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Woodstock graduate Fields, of Lyme, exercises his competitive legs with mountain running

  • Jordan Fields, of Hanover, N.H., goes through some uphill runs during a training session last fall. Fields, a former athlete at Woodstock High and Williams College, holds the fastest known times in three mountain running events. Courtesy photograph—

  • Jordan Fields, of Hanover, N.H., approaches Mount Pierce along the Webster Cliff Trail in Bean's Grant, N.H., during his attempt at the fastest known time for the 49-mile White Mountain Huts Traverse last September. Fields holds the mark for an unsupported run in 10 hours, 24 minutes, 44 seconds. Courtesy photograph—

  • Jordan Fields, of Hanover, N.H., left, with his brother, Zane, after completing the 49-mile White Mountains Hut Traverse run at Lonesome Lake Hut in Franconia Notch, N.H., last September. Fields set the fastest known time for the run past eight Appalachian Mountain Club huts along the Appalachian Trail, completing the route in 10 hours, 24 minutes, 44 seconds. Courtesy photograph—

  • Jordan Fields, of Lyme, right, trains with Keelan Durham, 19, of Corinth, left, at Oak Hill in Hanover, N.H., Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Fields, a mountain runner, and doctoral student in fluvial geomorphology at Dartmouth, holds records for the fastest times on three major routes in the White Mountains: the 18 mile Presidential traverse, 29 mile Pemigewasset loop, and 45 mile White Mountains hut traverse. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photos — James M. Patterson

  • Jordan Fields, of Lyme, holds records for the fastest times on three major mountain running routes in the White Mountains: the 18 mile Presidential traverse, 29 mile Pemigewasset loop, and 45 mile White Mountains hut traverse. Fields is a 2012 graduate of Woodstock Union High School. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 2/18/2021 9:48:49 PM
Modified: 2/18/2021 9:48:47 PM

HANOVER — Jordan Fields likes to go on long runs. They occasionally come with gorgeous views. They aren’t for the weekend 5K warrior.

A former cross country skier at Woodstock High and Williams College, Fields — when the weather permits — dedicates himself to mountain running. The sport is a variant of trail running, done at alpine elevations and on rough or previously nonexistent routes.

Ski training in college often involved such runs, Fields said in a phone interview last week. He’s taken it to another level since heading to Dartmouth College for his postgraduate studies: The 27-year-old now holds the fastest known times on three White Mountains routes, including the 45-mile path linking eight Appalachian Mountain Club huts in the Presidentials.

“In my experience, I haven’t been able to be a really effective student or a strong athlete without the other,” said Fields, who is working on a Ph.D. in earth sciences at Dartmouth. “I find I do my best in school when I’m applying myself to athletics outside, and I do my best in athletics when school is there. … I often repeat this ski mantra: Take time to make time, which means gliding on skis rather than rushing. I think about that in relation to schoolwork and training.”

Fields has gained trail cred in mountain running circles for holding the fastest known times, or FKTs, in what is called the “Triple Crown of the White Mountains.”

There’s the 18-mile Presidential Traverse covering the peaks of the Presidential Range, something Fields completed in September 2019 in 3 hours, 42 minutes, 38 seconds. He did the 29-mile Pemigewasset Loop, a rugged trek through the Pemi Wilderness, last August in 5:27:20.

About six weeks later, Fields cleaved more than a half-hour off the previous mark for the White Mountains Hut Traverse, something AMC crew members have historically attempted as a 24-hour rite of passage, Andrew Drummond explained. Fields did it in 10:24:44 — and has been getting noticed for it since.

“Moving quickly is another way to explore the mountains; there’s no right or wrong way,” said Drummond, who runs a Jackson, N.H., shop that caters to the mountain running community and who organizes such events in the Mount Washington Valley. “It’s mentally stimulating to do something like any of these traverses. You have to focus, or you will trip and injure yourself. There is some attribute of moving fast in the mountains that everyone can relate to or find joy in. It’s all relative: It’s my pace or yours, but you can still count it as mountain running.”

Fields graduated in 2012 from Woodstock, where he also ran cross country and captained the lacrosse team, and spent a postgraduate year at the Stratton Mountain School before enrolling at Williams. Already enamored with the outdoors, Fields said the Ephs’ training runs resembled some of the feats he attempts now.

“A lot of our training days were mountain running. We’d go out and run three or four hours on the Appalachian Trail; that was a long training day,” Fields recalled. “When my Nordic skiing career was over, what did I enjoy the most? Long runs are pretty fun, so I started to do a lot of them.”

Mountain running has the added attraction of elevation gain. The Hut Traverse includes 16,000 vertical feet of up, roughly three Mount Washington ascents at a running pace. To find success, an athlete requires knowledge of calorie burn and intake, and long runs sometimes require crew support.

During the Hut Traverse, “I filtered my own water; I’d stop at a stream and use time to filter water from those streams,” Fields said. “Survival isn’t the right word, but there’s efficiency work to it. That’s different from any other kind of race.”

Modern technology has been a boon to the FKT community.

Athletes attempting a record are required to carry a GPS so their times can be accurately recorded. An FKT route need only be a minimum of five miles in length with at least 500 feet of climbing and be “distinct enough so that others will be interested in repeating it,” according to the FKT website.

“Over the past few years, it’s been fun to see people like Jordan set incredible records in the mountains,” Drummond said. “It’s more and more competitive, and Jordan was one of the first people to approach it in a specialized manner. All of his training was focused on the terrain we have here.”

Nordic skiing, particularly uphill on skins, now fills Fields’ training plans. Once the weather warms up, he’s expecting to add more FKTs and compete in mountain running events out west.

“There’s no NBA contract in mountain running; I’m certainly not looking to make a living from it,” Fields said. “It’s what I do for fun, and it keeps my mind and body healthy. Hopefully it will take me to geographically interesting places. That’s why I do it.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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