Looking back January:
I’ve been a member of the Central Mass Striders (CMS) since January 1, 1992. On my first day as a CMS member I ran the Freezer Five, a five mile race held in Sterling MA. Larry Sayers and I ran together and tied for first place with a 24-flat. That time was (and still is) the course record. On New Year’s Day 2016 the record held up for the 24th year. This was the 35th running of the race which has been held on the same rolling course since its inception. This is among the oldest course records I have that have held up all these years.
35 years ago I started out the year with a new Billerica High school record for 2 miles (indoors) with a 9:41.6 at the Dartmouth relays. I'm not sure what the old school record was but it was held by Kevin Curtin. A week later I broke that record with a 5th place finish at the Coaches Invitational at Harvard. I ran 9:33.7 in a race won by Mike Flynn who ran 9:12. I ran two other two miles that month, both at Methuen High school and both wins. I ran 9:56 in a dual meet against Lowell and a 9:49 in a dual meet versus Wilmington
25 years ago I ran six races during January of 1991, ranging from 1 mile to 5 miles. I placed first in five of them and the other was a relay. After a 16:23 at the Fudgcicle series 5k I headed to Dartmouth and led off a 4x1mile team with Brad, Gary and Artie running 4:20, 4:30, 4:38, and 4:50 respectively. The next day I ran the open mile in 4:20.6. I returned to Tewksbury two more times running 15:59 and 16:17 and closed out the month with a victory at the Penacook Winter challenge 5m where I ran 24:53.
20 years ago I competed in six races and got five wins to kick off 1996. I started the year with a tough battle against Dan and Rob Pierce at the Hangover 10k. I didn't pull away for good until less than a mile to go and ended up with the "W" by just a few seconds (30:28). A few days later I went for a "triple" at the Dartmouth relays. I took first in the mile, 3,000, and 5,000 in 4:12, 8:44, and 15:39 respectively. Maybe that took a bit too much out of me? I suffered at the Ras Na Heiran (Race of Ireland) where I finished 20th in a very tough XC race. I closed out the month with a win at the Freeze your Bunz 5m race in Nashua in 25:41.
15 years ago Yikes, five races and five wins to kick off the new millennium. I started off with a "Rat Race" win at the Weary Traveler running 25:03 on the "short five" course. The following week I won at the South Pond Shuffle, which remains one of my favorite snowshoe races. I followed that up with a win at Greylock glen, which is the snowshoe race I've done the most times (seven). The following day I won the tough Boston Prep 16 mile in an awful snowstorm. I would have been better off racing in snowshoes! The final race of the year was a very fast snowshoe race in Stillwater NY. As I recall Robert broke his snowshoe and was disqualified.
10 years ago: I had a decent start to the month with six races but the final race had me pulling a calf muscle which put me on the sidelines. I started the month at the Hangover “Classic” in Salisbury. It was cold, blustery, and there was snow on the ground. I ran the 5k (they also offered a 10k) and took 4th place in 17:37.
A week later I doubled up on snowshoe racing taking fourth place (1:40 behind Paul Low) at the North Pond Shuffle. The next day I placed 10th at the USSSA national qualifier at Bolton Valley VT (which would be the site of the National championships). The field was strong as many wanted to take advantage of a course preview a couple of months before the “big” race. I ended up running most of the race alone and found the course to be great.
A week later I headed to Tewksbury for the Fudge series 5k. I took 3rd place 10 seconds out of second place in 17:37. Teammate Richard Bolt ran an impressive 15:44 to take the win on this rare 50 degree day. A week later I’d return to Tewksbury and take 3rd again, this time in 17:30. Bolt won again this time in an equally impressive 15:46. Teammate Ken Tripp took second in 17:06 on another 50 degree day.
My final race of the month was the Greylock Glen 5k snowshoe race. I was running along behind Ben Nephew half-way through the race when my calf “popped”. I ground it out and finished in 7th place but paid the price missing a week of running.
5 years ago: I hurt my back a few days into the new year but it turned out to be just a minor set-back as I missed just 7 days and then was able to get through four snowshoe races. I covered 198 miles over the month. I started the month off with a 2nd place finish at the Wicked Frosty Four running a 40+ personal best of 22:07. It was another three weeks before I was able to race again. For whatever reason I decided I could double up and run two snowshoe races. I headed up to Whitaker Woods (N Conway, NH) for a very fast 4 mile (29:29) that was good enough for 6th place.
1 Jim Johnson M 33 CMS 26:53
2 Judson Cake M 33 Acidotic 28:00
3 Kevin Tilton M 29 CMS 28:09
4 Tim Cox M 37 Acidotic 28:51
5 Ryan Kelly M 29 Acidotic 29:29
6 Dave Dunham M 46 CMS 29:39
The next morning I was in Lanesboro, MA for the Constitution Hill 3.7 mile. It was the total opposite of Whitaker with very heavy deep snow. I took the lead early and held it for quite a while. Then got toasted by teammates Tim Van Orden and Tim Mahoney who blew by in the last half-mile. The 3.7 took me over 42 minutes. Snow conditions really make a huge difference.
1 41:44 Tim Van Orden m 42 CMS
2 42:02 Tim Mahoney m 31 CMS
3 42:04 Dave Dunham m 46 CMS
4 42:29 Ken Clark m 48 Hartford Track Club
The following weekend I attempted another double. This time starting with a 4 mile in slow “sugar snow” at Sidehiller (Center Sandwich, NH) where I placed 6th in a field of 108 in 34:14 The field was pretty strong as this was a qualifier for the snowshoe national championships.
1 Kevin Tilton 29 Conway NH 31:47 M
2 Jim Johnson 33 Salem NH 31:53 M
3 Judson Cake 33 Bar Harbor ME 32:44 M
4 Wesley Dinnan 23 Newmarket NH 33:22 M
5 Ryan Kelly 29 Concord NH 33:59 M
6 Dave Dunham 46 Bradford MA 34:14 M
7 Charles Thierrault 25 Bristol NH 34:41 M
8 Robert Jackman 28 Warwick RI 34:42 M
9 Danny Ferreira 28 Concord NH 34:48 M
10 Scott McGrath 24 Amesbury MA 35:27 M
11 James Pawlicki 36 Beverly MA 35:41 M
The next morning I was racing another 4 mile, this time in Pittsfield at the Curly’s record run. I covered the climb really well but just couldn’t leg out the screaming descent. I ended up in third place (33:39) behind JJ and Ross Krause. CMS runners took the top 5 spots.
Curly's Record Run
1 JIM JOHNSON M33 30:56 CMS
2 ROSS KRAUSE M31 32:46 RUNREG
3 DAVE DUNHAM M46 33:35 CMS
4 TIM MAHONEY M31 34:09 CMS
5 TIM VAN ORDEN M42 34:37 CMS