I’ve been going out to Northfield to direct and race for nearly a decade and the time is right to move on. I still plan on directing the snowshoe race, but this year I directed my final spring race. The race has been part of the WMAC trail series and part of the USATF NE mountain series since the beginning. It has also hosted the US mountain running team selection race and been named either the New England Mountain or New England Trail championship multiple times. Needless to say I’m very happy about it being a success.
I headed out on Friday and did a loop of the course on my own putting out the mile markers. After a quick break to gather up a few hundred flags I headed out again this time with Tim Mahoney and Paul Bazanchuk. Both have assisted me in the past and made this task much easier and much more enjoyable. It was a great day to be out in the woods but over 2 hours of running probably isn’t the best way to prepare to race. We set up the finishing area and the registration inside and were done by 2 PM. I picked up race day food supplies and shocked the gal at the register by purchasing over 100 bananas. I was enjoying the pool/Jacuzzi at the Brattleboro Holiday Inn by 5 PM.
I didn’t sleep well that night. I never sleep well before a race and it is much worse when I’m directing. After a stop at Dunkin’s I pulled into the visitor’s center ahead of schedule but found I was not the first to arrive. I did however beat Jim Johnson to the race which is unusual. The efficient DRC crew handled number pick up so I was able to sneak out at 8:30 and get in a little warm-up. I did 2 miles then switched into racing flats. Then it was time to get going. After describing the course and the many ways that you could get disqualified we were off.
I felt sluggish but not too bad as I got out with no trouble. I was around 20th place when we reached the gate. I was surprised at how “slowly” the leaders had taken it out. I tried to focus on Todd Callaghan, Joe Shairs, and George Adams. Tim Van Orden (TiVO) was already well ahead so the others would be the next master (40+). Todd slowly pulled away as I got George just before the mile and Joe on the tough climb in the “chute’. After passing Joe I tried to focus on closing the gap to three teammates who were about 15 seconds up. Tim Mahoney, Tom Brown, and Ross Krause were running pretty much together and I felt that the only chance I had to beat any of them would be to outclimb them. Unfortunately Northfield is a fast course (fast being a relative term). It seems that any decent climb is followed by a significant flat section and sometimes even a short downhill stretch. I’m not good at shifting gears, but I slowly began reeling the guys in.
I caught the three just before the summit as Ross took a major spill on the only bit of bare rock on the course. Luckily he was okay and bounced back up. I moved into 12th place as we started the downhill. It was short lived as Tom went flying by at the four mile mark and Ross soon after (he encouraged me to go with him and I tried my best). We never quite got back to Tom but Ross and I went back and forth until just after the six mile mark. He gapped me on the final little uphill but I reeled him back in on the last downhill. I couldn’t quite get by him on the last flat sprint to the finish and had to settle for 14th place and 3rd in the 40+. I just missed my best time on the course coming up 2 seconds shy of my 2009 time. For the first time in my life I finished a race with just one shoe. My (double knotted) right shoe came untied about 2 miles into the race and got looser as the race went on. I thought my shoe would come off on the steep drop near 5 miles but I couldn’t stop to re-tie it. I figured I’d just run until it came off and then finish with one shoe. I lucked out and the shoe stayed on until the last 100m when I just stepped right out of it. This was a first for me, and I hope to never repeat that.
I caught my breath as quickly as I could and headed to the chute to work pulling tear-tags. For the next hour I worked results and then handed out awards. After everything was packed up I headed out to run the course one more time. Ben Nephew joined me and we ran the course in reverse to ensure that the five “missing” people weren’t still out there (they weren’t) and then called it a day…a long day!
1 36:27 Eric MacKnight 22m KS College
2 36:42 Mark Miller 30m BAA
3 36:53 Jim Johnson 33m CMS
4 37:22 Andy McCarron 28m CMS
5 37:26 Tim Pipp 22m CMS
6 37:51 Greg Hammett 33m CMS
7 37:55 Ben Nephew 35m CMS
8 37:57 Tim Van Orden 43m CMS
9 38:45 Todd Callaghan 41m GCS
10 39:07 Paul Morris 24m
11 39:13 Tom Brown 25m CMS
12 39:20 Patrick Ard 27m Whirlaway
13 39:24 Ross Krause 31m CMS
14 39:24 Dave Dunham 47m CMS
15 39:52 Tim Mahoney 31m CMS
16 40:21 George Adams 41m CMS
17 40:33 Joe Shairs 43m CMS
18 40:39 Ryan Aschbrenner 33m GBTC
19 40:40 Allan Serrano 43m Sahwangunk Runners
20 40:47 Kasie Enman 31f BAA
|Kicking it in with half a mile to go|