Overall Rating
Overall Rating (3 Reviews)
4.3
(3 Ratings)  (3 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
4
SCENERY
4.3
PRODUCTION
4
SWAG
4
The Black Bear Trail Runs are back for another Labor Day weekend full of fun in New Hampshire’s White Mountain hide-away, Waterville Valley. Take your pick of the three trail races around the Valley’s historic forested trails. Entry includes custom race bib, finisher’s medal, and the chance to win great … MORE
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Recent reviews

    seagroves87 FIRST-TIMER '23

    This is a trail race that takes place in the Waterville Valley Village in the White Mountains of NH. I was originally planning to attempt to do the half marathon … MORE

    This is a trail race that takes place in the Waterville Valley Village in the White Mountains of NH. I was originally planning to attempt to do the half marathon and do my first triple half marathon weekend and use that as motivation to improve my fitness. But I had a very rough summer with lung issues from the smoke from the fires in Canada so my fitness has gotten worse not better so I decided to drop down to the shorter race. I also had some plans in the afternoon and the half marathon at my current fitness level would take probably close to 5 hours and I was hoping to be done sooner. There is a 5 hour time limit so this is a race you can hike if you aren’t a trail runner. There was not an option to transfer down my registration so I contacted the race and they were very helpful and even refunded the difference which I didn’t expect. Initially the short course was a 5K but we got an email a few months before the race that it was instead going to be an approximately 4 miler. I was personally very happy with this change as I wanted a distance a bit more challenging than a 5K but much easier than a half marathon. The races are staggered and have rather late start times. The half marathon is a 9am, the short course at 10am and the kids race at 11am. I do think the later start times worked for this race even though it can be hot in early September as this is in northern NH where it is generally cooler and allows runners from the more populated southern NH not have to wake up super early. I appreciated the 10am start as it is a 1.5 hour drive for me and I could wake up at a normal time and still get there. There was good pre-race communication including an athlete guide. Packet pick-up is the day of the race. The race doesn’t include any swag except the medal but you can purchase a shirt or trucker hat. It is a relatively cheap registration without any swag and a normal price registration if you add swag. I gave 3 stars for the swag because even though the shirt and hat weren’t included they were very nice. I didn’t purchase them but I might if I do the race again as they were very nice. After packet pickup you line up at the start/finish line. The race is chip timed and it is the same timing mat for the start and finish. The short course was the last section of the half marathon. The course was marked very well with frequent flags and direction signs. There was just one intersection I though could have been a bit clearer but it was overall marked well. It was mostly a loop. It was through very pretty woods. Although I can’t say the scenery was every so amazing I had to stop and take a picture. There was one aid station but it was mostly for the half and kind of an awkward placement for the short course as it was at mile 0.5. Like most trail races you probably want to bring water. The half appeared to have aid stations every 3 to 4 miles. The course was technical and difficult but not crazy. There was 600 feet of elevation gain for the 4 miler and I believe around 1600 feet for the half. The terrains was technical with rocks and roots but nothing crazy. Overall this was about average for a trail race. It is easier than the races at Mendon Pond Park by Rochester. I’d recommend trails shoes and they are a must if you are running it competitively but if you are doing a more leisurely pace or hiking regular sneakers are fine. One tricky thing this weekend was there was a lot of mud. My biggest complaint about the race is how the races were staggered. Since the half started an hour earlier, the fast half marathoners all caught up to me while I did the final 4 miles of their race. I felt like the entire race I was letting faster runners pass me which made it hard to get into a groove. The runners were all very nice and polite and encouraging but it just wasn’t a great set up. To make it worse as I finished over 1 hour the kids race started so there were also kids on the course flying by from that race (I am not complaining about the kids race as kids races are a great way for families to participate I am just complaining about having it take place the same time/course as the regular races as it was quite chaotic). It was fun though finishing with other runners as there were finishers from all the races finishing with me which may be why they staggered the race the way they did. The bibs were different colors by distance and there were distance specific medals. The medal is wooden and so cute with a black bear bum design. I love the medal which is also why I marked swag 3 stars even though it is just a medal. My finishing time was slow but remember this was a 4 miler not a 5K and was actually closer to 4.5 miles. Post race food is a bit disappointing with just the basics like granola bars, fruit and fruit snacks. It was fine for the 4 miler but I’d want something more substantial if I were doing the half. But don’t worry there are plenty of restaurants in the Waterville Valley village right next to the start/finish line along with cute shops. This is a very fun place for a vacation and there is also great hiking so if you like trails this would be a good option for a NH half. Overall I very much liked this race. I would definitely do the short course again and would like to do the half marathon sometime if I can get in better shape and get back into doing more trail training.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    jkahn95600 FIRST-TIMER '23

    Great communication and responses to questions. Race shirt was extra and it was a cute design and they had women's cut and a wooden medal with bear. Check in was … MORE

    Great communication and responses to questions. Race shirt was extra and it was a cute design and they had women’s cut and a wooden medal with bear. Check in was the day of the race and plenty of parking . I did this for my NH state and I run road races so this is where my comments come from. It was small race . It started on time. You start running across uneven grass and then go through lots of mud before the rocks . It was well marked at the start and the finish but when we were in the single track we needed more flags. Great support staff and the views were beautiful. I took this as more of a hike than a race as my road time would have been over an hour faster

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
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    docdandadio FIRST-TIMER '16

    My first ever half marathon - picked a nice small one with some great hills and superb mountain scenery. Although small, it was well run with nice medals, decent shirts … MORE

    My first ever half marathon – picked a nice small one with some great hills and superb mountain scenery. Although small, it was well run with nice medals, decent shirts and great volunteers

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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