This was the 23rd annual running of the Wachusett Mountain race and in a partial return to its roots there was an “uphill only” option this time around. The last time the race was uphill was back in 2008 on the original 4.3 mile course. This year they kept the course as it has been for the past three years, 2.85 mile run to the summit followed by a 3+ mile run down. The USATF Mountain series would be scored on the times for the uphill but runners could continue on for the overall race. This was done to encourage some of the Mountain runners who weren’t fans of the up/down series races to give this a go. This would be my 19th time racing at Wachusett and I had no plans to run down. My ankle/foot woes have not just kept my training at a low level but also stopped me from doing any downhill running. I was happy to have the option to count in the scoring with just the ascent.
I showed up in Leominster two hours prior to the start and parked at the visitor’s center. From there I made my way up the course on my Mountain Bike. I went very slowly not wanting to put in much of an effort prior to the race. I locked up my bike on the summit (so that I wouldn’t have to run down after) and then hiked down the nice Pine Hill trail. The bike up was 1.7 miles and the hike down was just .6 miles. After that I drove over to the ski area parking lot and picked up my race number.
I met up with teammate Paul Baz and we went out for a 3 mile warm-up. I felt kind of flat which is typical before a race but I had pushed it a bit on Thursday and was regretting the effort I’d put in. There was a great turnout for the race (nearly 250) and we lined up on Mile Hill road with temps in the 50’s and a steady tailwind. The field shot off at the start and I was having trouble hanging on to the back of the big pack that formed. I found myself in about 25th place ½ mile in and I was working pretty hard. Kim Nedeau went flying by, but I reeled her back in before the mile as I steadily caught some of the early fast starters.
We turned into the State Park at 1.25 miles and I lost some ground on the downhill (running cautiously). Kim went by me again as we started the steep climbing. I felt okay, just really stale. I was putting in the effort but spinning my wheels. I could see Craig Fram up ahead with Erik Vandendries right with him. I knew they were the top 50+ but there was no way I could run that fast. I was wheezing as I went back by Kim after the 2 mile mark. Knowledge of the course certainly helps and I pushed hard over the last ½ mile as we turned onto the parking lot entrance.
I ended up running 21:26 which was within 5 seconds of my time last year and only 22 seconds slower than two years ago (21:21 and 21:04 respectively). Considering my lack of training this year I can’t complain about the result. I can only hope that I get into a bit better shape before Mt Washington!
I spent about 2 minutes on the top, jumped on my bike and 9 minutes and 3 miles later I was back at my car. I was on the road to Vermont before the first running crossed the finish line.
Pl Time Name Team City/State
1 19:07 DREW BEST aR AMHERST MA M33
2 19:20 JOSH FERENC W.E. ATHENS VT M33
3 20:27 NATE SANS PRINCETON MA M23
4 20:37 ALEX MCGRATH WRT MARLBOROUGH NH M24
5 20:38 TIM MAHONEY CMS HOLYOKE MA M35
6 20:42 CRAIG FRAM WRT EXETER NH M56
7 20:43 MATT VEIGA CMS LYNN MA M28
8 20:44 ETHAN NEDEAU aR LEVERETT MA M42
9 20:44 TODD CALLAGHAN CMS BEVERLY MA M45
10 20:44 ERIK VANDENDRIES CMS CHESTNUT HILL MA M50
16 21:26 DAVE DUNHAM CMS BRADFORD MA M51
17 21:34 KIM NEDEAU LEVERETT MA F35