I headed up to Gilmanton for my final race of March. This would close out the month with 6 races, which would tie the most I’ve ever done in March. I’d raced at Gilmanton three times previously, so I knew what to expect (4 kilometers of fast running and one BRUTAL kilometer of dirt road climbing hell). I arrived a little bit early and had a few minutes to catch up with teammate and race director Scott Clark. Scott puts on a great event and it typically kicks off the spring racing season in New Hampshire. It is always great to see old friends turning out for another year of racing. A record field of nearly 300 showed up on a just about ideal morning.
I ran the course plus a mile as a warm-up. There was a head-wind but it was during the first 1.8 miles which are almost entirely downhill so it wasn’t too bad. It was good to get out on the course and get a reminder of how tough the hill is from 3k-4k. After switching to racing flats I headed out for another mile with some strides and hit the line just as they announced “2 minutes”.
The start was much cleaner than I recall in past years and I found myself leading as we turned onto Route 140. I could hear a couple of guys right behind me but no one seemed to want to move into the lead. I kept what I hoped was an honest pace and we rolled through the mile in 5:21. That was right on schedule and I kept the lead as the descent got a bit steeper. We turned onto the dirt road (Currier Hill) and the two guys were right on me. Just as we hit the hill (240’ of climb in 1k) one of the guys flew by. He hammered the start of the climb and I just tried to keep an even effort. I hit two miles in 10:52 (5:31), again right about what I’d hoped for. The weird part was that I was battling for the lead, not back around 10th place (as that kind of time would typically place).
Just as I moved up onto the leader I was also caught by Nacho Hernandez (I know it was him because he has “Nacho” stenciled on the back of his singlet). We moved into the lead together just before the 4k mark (it took us over 4:10 to run that kilometer). I pushed knowing I didn’t want it to come down to a kick and was surprised to pull away. With 400 to go I had a couple of seconds lead, with 200 to go I had about 3 seconds, with 100 I still had about 3 seconds. At that point Nacho realized he had another gear! We turned the final corner and I could hear Andy announcing that I was about to win and right about then I got passed. I was all-out and with 50 meters to go he put about 3 seconds on me. Ouch that hurt!
It was fun to race for the lead even though this was the slowest winning time since 1999 (first year of the race. I was mad at myself after crossing the line and thought about where I could have gone faster and really couldn’t find a point during the race when I’d eased up. I gave it all and such is the way of things. I put in another 4 miles then got myself some donuts and drink (they had pizza and all kinds of goodies). I got 17:30.9 on my watch (2 strides AFTER crossing the finish) and “Teschek Timing” had me at 17:32. CMS put five in the top twelve including Scott who had a solid run despite a hectic morning as race director. Thank you Scotty and all of the volunteers for an excellent race!
1 17:28 Nacho Hernandez 19 Manchester NH
2 17:32 Dave Dunham 49 Bradford MA CMS
3 17:40 Jotham Burnett 33 Canaan NH
4 17:46 Sam Evans-Brown 27 Concord NH
5 17:50 Scott Clark 47 Gilmanton NH CMS
6 18:32 Ryan Lafrance 15 Gilford NH
7 18:35 Ernest Brake 51 North Sutton NH CMS
8 18:42 Warren Bartlett 15 Loudon NH
9 18:49 Neal Graves 30 Croydon NH
10 19:04 Tim Cox 39 Northwood NH CMS
11 19:04 Mark Richardson 19 Concord NH
12 19:29 Sam Wood 26 Laconia NH CMS