I'll sum up this race in two words "never again". That is what I said as I crossed the finish line. I've been worried about this race since I heard about the change to trail. I've been to the summit a few times in the past and even the good trail from the parking lot to the top has some sketchy parts.
Anyway, the day started with another huge group warm-up. Other than the big group warm-down, it is probably the best fun of the day. I felt pretty lousy which is normal for me and chatted a bit with Andy M about the course during the warm-up. It would be his first attempt at Ascutney and JJ and I felt he had the best chance of winning. Weather conditions were the best they've been in years, but the big thunder storms from the night before meant very wet trails. When I asked the RD about the trail (with the emphasis on how much downhill there was) I heard that there was some flat but no down.
A record field toed the line, partly due to the 100 Mountain Goats (did all six races in the series). My original plan was to go out hard but I did not feel very good so at the last second I told JJ I was not going to go out hard. Boy did it feel hard! Tim M took it out fast and JJ joined him. I settled in behind Andy and we hit the mile in 8:01 about 5 seconds back. Soon after (or maybe it was right before....who the hell can remember these things) Joe Shaw stormed by. He looked smooth and I had no idea who he was. JJ and I pulled ahead of Andy as Tim M dropped back. Shaw slowly pulled away and was 16 seconds up on us at two miles.
JJ and I were matching strides and hit 2 in 16:55. I started feeling stronger as we went along and was looking forward to some steep climbing. Shaw was looking back a lot and we were closing on him. Just before the trail section (2.3 miles) I called for JJ to take the lead. He noted "I'm in the hurt box" and had me go first. The lead was down to 11 seconds. I knew JJ would not stay behind me, I was going way too slow for him. The footing was crap and I did not want to break an ankle. About 50m into the trail and JJ was flying by. He caught Shaw within the first 1/2 mile of trail.
I loved the climbing sections as I closed on Shaw and could see JJ in the distance. At 30 minutes I passed Shaw on a climb. Then we hit another flat/downhill and I could no longer see JJ. On a switchback I could see that Andy was closing. I went particularly slow on a steep little ravine where you had to climb down a rock. My bod just does not bend the right way to do this stuff, which is why I've gotten away from trail racing. I don't mind going off-road, but give me trails like Loon, Cranmore, Northfield, and even most of Wachusett over this awful junk.
Andy caught me at 33 minutes and I stayed a few strides behind him until we hit the last intersection. I knew how much was left and knew what the footing was like as this was part I'd run in the past. I took my time and pulled into the finish in 38:44 to take third. I was happy to see JJ get his second win of the season, hopefully this will fuel his desire to do the entire series next year. Maybe he'll give Andy a run for his money as Andy took the overall title. I was pleased to sneak ahead of Todd Callaghan for 2nd place in the series. Todd was solid again this year and will be a monster in the 40+ age group next year.
All in all a good day, but I didn't want to hang out too long afterwards. My foot has been very sore for the last month and was killing me standing around after the race. I just wanted to get home and get some ice on it, so off I went long before any results were done. CMS had a great day with 6 in the top 11.
I hope the RD reconsiders the course and either goes back to the road course or maybe the road course and THEN run to the summit via the parking lot trail (which isn't nearly as technical and is pretty much all up).
1 1/26 M3039 37:26 9:22 Jim Johnson 32 M 583 Salem NH
2 1/13 M2029 38:08 9:32 Andy McCarron 26 M 247 Keene NH
3 1/34 M4049 38:43 9:41 Dave Dunham 45 M 539 Bradford MA
4 2/13 M2029 39:03 9:46 Joe Shaw 28 M 373 Grantham NH
5 2/26 M3039 39:56 9:59 Todd Callaghan 39 M 455 Somerville MA
6 2/34 M4049 40:52 10:13 Tim Van Orden 41 M 246 Bennington VT
7 3/13 M2029 41:11 10:18 Thomas Brown 23 M 544 Boston Ma MA
8 1/9 F2029 41:25 10:22 Kasie Enman 29 F 342
9 4/13 M2029 41:39 10:25 Tim Mahoney 29 M 450 Holyoke MA
10 5/13 M2029 43:20 10:50 Philip Mason 22 M 251 North Thetford VT
11 43:56 10:59 James Pawlicki M 562 Beverly MA