Monday, July 8, 2013

Loon Mountain - There is no Safe Word

Loon Mountain Race

This is one of my favorite races in the USATF NE mountain series probably because it reminds me so much of “European” style mountain racing.  It isn’t the type of racing that I’m at the best at (too much downhill and too many quick pace changes).  I prefer a steady difficult climb, but at least with the progressive difficulty at Loon I can generally reel in people who go out too fast.

I went up to Loon at on Saturday and met Paul Kirsch at 5:30am to mark the course.  We spent 2.5 hours out there flagging the race and trying to stay hydrated.  It was warm and very buggy out there and I felt a bit beat up after that.  Anyway, I drove 300 miles on Saturday then did headed back up again on Sunday morn.  I woke up with a headache and just didn’t feel up to racing, but hoped that feeling would go away once I got to the site.

I couldn’t locate anyone when I wanted to warm-up but bumped into a few of the CMS guys for the last mile or so of the warm-up.  I didn’t feel all that bad warming up, just a sore left hamstring probably from the downhill braking the day before.  It was warm, but not as bad as it had been the day before.  I put some ice in my hat and splashed around in the stream right before the start.

The field was over 300 runners which is incredible for an off-road Mountain race!  I got on the far right of the line since we’d take a sharp left after the first 200 meters and I got a very relaxed start.  There were 20 guys in front of me when we hit the cat-track and the first climb about 400 meters into the race.  That is about “normal” for this race, there is usually a lot of company for the first mile before the steady climbing starts.

At the mile I had moved up to 15th place and with the start of the steady climb I felt a lot better.  By the 2 mile mark I’d rolled by a couple of other guys and was thinking I had a shot at the top 10.  I could see Tim Van Orden (16 seconds ahead at 2 miles) up ahead and further ahead top Master Todd Callaghan.  I tried to keep and even effort and moved into 10th place when I passed TiVO just after the 3 mile mark.  The BAA guy (David Bedoya) was not too far ahead and he did a lot of power-walking (which was as fast as I was “running” at times).  I focused on closing the gap and caught him just before four, both TiVO and David offered encouragement as I went by.  I had nothing to say, I was breathing too hard to talk.

Although I gapped Bedoya he caught me again on the long downhill from 4-4.5, I think that was the first time I’ve been passed at Loon.  We were stride for stride when we hit the 1km stretch of climb that is the Upper Walking Boss.  I ran the entire climb but it was slow (from the turn onto UWB to the summit gondola took me 9:14).  I felt pretty good and closed the gap on the three guys in front of me, but knew I’d need to be well in front of them with the crazy final ½ mile descent.  My goal for that part was to just stay on my feet and not get hurt.  Todd was 40 seconds ahead at the top of the climb and he finished 1:10 ahead of me, so he put 30 seconds on me over the last ½ mile.  Yikes!  Splits: 6:40/8:43/8:41/10:50/12:49/3:45

I can’t complain about the race, I gave what I had.  It wasn’t my worst time and certainly wasn’t my best.  Next up: U.S. Mountain running championships at Mt Cranmore.

Pl Time Name                                        CITY                 CLUB
1 44:58  Eric Blake           34M      West Hartford     CT        La Sportiva
2 47:28  Josh Ferenc       31M      Saxtons River      VT        BAA
3 48:24  B Newbould       31M      Nottingham        NH        WRT
4 48:59  Eric Macknight    24M      Ballston Lake       NY        WRT
5 49:27  Kevin Tilton       31M      North Conway     NH        CMS
6 50:17  Todd Callaghan   43M      Beverly Ma          MA        GCS
7 50:39  T Williams          27M      Jackson  NH       
8 50:54  Drew Best         31M      Amherst MA        SMAC
9 51:27  Dave Dunham    49M      Ward Hill            MA        CMS
10 51:59 David Bedoya    36M      Somerville           MA        BAA

11 52:32 Tim Van Orden  45M      Bennington        VT        CMS
16 55:46            Tim Mahoney      33M      Holyoke MA        CMS
46 64:42 Paul Bazanchuk  58M      Center Conway   NH        CMS
165 82:11 David Lapierre  49M      Chelmsford         MA        CMS
230 92:32 Melissa Tuomi  34F       Holden   MA        CMS
254 97:47 Ray Desautels  47M      Oxford   MA        CMS
289 108:12 Walt Kuklinski 64M      Princeton           MA        CMS

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