Trail run in Belknap Range set for May 27

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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

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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.

Temperatures leap, roads shed frost

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Crocuses bloom in a yard in Laconia Monday as temperatures crest into the mid-70s. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)

By DAVID CARKHUFF, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Temperatures leaped 30 degrees in three days, as highs crept into the 70s in Laconia Monday, the National Weather Service reported.
On Saturday, the high only reached 42 degrees in Laconia, the National Weather Service reported. On Sunday, the high was 62 degrees. On Monday, temperatures hit the mid-70s.
Southern New Hampshire basked in even warmer springlike temperatures.
In Concord, the temperature hit 80 degrees at 2 p.m. Monday, the National Weather Service reported.
Across Belknap County, towns prepared to lift spring road weight-limit restrictions.
Jim Goodwin, with the Gilmanton Public Works Department, said, "We're shooting for hopefully next week. We should be all set by next week."
The sudden onset of warm temperatures means a bit of mud emerging in place of the freeze-and-thaw cycle.
"Most of the frost is out," Goodwin said Monday.
In Belmont, the tentative plan is to notify the public on Friday, lifting a 6-ton weight limit imposed during the spring thaw.

Some back roads, such as The Ledges, may take a month longer.
"The roads are looking pretty decent so far. With all the snow we had, it seems like a slow melt time," said Claude Patten, foreman at the public works department.
"Last year, the Ledges, we had to block it off because it turned to mud," he said.
"This year, it's a lot more gradual. The roads are a little damp but not really muddy, which helps us out a lot in terms of maintaining them," Patten said.

County: Hire corrections workers now, worry later about paying

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners have adopted a "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" approach to opening the county's new community corrections center.
Commissioners voted 2-1 Thursday to proceed with hiring the two additional corrections officers Belknap County Corrections Department Superintendent Keith Gray says he will need to operate the facility, despite cuts to the department's budget recently adopted by the Belknap County Delegation.
Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) and Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) voted to proceed with plans to open the center and to seek a supplemental appropriation from the delegation in the near future. Commissioner Glen Waring (R-Gilmanton), who said he also supports seeking a supplemental appropriation, urged his fellow commissioners to first have department heads provide a list of spending priorities with the funds made available by the delegation to show where they are short and to build a case for the supplemental appropriation.
DeVoy and Taylor said they fear that failure to move ahead now would place the county's attempt to secure $216,000 in grants for program staff at the community corrections center in jeopardy.
"We will have missed an opportunity to receive grant money," said DeVoy, who maintained that the $216,000 would be available for the next three years and would allow the county to provide the kind of programs needed to allow the community corrections center to help inmates re-enter the community.

"You can't put people in a soft building without programs," said DeVoy.
He maintained that the delegation's budget contains bottom line numbers for each department and that commissioners can use their authority to transfer funds within departments without approval from the county delegation's executive committee.
DeVoy said his calculations show that the Department of Corrections will run out of money on Dec. 12 unless there is a supplemental appropriation.
"We're going to do what we think we need to do and is the right thing for the county. We're going to do the right thing right to the end," said DeVoy. "We decide who to hire and we're going ahead with that."
"It's a roll of the dice," said Taylor, who pointed out that a supplemental appropriation request will require that the county delegation hold a public hearing on the request.
"We have to make it clear that the budget approved by the delegation is not our idea. It will make legislators see if people in the county agree with them," said Taylor.
Commissioners attempted to get the delegation to reconsider the budget at a meeting which it had scheduled for March 28, but which was attended by only six legislators, none of whom had voted to support the budget which was approved by the delegation by a 9-6 vote last month.
Taylor said the budget adopted by the delegation appeared to have only one goal – to limit the amount raised by taxes to no more than it was last year, and was not designed to provide sufficient funding to open the community corrections facility or for the sheriff's department to fulfill its responsibilities.
He and DeVoy agreed to cut the lines in each department's budget by the same percentage that the delegation had approved for funding the total department budget. Waring said he didn't think that was a responsible way to handle the budget and urged a more methodical approach to building the case for a supplemental appropriation.
Last month the delegation voted to cut the proposed $28 million county budget by over a half-million dollars and to maintain the amount to be raised from county taxpayers at same level as last year, $12,963,440.
The action came on a motion offered by Rep. Marc Abear (R-Meredith) to cut $545,804 from the budget, reducing it to $27,487,463.
Abear's budget cut $126,736 from the Sheriff's Department, eliminating overtime, one deputy and one dispatcher, and cut $44,562 from the Belknap County Nursing Home for an activities position.
It also cut $40,000 from the dietary department at the Belknap County House of Corrections and incorporated a $53,344 cut already made by the delegation for the hiring of two Department of Corrections officers.
On the revenue side it included $290,100 from a bill which has not been adopted by the legislature for the state paying 15 percent of retirement system costs and $175,000 from the Gunstock Recreation Area. Currently there is no agreement with Gunstock on the payment and $100,000 is being discussed as the amount which will be paid.

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