The final race of the USATF NE mountain series wrapped up this weekend in Windsor VT. I headed out on Saturday after a nice 8 mile run at Winnekenni. I stopped along the way at Mt Kearsarge, which for a time was home to a great Mountain race. I’d done that race many times but never been up the western side of the mountain. I decided that a nice 3 mile loop the day before Ascutney would be a great way to loosen up. Action Dave (AD) and I were greeted by thick cloud cover and an empty parking lot when we drove up to Rollins state park. The 1.1 mile trail was reasonable, climbing a little over 900’ (?). I was more concerned about the 1.8 mile descent; there was a lot of wet rock to clamber over. I hit the summit in just over 19 minutes then took about 10 minutes checking out the (lack of) view and trying to figure out which bump was the highest point. The down trail took me over twice as long. I was very cautious, but also got some great views of Ragged Mountain when the clouds blew aside.
The clouds stuck around for race morning and it was very humid. I was bummed that they had moved the start time up to 10:00 AM figuring that meant another 10 degrees. A big group of us headed out for the traditional warm-up on the only flat road in the area. It was amazingly humid and as we finished the three mile run the sun began to peek out.
I soaked my singlet in the stream near the start and after a quick stop for a picture with the 104 other “Goats” who ran all six races, headed for the line. There was a little bit of jockeying for position as we took the sharp left hand turn and headed up the road. Eric Blake shot to the front with JJ and MT&Goat behind him. I settled in around 15th place, it didn’t feel like I was “settled” it felt FAST. After the first long straight-away the grade increased and the pace slowed to something more manageable. I eased up to the top ten and already felt like it would be a tough day…I was thirsty already.
By the mile I’d moved into 8th or 9th and began to find a good rhythm. Just before that point the guy who ended up finishing second picked up the pace and was gone from our group. I also made a bit of a move when Todd Callaghan started running beside me instead of in front. Figuring it was my best time to push I gapped him just after the mile and got myself into 6th place. One of my goals for the day was top master and another was to finish better than my position at Loon (6th). I’d have my work cut out for me. I could hear Todd and another guy not too far behind me but didn’t want to look back lest they think I was tiring (I was). I did hear a loud yell after I passed the water-stop. Apparently TiVO mistakenly poured a cup full of Heed on his head instead of water. Sticky mistake.
From two miles on I tried to reel in the guy in front of me with little luck. He seemed to come back on the tougher climbs but really legged out the flatter stuff. The last .7 I made a couple of attempts but never really closed. I gave it my all as I could still hear the guys close on my heels. Blake destroyed Eric Morse’s course record with an excellent 28:16. JJ put a minute on Kevin in the last 1.7 or so to take third. I ended up running a fairly decent time for me, 32:05 which was right about what I’d hoped to run. Todd and TiVO were close behind taking 2nd and 3rd in the 40+ and 8th and 9th place overall. CMS had a very productive day; we placed seven in the top 15.