We started at the base of the Skyline South Trail by the Ranger Station and ran the sections to the West first. We descended on North Skyline. On the return trip, we ascended North Skyline and descended South so that over the course of the run we had ascended and descended each part of the trail. We followed the descriptions provided above as to start and stop points. My watch ran continuously with the exception of a few seconds after tapping the button on a tree during a slippery descent.
The weather was not in our favor; wet rocks made for much slower descents than usual, and the rain interfered with vision. We supported ourselves using a car as an aid station to change clothes. As a result, I believe that this time is quite soft and ripe for someone else on a training run to improve upon. It would not be hard to imagine someone trimming an hour to an hour-and-a-half with better conditions.
I would recommend this run for anyone training for a technical ultra or trying to get in significant elevation without straying far from Boston.
Ben, Can you detail where the Skyline Loop should be started and stopped (and perhaps do the same for Reservoir)? The Strava data has the point being down a trail off of South Border Road and the runner going counterclockwise. My anecdotal experience suggests that the more common start/stop location will be sheepfold or near the start of the TARC Winter Classic, which runs the loop 5 times. It might be nice to standardize this to make it a bit easier/more official for runners to make and record attempts.
At least two posts in this thread are referencing the Middlesex Fells skyline loop. Let's keep this thread about the Blue Hills.
I've been trying to find the "random guardrail in the trees" on the western end of the [Blue Hills] trail, by what I call the "lost highway." Ben's GPS track shows him turning around exactly at the last blue blaze, which happens to be on the lot line, but there's no border marker that I could find. (There should be a survey mark not far to the southeast, but it wouldn't be visible from the trail.) Ben's turn-around spot is also almost due north of the end of the guardrail for the non-abandoned highway ramp, which is just visible through the trees. Maybe that's the guardrail that Ben was referring to.
After the last blue blaze, the trail continues, crossing a concrete-lined drainage ditch and then climbing up to the end of the abandoned highway ramp. The asphalt would make a really clear turn-around point and only lengthens the run by a few seconds.
That is the guardrail through the trees, the one to the highway ramp. The times I have run it, there was no obvious continuation of the trail, it was all quite overgrown. I'd be fine with a turn at the asphalt as long it was obvious that the run was faster, which should be easy to see from a GPS track.
I ran 95% of it with Josh Katzman. He ran 7:10. Thom Gennaro and Matt Picard joined us for the first out and back. It was great running with all three of them and a lovely time overall. That said, the last 25% was rough with some bad chafing for me and horrible foot cramps for Josh.
I think there's still quite a bit of room to move the record down, but this felt like a pretty good effort!