Tag Archives: Compo Hill

Chris Kelly Conquers Compo Hill. Next: The Rockies.

With the temperature climbing toward the mid-90s on Saturday, Old Mill residents sought relief.

Some enjoyed cold drinks at the deli. Some sat under umbrellas on the beach. Some stayed indoors, the AC blasting.

No one thought of running up and down Compo Hill. Not one time — and certainly not 50.

No one, except Chris Kelly.

Chris Kelly is all smiles — after running up and down Compo Hill 55 times, in 90-plus heat.

The entrepreneur lives in Aspen, Colorado. He was visiting his mother Marion, who lives nearby. With a race coming up soon, he figured he’d get in a bit of training.

This is no ordinary race. The Leadville Trail 100 — set for August 20, just 5 days after his 40th birthday — is, yes, a 100-mile run.

But this is no ordinary 100-miler. Starting at 9,219 feet in the Colorado Rockies, and reaching a peak of 12,532 feet, its climbs and dips cover nearly 16,000 feet of elevation.

It begins at 4 a.m. it ends 30 hours later, whether you’ve finished or not. A thousand runners — chosen by lottery — start. Three hundred finish.

Chris’ goal is 25 hours. For that, he’ll earn a large belt buckle.

Chris’ workout was no ordinary training. He chose Compo Hill — from Old Mill Grocery up to the end of Buena Vista Drive, then back down — because it’s the steepest, toughest one around.

Chris Kelly, in action.

It was a grueling physical challenge — made even more difficult, because Chris strapped a vest filled with 2 500-ml water bladders, and pockets for food, sunscreen, etc. on his back, to get used to the weight.

But the Leadville 100 is a mental test as well.

So Chris tested himself that way too. He planned his 50 “laps” up and down the hill — equivalent to a full marathon, including the run to and from his mother’s house at Compo Beach — to be repetitive and monotonous. He wanted each one to be as close to the same time as possible.

He succeeded. His fastest time was 4:08; his slowest, 4:28.

Except, that is, for his final ascent and descent. After hours in the blazing heat, he covered that in a blazing 3:46.

“I’m more proud of my ability to focus, and hit those numbers consistently, than anything else,” he reports. (We spoke a couple of hours after he finished. He sounded as if he had just gotten up from an afternoon watching a Mets game.)

A few of Chris Kelly’s stats.

Chris had another goal: to do all 55 laps in 4 hours. He made it, with 2 minutes to spare.

His total time on Compo Hill was about 5 hours. He stopped from time to time at OMG, for water and bananas. The Leadville 100 also includes stops too, of course, for food, hydration and changes of clothes.

As the day wore on, word spread. People asked questions. Neighbors offered water. There were plenty of cheers.

There were refreshments too. Chris’s mother and children set up a lemonade stand nearby. They raised $457, which they’ll donate to UNICEF’s Ukrainian children’s aid.

Chris Kelly’s mother and children, at their lemonade stand.

As he ran, Chris invited anyone to join him. Go figure: No one did.

The Leadville 100 will not be Chris’ first rodeo — er, insanely long race. He’s done several marathons (his best was 2:44, twice, in Chicago and London). He’ll run both the New York and Tokyo marathons later this year.

And — oh, yeah — he also completed the Grand Canyon Rim-to Rim-to Rim. Those 47.5 miles include a descent of 9 miles, a 7-miles run across the floor, and  7 miles up a 15% – 20% grade. The temperature is over 100.

I got exhausted just typing that paragraph.

Why does he do it?

“The simple answer is: because you can,” Chris says.

“It’s possible, but not easy. It tests the outer boundaries of the human capability. You find all the human emotions out there on the course, at one time or other.”

And, Chris notes, “I live a privileged life in Aspen, just like people in Westport. To voluntarily put yourself in a position of real strain brings joy to the rest of your life. When you do this, you can appreciate every day as something special.”

He paused.

“This is what I do for fun.”

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OMG! Old Mill Grocery Saved!

The market/deli at the foot of Compo Hill has served the Old Mill neighborhood — and Westport — for nearly 100 years.

Now it’s poised for its next 100.

A group of concerned — and active — residents has achieved the near-impossible: In just 2 months, they raised the $1.51 million purchase price. With boundless energy, great creativity — and the help of dozens of other concerned citizens — they ensured that one of the town’s last remaining local landmarks would not fall to a developer’s wrecking ball.

Saved! The sign says it all.

And while they’re at it, they’ll provide training and employment to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Old Mill Grocery & Deli — which I’m sure will soon be called OMG by all — is a nod to the past, with an eye to the future. Old Mill Grocery & Deli was actually its original name, in the 1920s. It’s been called Kenny’s, Elvira’s and Joey’s by the Shore in the decades since.

The original Old Mill Grocery & Deli.

Now it’s not only a market/deli, but a non-profit. Its pending 501(c)(3) status enables the purchase and preservation of the historic gem, and the employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The mission statement — “Preserving History. Serving Good” says it all.

But it would not have been possible without 100 donors, who contributed the first $1 million; another 450 who clicked on GoFundMe to add almost $300,000 more. Contributors came primarily from Westporters, but included former residents who remember the neighborhood store fondly.

Fairfield County Bank, which provided a mortgage to close the gap.

Organizers Jim Hood, Ian Warburg, Chris Tait and Emily Ashken Zobl  lauded town officials too, in the selectwomen’s office and other departments, for their “incredibly supportive” help.

Jim Hood (left) and Ian Warburg, outside their new business..

So when will OMG open?

The new owners are talking with several prospective operators/partners. A deal will be signed soon.

Supply chain issues have created long delivery times for some kitchen equipment. There may be a soft opening, with a partial menu, initially.

“We are in this for the long, long term!” the group says.

But the short-term payoff is already here. Yesterday evening Jim and Ian were hanging a sign announcing this summer’s opening.

A woman pushing a newborn in a stroller saw the scene — and cried with joy.

Meanwhile today, fundraising continues. Naming rights opportunities exist for new partners to provide some or all of the kitchen equipment, pizza oven, beverage coolers, a community table and chairs, picnic tables and umbrellas, espresso and soft-serve ice cream machines, delivery scooters and more. Signage and recognition will be provided. Email OldMillGroceryDeli@gmail.com for more information.

OMG! It’s really happening!

Pics Of The Day #1820

Sherwood Mill Pond morning … (Photo/Paul Delano)

… and homes on nearby Hillspoint Road and Compo Hill (Photo/Jenny Johnson)


Pic Of The Day #1791

Hillspoint Road and Compo Hill, from Compo Cove (Photo/Maxx Crowley)

Pic Of The Day #1477

Hummock Island, and Compo Hill homes (Photo/Dave Dellinger)

Pic Of The Day #1139

Tonight’s Compo Hill sunset (Photo/Lawrence Zlatkin)

Fire Lights Up Compo Hill

Just a few hours after trick-or-treaters descended on Compo Beach, a fire broke out in a detached garage at 32 Sherwood Drive. The street is up Compo Hill from Elvira’s.

The structure, and 2 cars inside, were destroyed. There were no injuries.

Last night’s fire could be seen throughout Old Mill. (Photo/Robin Tauck)

Fairfield firefighters covered headquarters, as Westport firefighters battled the blaze. Westport Police helped with traffic and crowd control. Westport EMS was on the scene too.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Firefighters on the scene. 

Pic Of The Day #131

Compo Hill, as seen from the Old Mill tidal flats — or the Mediterranean? (Photo/Dan Woog)