Monday, August 27, 2012

U.S. 10km trail championships

I headed down to North Carolina for the third consecutive year to compete in the U.S. 10km trail championships.  I’ve enjoyed the race in past years and the location in the mountains of NC provides ample opportunity to bag some peaks and visit some interesting attractions.  Todd Callaghan (Gate City Striders) joined me for the trip and we had fun on Thursday and Friday checking out the highest point in the state among other cool stuff.  We previewed the course which even at an “easy” 10+ minutes per mile seemed pretty tough.

Race day was reasonably cool (for August in NC) and I warmed up with a bunch of loops on the paved camp road which was the flattest spot around.  The race is named the “Continental Divide 10km” and truth in advertising we’d pass over the divide four times during the race.  I changed into my race flats (Inov-8 212’s with great grip!) and did another mile with some strides.  It had warmed up quite a bit and it was border-line hot in the sun, luckily most of the course would be well shaded.  I felt decent in the warm-up, although I was concerned about my “off” race at Lynn Woods earlier in the week.  All of my training and racing so far this year pointed towards times just a bit faster than 2011 but at Lynn I’d run 15 seconds SLOWER.  I decided I’d push the pace on the better footing and downhill sections and try to keep Todd Callaghan and Jason Bryant (the race director who’d recently turned 40).

Just over 100 runners (in the men’s race) headed off in a sprint.  In true Cross-Country style the course narrowed quickly in the grass field and elbows flew.  U.S. 10,000 meter masters champion Chad Newton gave me a gentle hand to the back (which is normal behavior to let someone know you are slowing them down) and then he zipped around me.  I found myself in the top 20 in the first quarter mile and focused on Chad and Jason.  I lost a little ground on the one very steep section just before we started back up hill.  As we started heading back up Todd gave me a nudge as he went flying by.  I wasn’t surprised that Todd didn’t pass until nearly a mile into the race, which is fairly typical for him.  I worked the steady uphill and reeled in a bunch of guys.  We headed back through the field and I’d moved up to tenth place (I didn’t know that until after the race).  On the next long downhill I picked off one guy and that’d be the last person I’d pass on this day.

At about 3 miles we passed back through the start/finish area again and I checked my split.  I was about 30 seconds ahead of my time from last year (although I’m not exactly sure where I took the split in 2011).  I also checked out where Todd was and he had a 20 second lead on me.  On the longer straights I could see Jason and Chad battling for the top master’s spot.  I kept working hard and felt like I was doing well on the downhill parts and struggled a bit on the climbs.  I never got any closer to Todd and lost a few seconds to him on the final climb.  I was pleased to hold onto the top spot in the 45-49 and very surprised with the top ten finish.  I ended up running 46:19 which was 24 seconds faster than I’d run last year!  This was my third top ten finish in a U.S. championship since turning forty and my first since 2006.

Top 3 in the 45-49

I did a couple of miles warm-down then hung out and watched the women race.  After that we had the extensive awards ceremony (Gate City Striders placed third in the team competition and 2nd in the 40+ team competition).  With a late evening flight Todd and I had time to head over to Stone Mountain where we did a very interesting loop up/over/ and around the Mountain and a chilly soak in the river afterward.  Excellent weekend!

1 41:20 David Roche        24 NC Bull City TC           
2 42:41 Bobby Mack        27 NC   
3 44:07 Duncan Hoge      24 NC Bull City TC
4 44:25 Richard Morris      24 VA
5 44:42 William Marquardt 22 CA
6 44:50 Jason Bryant       40 NC Appalachian Mtn Goats
7 45:29 Chad Newton      42 NC Atlanta TC
8 45:42 Todd Callaghan    42 MA Gate City Striders
9 46:19 Dave Dunham     48 MA Central MA Striders
10 48:01 George Linney   37 NC Bull City TC


Lize Brittin said...

Congratulations on the race, the finish and the faster time!

Anonymous said...


Grat job! I don't get the continental divide stuff, surely all water in the area ends up in the Atlantic????


Anonymous said...

Grat ir better than Great!