Friday, November 26, 2010

Winners Circle XC race

I’ve been running the Winners Circle Thanksgiving race at Maudslay state park since 2003. I went this year with the hope of running close to my time from the last couple of year (around 17:30). I got to the race more than an hour before the start to avoid the crowds. The race is billed as the “largest mass-start XC race in the country”. With 1,200 finishers last year it can get pretty crazy if you don’t arrive early.

I picked up my number and bumped into Dave Quintal on the way back to my car. I was happy to see him; I thought I’d be on my own. It’s always more fun to have a teammate around for warming-up and down. We headed out and ran the course for a warm-up. I felt sluggish, but not terrible and was definitely feeling the adrenaline from the idea of a record field all trying to get to the first turn without taking a big spill. After our 3+ warm-up I switched into my Inov-8 trail race shoes and headed out for another mile with some strides. I was cold, heeding Dave’s advice to go with just a singlet and shorts (and gloves), but not bad. I felt decent doing strides while watching the crowd still marching over to the line.

The start was crazy, but not as crazy as years past. I got out well and following Bob Strout (1:53 speed from back-in-the-day) who loves to go out quickly. This course is great for fast starters with 200m flat then a quick 600m downhill before you start climbing. I worked my way around some of the kids who went out fast and reeled in Strouty by about 600m into the race. Dave also likes to go out fast so I was a little surprised to have closed on him before the ½ mile at the bottom of the downhill. At that point I’d already moved into right around 10th place which was a bit of a surprise. Usually I’m in the 20’s at the point in the race. I tried to push on the uphill, which is basically the next ¾ of a mile. I moved up as high as 5th place and was passed by just one guy (just after the mile). I didn’t feel all that great, but felt like I was putting in an effort that was all I had. I really pushed the downhill leading into two miles knowing I’d need all of the cushion I could get on the final climb back up to the field (the last ½ mile climbs up the same hill we run down at the start). I had a feeling that Dave wasn’t far behind and I know he has a lot more speed than me at the end of a race, so I kept pushing as hard as I could. I was wheezing pretty badly as I turned into the final climb and I was tempted to look back and see where Dave was (I didn’t want him to see me looking so I ended up not taking a peek).

The final 800m was tough, but any last 800 especially in a 5k is tough, and I pushed with all I had until I hit the line. I was a little disappointed with the time (17:37) but happy with the effort. I think the cold and the wind (how could it be windy in the woods?) kept times a bit slower than years past. Dave came in one place and 10 seconds behind me. We headed to the car for warm clothes and then headed out to do the course again. You could tell that the field was bigger than last year. It was hard to find an opening to run in on the way down the hill. We ended up finishing our warm-down a little before the last finishers came in.

The crew was very efficient and right after the last finisher they started the raffle and within 15 minutes they were awarding cash for the top finishers. Dave and I were both surprised to get a nice pay-off for our efforts.

Next up: Andover Country Club XC race on Sunday, if my foot is okay…

My results at the Maudslay Thanksgiving race
11/27/03 - 17:52 - 14th
11/25/04 - 17:09 - 4th (1st 40+)
11/23/06 - 17:45 - 15th (1st 40+)
11/22/07 - 17:29 - 14th (3rd 40+)
11/26/09 - 17:26 - 12th (4th 40+)
11/25/10 - 17:37 - 6th (2nd 40+)

This year:
1 PATRICK ARD  16:21 5:15

2 Tom Leger 16:44 5:22
3 Tim Murtagh 17:03 5:28
4 CHRIS KEALEY 17:10 5:31
6 Dave Dunham  17:37 5:39
7 DAVID QUINTAL 17:47 5:42
8 Peter Van Nostr 17:50 5:43
9 BRIAN MCDONNELL 18:12 5:50
10 MIKE COHEN  18:13 5:51

1 4 CHRIS KEALEY 43 17:10

2 6 Dave Dunham 46 Bradford MA 17:37
3 7 DAVID QUINTAL 47 17:47
4 21 PAUL YOUNG 45 18:52
5 26 JOE GURCZAK 43 19:05

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