the Beautiful Bold Coast Bash
The Bold Coast Bash
The Bold Coast Bash may quite possibly be only slightly more technically challenging than finding a restaurant still open in November in Downeast Maine. This is one that I’ve been looking forward to since its formation in 2019. The course sounded beautiful, echoed in a few photos that the Bold Coast Runners tossed up in forming the event. So much, that I’d already included it in the Trails Collective’s Most Scenic events in the Northeast.
There’s a good amount of the deck stacked against the event. November in Maine let alone on trails can be dicey on even a non-technical course. And, it’s a four-hour or more drive from nearly everyone on earth. The course nearly brushes the border with New Brunswick, sitting just shy of the easternmost location of the United States in Cutler, Maine. For me it required a 90 minute drive to an airport, two flights to get me to Bangor, and another 3 hour drive to lodging the night before the event. It was on my short bucket list though so I stayed committed to making it happen.
The course makes use of a 10.5 mile figure 8 loop on the Cutler Coast Public Reserved Lands, repeated for the 21 miler, and a third time for the 50k. Although there’s no major climbs, and only roughly 1,700’ of elevation gain and loss per circuit, the rollers are made a bit more challenging by a steady barrage of technicality. There’s rock gardens, boulder scrambles, and roots. Add in slick, wooden bog planks and bridges, some with inconsistent anchoring that respond more like teeter totters, and some with protruding spikes and nails in places. But, it’s BeastCoast at its finest and with footing that won’t be unfamiliar to those running in Rocksylvania, the ADK’s, or the MetaComet.
The opening mile takes you through a wet eroded worn entry trail with a handful of rock gardens and planks thrown in. At 1.4 miles you emerge at the headlands, getting your first glimpses of the bold coast, a cliff edge with rugged surf slamming the rocky coast below and, if in the 50k, sunrise bringing a glow to the coastline. For the next mile and a half you ebb and flow above the cliffs, cutting in to traverse streams and columns. Around three miles you’ll start cutting into the figure 8 pass-through, undulating over rocky terra to loop around a bog.
For the next 3 miles you’ll light up in the forests spruce, fir, and spruce forests, shagging in bark. Though you’ll need to watch your step over some slick and spiked catwalks, you’ll also get incredible green moss carpeted flowing singletrack, a magical connection to again emerge at the headlands. On several occasions my teammate Ben Nephew and I audibly expressed surprise at just how beautiful the moss forested flowing singletrack was.
From there you get another incredible 2 miles, waves blowing in off the Bay of Fundy pummeling the coastline and heaving into the air, the sound of booms echoing from contact with hidden coves, the magical sound of stone beaches rolling under the beach breaks.Just shy of 8 miles you’ll again turn inland, repeating the figure-eight cut through before heading through beautiful wet forest to the finish of the circuit.
The Place vs Race
I came into Bold Coast not physically ready to cover 31.5 miles. Through the first loop I knew that the technicality and lack of fitness would make for a rough later go, and I didn’t figure I’d have much mental or emotional desire for two let alone three technical loops. As I often do I cared less about fueling and crashed a bit towards the end of loop two and the technicality ate at my legs despite minimal elevation change.
I absolutely cherished the opportunity to spend hours running with friend and teammate Ben, catching up, and truly celebrating the magnificence of where we were. As I flagged I encouraged him to cut the tether and run in for the win, which he did. At the close of each loop you return to the staging area for a traditional full aid station, the only present on the 10.5 mile circuit. There I grabbed a couple sandwiches, some coke, and felt a return of blood sugar and energy carrying into the final circuit.
Having Ben run ahead also allowed me to do something that I would have had a difficult time doing if feeling like it would drag someone else down. That was to disconnect from the event as an event, and spend the next couple hours enjoying the Place more than the Race. I stopped at and photographed overlooks, thought about how wonderful it would be to return with friends and family. Filmed the mossy forests and crashing waves. I took the opportunity to immerse myself in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. As I turned inland for the last time on loop three I immediately pined over the leaving of the Bold Coast. Its energy, power, splendor.
We were truly lucky in 2021. It was a 50 degree day with cooling headwinds and sunshine. It was a perfect day for running, and minimized the very real safety considerations that the event and entrants need to mind, and which is reflected in the mandatory gear check. November can also bring freezing temps, high winds, ice on the rocks and bridges, and significant risk if one were to get injured far out on the loop. Our blessings were counted.
The Bold Coast Community
I’m grateful to the Bold Coast Runners community for putting on an event, for being a great small running community. For sharing their piece of paradise. The Bold Coast Bash was well worth the wait, worth the drives, the flights. It’s truly one of the most beautiful courses I’ve ever run and it should be at the top of anyone and anyone’s trail bucket lists. Check them out at Bold Coast Runners and the event for next year on UltraSignUp. The field size is capped pretty tight, so if the opportunity is there, don’t wait on it. I may just see you there.