Monday, July 5, 2010

Loon Mountain race

It seems like just yesterday that Paul came up with the idea for a race up Loon Mountain and Richard came up with a way (Upper Walking Boss) to really have a signature section for the race.

I headed up on Saturday for the 5th consecutive year of marking the course and setting up registration with Paul.  We started with a traditional run on the Lincoln Woods Rail trail, a nice relaxing 10 mile jaunt.  Then it was over to Loon for the real work.  We were joined by Gina Lucrezi, Paul Bazanchuk, Tim Mahoney and Brad Hurst.  That made the 2:29 of course marking go by quickly.  We had a lot of fun, but it also made for a long hot day.  The afternoon was really relaxing, hanging out at Paul's house and having some delicious homemade pizza.
Sunday morning came early with a 5am alarm.  The ride over the Kanc went by quickly thanks in part to my large regular coffee from DD and some kick-ass tunes.  I was very pleased/surprised to see Mike Quintal show up.  He hadn't mentioned that he'd be doing Loon, maybe he will attempt the entire series next year?  We met up with Gina, Tim, Paul Baz, and JJ and did a nice relaxing 3 mile warm-up.  I had my ankles taped up tightly and wore my Inov-8's for traction.  The tough decision of the day was singlet or no singlet, which really wasn't that tough of a decision.  It was hot.  A quick soak in the ice cold waters of the river helped me feel okay...for about 30 seconds.

We two beeps of Paul's truck horn we were off.  The leaders went very easy
 for the first flat section and I found myself right behind Tim Mahoney in 12th place.  The first decent climb began to string things out and the leaders took off as Tim and I moved up to 9 & 10th place as we passed the mile.  I felt pretty decent and was hoping to stay with Tim for as long as possible.  I haven't beat him in a Mountain series race so far this year and I knew his PR at Loon was 52:06, so I was hoping that I'd be in his range (I ran 50:01 last year and figure I'm about 30 sec per mile slower right now).

I closed on Tim a couple of times but he'd pull away, he really gapped me on the long downhill/cross hill section after 2 miles.  I got back to him on the grassy climb and he threw a couple of surges at me to discourage me from passing.  I made a move about 3/4 of the way up the tough climb and really pushed to break away.  Just after 3 miles there is a downhill 180 degree turn and Tim was still right on me when we hit that, but the steady dirt road climb from there up to the 4 mile mark gave me an opportunity to get some distance.  It was also the first time since the 2m that I could see Todd Callaghan and Mike Quintal up ahead.  Todd passed Mike on that long climb and I timed Mike at about 1 minute up on me near the 4 mile mark.  I tried to stay in control on the long drop down the grassy ski slope, I'm a lousy downhill runner and just tried to survive.  I took a quick glance back as I turned onto Upper Walking Boss and couldn't see Tim.  Then my focus turned to who was ahead of me.

I could see everyone except for Eric Blake strung out in front of me on the .4 mile section of course that has an average of over 30% grade.  Mike Quintal was alternating walking, running, and crawling on all fours.  He was quite literally clawing his way up the slope.  I downshifted and stayed in running motion for the entire climb and passed Mike a little after 4 minutes into the climb. This moved me into 6th but I knew with the downhill last half-mile no lead was safe.  I kept pushing to the top and wobbled over the summit of North Peak.  The run down North to the finish line is some of the craziest descent I've ever done.  The footing is AWFUL.  I braked my way down and then gave the last push to the finish just dipping under 52 minutes.

It was certainly a surprise to get 6th place, my goal has been to place higher at every Mountain series race so I'll have my work cut out for me next week at Ascutney.  The time (51:56) was definitely at the fast end of what I thought I could run and the guys in front of me seemed to have run slow times, perhaps the heat?

I hope to hear from some of the other guys (and gals) about their splits on Upper Walking Boss.  I covered the .4 miles in 9:02.  The best I've ever done is 8:45 in 2007, in 2008 I was 9:22, and 2009 I was 8:55.

Full results here.  A big thanks to the White Mountain Milers, Paul Kirsch, and all the volunteers who make this excellent race happen!  Thanks to Scott Mason for the race pictures herein.

Top ten:
1 46:32 Eric Blake 31 BAA

2 49:01 Kevin Tilton 28 CMS
3 49:37 Brandon Newbould 28 Whirlaway
4 50:07 Todd Callaghan 40 GCS
5 50:14 Jim Johnson 33 CMS
6 51:56 Dave Dunham 46 CMS
7 52:26 Mike Quintal 32 CMS
8 53:39 Tim Mahoney 30 CMS
9 54:52 Peter Hult 29
10 55:50 Matthew Zanchi 26

8:28 (15:29)
9:05 (24:33)
11:13 (35:46)
12:14 (48:00)
3:56 (51:56)

Compared to 2009
Total = +1:55

This tells me that I'm not fast (47 seconds slow on the "mostly" flat first mile) but that I'm climbing well.  The loss of 28 seconds in the last 1/2 mile definitely shows I was in survival mode coming off of North Peak. 

Next up: Ascutney
Little Dave on the East Branch Locomotive

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