Mill Cities Relay – I’ve always enjoyed the Mill Cities Relay, a New England classic that runs between Nashua NH and Lawrence MA. This year was my 11th time taking part and a rare chance to run the anchor leg. I find it hard to believe that it has been 28 years since my first MCR! I was running for the Gate City Striders 50+ team as CMS isn’t one of the invited teams for the MCR. It was funny seeing so many CMS runners at the number pick up! A lot of us belong to multiple teams and this is mostly a fun event so CMS runners have found a way to run.
Some of my teammates that I saw include Ernie Brake (GCS) who was running on the same 50+ team as me, Dan Verrington (WCRC) doing the long leg, Todd Callaghan (GCS), Jim Pawlicki (SRR), Arthur Besse (NMC), Dan Vassallo (Wicked), John Payer (NMC), Sam Wood (GCS), Abbey Wood (GCS), and Alicia Eno Juhl(Mystic). After collecting our numbers Ernie, Dan and I piled into my car and headed off to the Lowell boathouse. The plan was for me to hang out at the start of the 9.5 mile leg and then head off to the end where I’d pick up the baton. The GCS team had submitted approximate times for each leg so we had an idea of when Ernie would head out. Once he started I’d have an hour to drive the leg and get in a warm-up before taking over.
Within a minute of the expected time team captain Bill Newsham came flying into the exchange zone at 6:00 pace and Ernie headed out. I got myself in gear and made my way to Methuen. The day was turning out to be fantastic for early December. It was around 40 degrees, sunny and very little breeze when I headed out for a 2.25 mile warm-up. I saw Jose Ortiz come hammering in leading the race by a good half-mile. Dan Vassallo came by next looking strong. I ditched my warm-ups and headed to the start line and nervously waited for Ernie to arrive. He also showed up right on schedule (running 6:16’s) and I hit my watch and headed out.
The start of my 4.75 mile leg is part of an out & back, so I could see other runners coming in from the long leg. I immediately saw Doug Martyn finishing his leg and knew that the Whirlaway 50+ team was only about 30 seconds behind me. Right after that I saw Dan Verrington who also yelled out that Whirlaway was right there. I tried not to think about it and just run my own race. Relays are kind of strange since (unless you are the first leg) you don’t have a mass start. I’d be hunting down anyone in front of me with little idea of what anyone behind me would be doing. We were in about 25th place when I got the baton and I couldn’t see anyone in front of me.
I reached the mile in 5:40 which was a bit of a shock; I was hoping to run 6:00 pace. It felt quick but it also felt like a pace that was within my ability. I caught a few people over the next flat mile which I ran in 5:49. At that point the course gets a bit tough with a one mile stretch that climbs 80’. After the climb it’d be all downhill to the finish line. I worked the hill as hard as I could and passed the third mile in 6:04. As I crested the hill Dan drove by in my car and noted that Scott Anderson (Whirlaway) was about 100 meters behind me. Damn! With nearly 2 miles to go I could picture him flying by me as I ran out of gas down the stretch. I tried to relax and just keep rolling along. The 80’ of downhill certainly helped and I ran the fourth mile in 5:40. I kept thinking “hold it together to Broadway then try to kick”. Broadway (Route 28) in Lawrence was one of the two turns you had to take over the last 4 miles of the course, so it’d also be a good place to sneak a peek. I took the turn and was afraid to look thinking that would just energize Anderson if he thought I was in trouble. I hit the final straight toward the finish and kept pushing for that final ¼ mile. I never heard Anderson as I crossed the line in 27:31 (5:47 pace).
I could not have been happier with the time. I ran very nearly the same pace as I’d run over the summer at the USATF 5 mile championships, which was a major surprise. The other big surprise was our team taking the win in the 50+. In all we ran within 7 seconds of the time we predicted! We finished 38 seconds ahead of Whirlaway which ended up getting disqualified for not having enough runners (you have to run 5 different people).
My history at Mill Cities
Date Leg Dist Time Pace Team Notes
12-06-87 4 9.6 48.05 5:01 GLRR Very cold day, took it out in 14:40 for first 3 miles
12-04-88 2 6.6 33:30 5:05 GLRR? I think I was on the GLRR “B” team
12-02-90 4 9.6 48:23 5:02 WCRC Mike Beeman’s Total Sports All-Star team
12-06-92 5 4.6 22:09 4:49 WCRC Mike Beeman’s Total Sports All-Star team redux
12-04-94 3 2.3 11:29 5:00 Dave’s Dave Camire’s All-Star team (everyone named “Dave”)
12-08-02 4 9.3 54:10 5:49 Rogue Runners
12-05-04 4 9.4 54:35 5:48 WCRC First time on a Masters team
12-03-06 4 9.4 55:19 5:53 WCRC
12-08-13 2 4.75 28:58 6:06 GCS
12-07-14 4 9.5 55:40 5:52 GCS First time on a Senior team
12-06-15 5 4.75 27:31 5:47 GCS Winning Senior team!
2015 50+ Teams
Div Pl Place Time Team Name Club Leg 1 Leg 2 Leg 3 Leg 4 Leg 5
1 19 2:44:53 50 ROCK GCS JEFF HUNT JOHN DALTON BILL NEWSHAM ERNIE BRAKE DAVE DUNHAM
DQ 20 2:45:31 WHIRLAWAY SENIOR MEN WRT MIKE COONEY CRAIG FRAM JOHN GORMAN DOUG MARTYN SCOTT ANDERSON
2 26 2:49:35 SMOKING ACES WCRC RICK WALSH MIKE LEONARD MIKE MCCORMICK DAN VERRINGTON TODD GERRISH
3 30 2:50:16 OLD FIT FARTS AARC DAN DIPIRO PETE MADDEN CRAIG ALQUIST TIM ROY ANDY NOVIS
4 31 2:51:03 GRONKIN' ON THE RIVER GLRR DOUG COOK BILL DUMONT FIL FARIA EJ HRYNOWSKI KEITH O'BRIEN
5 40 2:54:50 THE BOMB SQUAD NMC JOHN PAJER CHRIS BARRY STEVE PENNEY DAVE AUDET JEFF GOULD
6 51 2:59:07 SRR- WOLFGANG & GARFUNKEL SRR JAMES SULLIVAN DAVID OLDHAM MICHAEL QUINN WOLFGANG KETTERLE OLD SEAN MCDONOUGH
7 57 3:00:50 GLRR ROAG RUNNERS GLRR JOHN LAWLOR DAVID KATZ SCOTT GRAHAM NORMAN KIM PETER FLOSS
8 73 3:11:04 MAGIC 8-BALL MVS PAUL ONEIL CHRIS MARSHALL MARK DONEGAN DON CHAPELLE JOSEPH OSBORNE
9 77 3:11:43 GRUMPY OLD MEN GCS JOHN SINGELAIS BRUCE CONTI STEVE DELAHUNTY JEREMIAH FITZGIBBON JOHN SAUNDERS
10 93 3:18:05 WICKED FAST OLD GUYS WRC T.R. RAMSDELL TIM CLARK RICH TOMLINS RICK MARCIANO BRUCE CAMPBELL
11 98 3:19:35 ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN GDTC KEN MARTIN BOB DOLAN JIM PETERS JOHN WARRINGTON PAT GARRETT
12 101 3:21:56 STILL RUNNING AT 55 GAC PETER COPELAS ED WOGAN MARTY SULLIVAN DAN HEALY MATT GILLIGAN
13 106 3:25:23 WARRIOR DASH WCRC STEVE IOLA SCOTT WALSH RICH COLLINS DAVE CARROLL TOM CROSS
14 153 3:43:43 SHAMROCK FOF SRC MARK REDDY TIM MULRENAN KEVIN LONERGAN DIRK SLAGMOLEN DAVID AHERN
15 156 3:44:51 0 TO 27 IN 3 1/2 HOURS SQRR THAXTER, CHARLIE MUZZI, MARK LOWENSTEIN, FRANK RUSSELL, CHRIS SIMEONE, BOB
16 209 4:05:44 4 THORNS AND A ROSE GDTC LYNN WILES MICHELLE PELLERIN JIM MOFFATT GARY GIROLIMON BILL MANNING