Ascutney Mountain Race
I headed out to Windsor VT for my 11th attempt at the Mount Ascutney race. Of the series races this is probably my favorite since it is all up on paved road. This is the one that gives you some sort of idea whether you are ready for Mt Washington or just blowing smoke out of your ass. I hoped for the former but feared the latter.
Robert the Hungarian joined me (he is in town for a month getting EMT certification) for the 2.5 hour drive. We were met by sunny skies and quickly climbing temperatures as we headed out for a 20 minute flat warm-up. I felt indifferent. I’d dropped my mileage down this week and done a track workout but wasn’t sure what to expect. My goal was to run about what I did last year. I worked out the splits for 32 flat (based on my previous splits) and it was easy to remember – 8, 9, 9, and 6.
I found a spot on the right side of the line which seemed the safest as there is a 90 degree turn about 100’ into the race. Lining up behind Course Record holder Eric Blake seemed like the perfect spot. A record field of 200 sprinted out to that turn. I stayed out of trouble and settled in as the climb started. The first 200 meters is a gentle climb then we turn right and the serious climbing starts. I wasn’t in the top 25 for the first 200 meters but could see Todd Callaghan and Tim Mahoney a few steps ahead. They were the two I was hoping to key off of. I steadily moved up and hit the mile in 8:04, pretty much where I wanted to be and now in 15th place.
Eric Blake was out of sight by the mile as he just crushed the field setting a new course record of 27:57. That is unbelievably fast on this course. Although the AVERAGE grade is the same as running up Mt Washington there are a fair number of almost flat to flat areas that require a lot of “gear shifting”. I was right behind Tim and Todd was a few seconds ahead, Erik Vandendries was also with us. He is one tough nut to crack and at age 49 I’ll have to worry about him a lot more next year when we are both in the Seniors age group.
During the next mile we caught a few more guys and surprisingly closed the gap on both Kevin Tilton and Jim Johnson. I had myself in about 10th place at that point with a 9:02 second mile (pretty much right what I wanted). Soon after 2 miles we caught Kevin and Erik fell off our little group. I stayed tucked in and rarely moved to the front. This was probably a mistake as I knew the flatter stuff coming up would benefit Tim and Todd. I kept thinking “stay tucked, don’t blow up”. I really wanted to break Keith Woodward’s 50+ course record (33:34) and everything else would be a bonus.
We hit three miles in 26:07, so 9:01 for the third mile. I was thinking “a good kick and I’ll break 32”. Todd hammered on the long straight flatter section and gapped me and Tim. Tim rolled by me as the climb got steeper and I just couldn’t go. I ended up covering the final .7 in 6:02 for a 32:09 8th place finish. After a moment on the ground collecting myself I switched shoes and prepared to run up to the summit. Robert (jogged a 39:09) joined me along with Paul Bazanchuk for the .7 trail run to the viewing platform at the top. There was a train of people headed up when we were heading down. Robert and I finished the day with a run down the road.
Our CMS team had a great day with six in the top 11. We finished first in all three team categories (open, masters, seniors). Along with Blake’s CR and my Age Group records there were four other records set. Christin Doneski (WRT) ran 35:10 to take the women’s title running the third fastest time ever. Her time also smashed Suzy West’s previous course record for masters by 1:42. West ran 36:52 in 2003. Cathy Pearce (WRT) finished in fifth place overall as she topped the 50+ age group. Her 39:32 broke Suzy West’s age group CR of 40:52 from 2013. Len Hall was top veteran running a 40:10 which knocked one second off of John Pelton’s age group CR from 2001. The final record of the day was the field of 201 finishers which topped the biggest field of 192 from 2011.
Time Name Age Team
1 27:57 Eric Blake 35
2 30:59 Drew Best 32 aR
3 31:05 Brndn Newbould 32 WRT
4 31:17 Peter Gurney 25 GMAA
5 31:26 Jim Johnson 37 CMS
6 31:59 Todd Callaghan 44 CMS
7 32:00 Tim Mahoney 34 CMS
8 32:09 Dave Dunham 50 CMS
9 32:19 Erik Vandendries 49 NETT
10 32:49 Ross Krause 34 CMS
11 32:51 Kevin Tilton 32 CMS
15 34:24 Matthew Veiga 27 CMS
36 39:11 Paul Bazanchuk 59 CMS
38 39:17 Melissa Donais 30 CMS
41 39:33 John Pajer 51 CMS
57 42:11 Barb McManus 46 CMS
99 47:25 Alicia Eno 35 CMS
103 47:47 Robert Thomas54 CMS
110 49:41 David Lapierre 50 CMS
159 56:39 Walter Kuklinski 65 CMS
196 1:09:59 Geor Boudreau 45 CMS
My history at Ascutney:
Date Time Place Finishers Notes
06/23/01 29:39 2 104 Eric Morse won in 28:47
06/28/03 30:23 2 80 Eric Morse won in 29:49
06/11/05 33:38 6 81 Paul Low won in 29:27, Eric Morse top 40+ in 29:50
07/15/06 33:42 2 55 Paul Low won in 29:39. I ran at 7AM then did timing/scoring
07/14/07 31:32 1 100 Perfect conditions 70's and relatively dry. Took lead from Tim Mahoney at 1m.
07/12/08 31:08 3 131 Eric Morse won in 29:47
07/12/09 38:44 3 176 Ugly new course with a lot of trail
07/11/10 32:05 6 191 Eric Blake won in a CR 28:16
07/22/12 31:04 2 174 Jim Johnson won in 30:04
06/09/13 31:52 6 179 Josh Ferenc won in 29:54
06/08/14 32:09 8 201 Eric Blake won in a new CR of 27:57. I was 1st in the 50+, 2nd over 40