Champion of Trail Running Dies on AT

Chad Denning created unifying race series in New Hampshire

Sep 9, 2014
Outside Magazine
Sign Benton Trail Hiking Mt. Moosilauke

Beaver Brook Trail, where Chad Denning died Sunday, is one of the hardest on the Appalachian Trail, due to its remoteness and rugged terrain.    Michael Tsai/Flickr

Accomplished endurance athlete Chad Denning of New London, New Hampshire, collapsed and died on Sunday while hiking the Appalachian Trail. Denning, a successful ultrarunner and founder of the Western New Hampshire Trail Running Series, was well known in the running community.

Valley News reports that Denning and two friends had been hiking and running Beaver Brook Trail, a remote and difficult section of the New Hampshire portion of the Appalachian Trail, on Sunday morning. Denning collapsed shortly after noon while they were taking a break. A friend administered CPR, but Denning was pronounced dead when a rescue team arrived several hours later. An autopsy is scheduled for sometime Tuesday. 

In his 10 years of living in the northeast, Denning netted a series of first-place finishes in endurance events like the Vermont 100 and Stone Cat Trail Races. Locally, he was known for championing an active lifestyle and unifying multiple towns' recreation departments. He did this most successfully by creating the Western New Hampshire Trail Running Series, a nine-trail event that drew 130 athletes from all over New England to compete in races up to 12.5 kilometers. 

"He was always at the top of the pack. Just a phenomenal athlete," P.J. Lovely, director of the Newport Recreation Department, told Valley News. "The best part about him, he brought a lot of us recreational departments together. We've all become much closer as a result."

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