National Masters Cross Country Championship – I’d been planning on doing this race for a couple of months and felt that my focus was good. The 5k in Syracuse two weeks before had me thinking I was ready to race. I headed out on Saturday (early) and met up with teammate Al Bernier in Chicopee. We carpooled from there, but our initial goal was not the race site. We passed through Saratoga Springs but continued on to the Saratoga County high point. Oddly neither Al nor I had been to Tenant Mountain previously so this would add to our county high point totals. We parked near an ATV trail and ran a little more than 2 miles into the woods at a nice easy clip. From that point we had another 2 miles to the summit but this would all be off trail (bushwhack). The going was very good with mostly open woods. We discovered a well preserved set of antlers, which Al carried out. We also discovered some pretty fresh bear poo. The first 3 miles into the woods featured only 200’ of climb, the next 1.2 had a little over 1,000 feet of uphill grind. We hiked through a couple of snow squalls and it seemed colder than 40 degrees. We spent just a couple of minutes on the top as there were no views. The hike out was uneventful and Al scooped up the antlers and ran with them the final 2 miles. The entire excursion took us just under 3 hours for the 8.4 miles with 1,400’ of climb and descent.
After that it was off to the Saratoga Spa State Park to preview the course. I felt like we were flying despite the slow pace and put it down to a lot of time driving and on my feet hiking. The CMS guys were all staying at the same hotel so we had an enjoyable dinner out and even some time to hang out afterward since the races were so late in the morning. We got to the race site more than an hour before the masters (40-49) race. My race wasn’t for a couple of hours so I had time to take pictures and then headed out on the course with Paul Bazanchuk to cheer on the guys. The masters had a great race with Greg Putnam finishing in third place one second out of first. The team put 7 guys in the top 15 to take the national title. After they finished Paul joined me (and Erik Wight) for a tour of the course. I again had the feeling we were flying even though the pace was around 9:00’s. It is always hard to tell if that is a good sign or bad sign.
I switched into lightweight road flats (the course was very dry and had a fair amount of pavement) and did another mile with some strides. I felt a little bit better and was ready to see what I had. I like the setup of this meet with 10 year age groups running their own heats. There were 58 runners in my heat (the 50-59 age group), so there was a lot less worry about getting stuck and not being able to pass. At the gun Mike McManus took off on his own and essentially ran a tempo run for the win. His 15:52 was the fastest time by anyone on this day and good enough for a 27 second win in our heat. I found myself in 10th place for the first ¼ mile of grass before the first turn. By the first hill at ¾ of a mile I’d moved up to 8th place and just before the mile I moved into 7th. I could see sometimes CMS teammate (Mt Washington) Francis Burdett up ahead and tried to focus on keeping him close. I counted about 10 seconds at 1.5 miles. We hit the second (and final) uphill at 2 miles and I closed the gap to about 5 seconds. That was as close as I’d get as the course flattened out and Francis took off. I didn’t ease up and worked right to the finish but ended up 12 seconds back. I was pretty happy to take a 7th place at a National Championship and my time (17:16) was a bit faster than I thought I could run. The course was 3 miles (not 5k) and seemed to run about 30 seconds slower than what you could run on the road for a legit 5k. I’ll take it!
Overall 50 Plus – 58 finishers1 Mike McManus 50 M West Linn OR 15:52 5:07 Urban Athletics
2 Mark Hixson 50 M Simsbury CT 16:19 5:15 Hartford TC
3 Nat Larson 53 M Amherst MA 16:23 5:17
4 Mike Nier 50 M Rochester NY 16:25 5:17 Genesee Valley
5 Mark Zamek 52 M Allentown PA 16:42 5:23 Garmin
6 Francis Burdett 50 M Worcester MA 17:04 5:30 Greater Springfield
7 Dave Dunham 51 M Bradford MA 17:16 5:34 CMS
8 Kevin Forde 51 M Philadelphia PA 17:25 5:37 Greater Philadelphia
9 Alejandro Heuck 50 M Amherst MA 17:37 5:41 Greater Springfield
10 Ron Lombardi 51 M Brimfield MA 17:40 5:42 Greater Springfield
16 Joseph Regan 52 M Marlborough MA 17:50 5:45 U-Lowell teammate!
31 John Griego 57 M Blackstone MA 19:14 6:12 CMS
|200 to go|