails in the Belknap Range mostly on the eastern end and is the designated recipient of proceeds of the trail run. (Courtesy photo)
Gunstock Spring Trail Fling organizer promises to donate to nonprofit trail group
By DAVID CARKHUFF, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — Embarking on the first event for his company, Fresh Tracks Racing, Andrew Hostetler plans to stage a trail run in the Belknap Range called the Gunstock Spring Trail Fling on Saturday, May 27.
The Gunstock Spring Trail Fling is promoted as an 8-mile, 2,200-foot mountain run or 5-km, 1,000-foot trail run at Gunstock Mountain Resort. Runners and hikers are invited to sign up for either the 5-km trail run on Gunstock's cross country ski terrain or the 8-mile mountain run on the Belknap Range Trail.
"I'm pretty confident that we'll have a good draw," Hostetler said.
Hostetler, 26, said he lives in Campton, in Grafton County, when he's not traveling for his job with Spartan Race Inc., an organizer of events such as mud runs and obstacle course competitions. According to his biography, Hostetler works for Spartan Race as a consultant on their obstacle races in the United States and internationally.
"Organizing these smaller events is kind of a hobby but something I'd like to turn into a sustainable business in the future," he said.
The plan is for Fresh Tracks to expand its schedule of races to support networks of trails in New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and throughout the Northeast, Hostetler said.
"I'm a huge trail nut. I love trail running and hiking and backpacking," said Hostetler.
The Gunstock Spring Trail Fling promises to raise money for the Belknap Range Trail Tenders, or BRATTS, an independent volunteer-supported trail maintenance organization (www.bratts.org).
Daniel Tinkham, president of BRATTS, said Hostetler came to a BRATTS meeting a few months ago and asked if the club was interested in "being the recipient of any donation that he might be able to do."
During a talk with the Gilford Conservation Commission on April 4, Tinkham said BRATTS did not plan to be involved in the May 27 trail race other than positioning volunteers with literature at the trailhead. The conservation commission welcomed Hostetler to appear and make a presentation about the race.
In a blog post from October, Hostetler wrote that he was scoping out the course. The 8-mile race route, he wrote, will start at the base of Gunstock Mountain Resort's ski slopes "and take runners along wide XC trails before climbing up to and along the ridge linking Mts. Rowe (1,680 ft) and Gunstock (2,250 ft). Runners will climb a total of approximately 2,200 feet along this course. The race will finish with a challenging single track descent back to the base. The 5 km race route will start and finish at the same point as the 8-mile and take runners along Gunstock's XC and single track snowshoe trails."
Initially, Hostetler envisioned an April 1 race.
Tinkham said, "I told him we can't commit any help on the trail race, and he said he'd take care of it completely. We helped him try to pick a date that was more reasonable than his original date, which was April 1, which would have been quite a show this year with the snowstorm this past Saturday."
Douglas Hill, Gilford Conservation Commission member, said, "This all came to our attention with the notion that it was going to be done on April 1. Whether that was a joke, I'm not sure. It would have been a joke if they had tried to do it. It's pretty gnarly up there. I was actually up there on part of that on April 1. It would have been an interesting place to run. You could barely work it with snowshoes."
Hostetler conceded, "April 1 just would have been terrible," but he said his vision is for a series of trail runs corresponding with the seasons.
"My hope is that we'll have four races a year, one in each season, at Gunstock. A seasonal series of races," he said.
"The plan is for each of those events to contribute to BRATTS and just help sustain those trails around there," Hostetler said.
Registration fees will cover the costs of staging the event, but Hostetler hoped for 100 participants in the May 27 event to break even. Proceeds beyond that were promised to BRATTS.
"Organizing events like this, maybe other activities like ultras and tours, I'd like the proceeds of those events to go toward the maintenance of those trails and also advocacy," he said.
In July, Hostetler plans to host a trail run at Gunstock, one of his favorite places to recreate.
"We're working on another one for this summer, and I'm working with Gunstock to try to put on two more for the fall and the winter," he said.
The Belknap Range Trail extends from the Gunstock Mountain Resort to the Mt. Major parking area, with a 12.2-mile classical route that encounters eight of the region's 12 mountain peaks, according to the site, http://belknaprangetrails.org/belknap-range-trail.
Hostetler described the range as a hiking destination "stitched together with 68 miles of trails suited to both novice and avid hikers alike."
Fresh Tracks Racing plans to hand out samples and prizes contributed by local health food company BeGoodBar. Other supporting companies include Wild Northeast magazine and Maine-based equipment producer STABIL. ReVision energy will also be on hand at the event with their solar energy products, Hostetler said.
Anyone interested in the Gunstock Spring Trail Fling is urged to visit www.freshtracksracing.com.
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