Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wachusett Mountain

Kicking it in (both feet off the ground) - Pic by Kristen
I’ve always enjoyed doing the Wachusett race, it was one of the first mountain races I did. I’ve never had my best performances at Wachusett due in part, at least I think, to the course not being “slow” enough for me. The traditional course with climb, break, climb, long break, long climb, was not suited to my style of running (one gear). This year the course was changed due to construction on the auto road. The new course would be up/down and ¾ trail. That would make it even less suited for me, but it is part of the USATF NE mountain series so off to Westminster I went.

Teammates Kevin Tilton, Tim Mahoney, and Abby Mahoney joined me for a run over the new section of the course. We picked up the course at about 1.8 miles and ran the loop to the finish (5.2 miles) and added on a little to check out the first single-track section. For the most part the course would be very run-able and very fast. I was very surprised to see Craig Fram as I headed over to the start. He had won the 40+ division in 2008, but has stated a number of times how much he dislikes off-road running. There were also some fast runners present including 2008 winner Ryan Carrara and more of my CMS teammates (Andy McCarron, Jim Pawlicki, Tim Mahoney and Tim Van Orden to mention a few).

The pack took off at a near sprint at the start. I think a lot of people figured they’d get a break with the long downhill single-track so why not run harder than usual at the start. I ran pretty hard and found myself in 13th as I passed the mile in 6:51. The last couple of years I’d been right around 7-flat at the mile so that was a good sign. I was very cautious on the downhill and caught Craig about ½ way down as he stood on the side of the trail and let me go by. He noted as I passed “this is not for me” and continued “I don’t want to get hurt”. I could certainly relate. I just wanted to get through the ½ mile without any major problems then press.

I hit Balance rock road in 12th place and immediately caught two guys on the first uphill pitch. The steep single-track uphill brought another guy back and got me within striking distance of Allen Spencer. The long steady downhill was fun and fast. I pushed as hard as possible and could see Jim Pawlicki, TiVO, and Todd Callaghan up ahead and somewhat closer was Tim Mahoney. I pulled up closer to Spencer but couldn’t quite get around him. As we closed a bit on Tim, the other group pulled further away. I thought about every second TiVO gained on me that I’d need to earn back on the steeper climbs later in the series. That kept me motivated to keep the hammer down.

I could see Jim, Todd, and TiVO battling at the bottom of the hill although I never saw Todd wipe out (he did a nice recreation during the warm-down). I couldn’t get around Spencer and in the chute the first thing I asked him was “are you over 40”. He was, so I ended up third master for the second year in a row at Wachusett. My percentage behind Carrara (who took Kevin in a tightly contested race up front) was nearly the same as it had been last year, so I’m pretty happy about that.

A big group headed out and ran out/back on Balance rock road for a warm-down. It was a lot of fun to rehash the race and there was an added bonus in having us turn at the water-stop so we could even get a drink on the warm-down. I was at a sugar low by the time we got back and was glad to find a cold Polar Cola and some Funny Bones. That made my day!

The complete results are not posted yet but here are the top 9.

Wachusett Mountain - May 23, 2009
5.2 mile with 1,000’ climb & 900’ drop
===== =================== === = ======= =====
1 Ryan Carrara 30:44 NB-Boston
2 Kevin Tilton 30:48 CMS
3 Andy McCarron 31:46 CMS
4 Jim Pawlicki 32:44 CMS
5 Tim Van Orden 32:45 CMS 40+
6 Todd Callaghan 32:48 GCS
7 Tim Mahoney 33:26 CMS
8 Allen Spencer(?) 33:31 BAA(?)
9 Dave Dunham 33:35 CMS 40+


mquintal6 said...

Nice job, I wanted to try some mountain races this year but it doesn't look too good right now. Funny Bones, those hit the spot.

double-d said...

They had all kinds of good stuff like snowballs, hostess cupcakes, etc. It definitely set the mark for other races.