I’d raced at Sleepy Hollow twice before (2012 & 2014) and was a bit nervous about doing it this year. Downhill running is not good for my arthritic ankles, but the Mountain series beckons and I find it hard to resist the Sirens song.
A few of the CMS guys were hanging out in the parking lot so we all headed out for an easy 2 miles to check out the final part of the course. We went out 1 mile, I noted the spot, and then we returned over the last mile of the 6.4 mile race. This was the first year they’d modified the course (now in its fifth year). We’d have a tough 1 mile climb to the highest point on the course followed by a mile downhill (the steepest roughest downhill of the race). After that we’d climb back to the high point via a new longer trail. Once over the top we’d be running the same final 2.5 miles that we’d done in the past.
After the short warm-up, I switched into my Inov-8 trail shoes and headed out for another easy mile. Conditions were really good, probably as good as you can get. No rain, but heavy clouds and a sprinkle now-and-again along with temps in the upper 40’s. Awesome for racing on the trails! Nearly 250 runners took to the starting line and it seemed like most of them sprinted out in front of me over the first ¼ mile.
The first ½ mile climbed 300’ which took some of the oomph out of the quick starters. I steadily moved through and by the ½ mile turn onto single-track found myself just outside of the top 25. We continued up for another ¼ mile and topped out at the appropriately named “Adirondack View” some 400’ above the starting line. I was very cautious on the big downhill (1 mile dropping 463’). I was passed by at least 5 guys and about ½ way down I caught teammate Erik Vandendries (he is a very strong climber, both on foot and on bike). The mile was reached in 8:08 and 2 miles in 14:40. Just before 2 miles we started the long climb. This had been my strongest part in years past, but I was not “feeling it” today. I caught up to Brian Ruhm (GCS 50+) and Eli Enman (GMAA) and kept my head up looking for more 50+ age group runners ahead of me. Enman pulled away as I slowly got away from Ruhm.
I spotted Ed Sheldon (50+) a bit ahead and slowly reeled him in. After I passed him Erik V caught and passed me. This long tough 1.5 mile section climbed over 500’ and by 3.5 miles we were back on top of the Adirondack View. There was a new part leading up to the top that featured a bunch of switchbacks. I’m better at long steady grinding climbs, not so much these type of climbs where you have to shift gears a lot. I enjoyed being able to see the line of guys not too far in front of me (and didn’t enjoy quite as much seeing the line of guys not too far BEHIND me). I reached the 3 mile mark in 22:51 (8:11) and was looking forward to the second big downhill.
I passed Erik V again as we started the downhill on single-track, it then opened up onto some very fast grass road. The 300’ drop was quick and I don’t have that extra gear. I felt I ran pretty well but the guys in front of me steadily disappeared from sight. This was the first time in the race that I was running alone. I was pretty sure there was at least one 50+ runner ahead of me and I knew the other guys I’d passed earlier were not that far behind. I passed through the finishing field with 2 miles to go and a couple of guys just in sight in front of me. I’d moved up to 21st place and was thinking “If I can stay ahead of Erik through the last climb I should be able to beat him”.
The ½ mile of climb had 255’ of climb and it really hurt. I closed on the two guys in front of me and got to within 5 seconds of Jeff Walker (Dirigo 50+) at the top of the climb (5 miles in 38:35). The final part of the race was almost all on wide grassy road with 240’ of drop over ¾ mile. I just couldn’t get my legs turning over, I was flat-out and running out of steam. Teammate Jim Pawlicki came flying by with another guy with just over a half-mile to go. Jim gave me a pat on the back as he went by but I had no response. I took a glance back and could see Erik was closing the gap. The 30’ hill with a ¼ mile to go almost brought me to a standstill but I managed to hang on finishing in 23rd place (2nd in the 50+) in 50:03. Our team had a good day, placing four in the top 7 overall and the top two in the 40+ along with 2nd and 3rd in the 50+. We swept the team categories winning the open, 40+, and 50+.
Next up in the USATF NE Mountain series = Wachusett Mountain on 05-28.
1 43:03 Brandon Newbould M34 Open Nottingham, NH WRT
2 44:08 Matthew Veiga M29 Open Lynn, MA CMS
3 44:35 Tristan Williams M30 Open Jackson, NH
4 44:39 Tim Van orden M48 40-49 Bennington, VT CMS
5 45:22 Christopher Mateer M25 Open Center Valley, PA
6 45:46 Todd Callaghan M46 40-49 Beverly, MA CMS
7 46:23 Andy McCarron M33 Open Keene, NH CMS
8 46:40 Matthew Zanchi M26 Open Somerville, MA
9 47:03 Kurt Hackler M39 Open Alstead, NH
10 47:49 Brett Mustrangelo M24 Open Keene, NH
11 48:26 Bryce Murdick M19 U20 Falmouth, ME
12 48:28 Binney Mitchell M47 40-49 Burlington, VT GMAA
13 48:40 Eli Enman M39 Open Huntington, VT GMAA
14 48:44 Emlyn Jones M28 Open Craftsbury Common, VT
15 48:47 Vincent Lyon M27 Open Dover, NH
16 48:50 Eric Darling M43 40-49 Shelburne, VT GMAA
17 48:59 Steve Brightman M47 40-49 Providence, RI
18 49:24 Chris Chromczak M31 Open Delmar, NY
19 49:42 Sean Gavaghan M29 Open Albany, NY
20 49:46 Adam St Germain M32 Open Burlington, VT GMAA
21 49:48 Jeff Walker M50 50-59 Falmouth, ME Dirigo
22 49:52 James Pawlicki M41 40-49 Lynn, MA CMS
23 50:03 Dave Dunham M52 50-59 Bradford, MA CMS
24 50:07 Erik Vandendries M51 50-59 Chestnut Hill, MA CMS
25 50:12 Adam Bulakowski M38 Open Essex, VT
43 54:28 Leslie O'Dell F40 40-49 Albany, NH CMS
58 57:42 David Lapierre M52 50-59 Chelmsford, MA CMS
80 1:01:57 Robert Thomas M56 50-59 Charlton, MA CMS
138 1:10:23 Mary Sharkey F66 60-69 Grosvenordale,CT CMS
180 1:20:05 Walter Kuklinski M67 60-69 Princeton, MA CMS
202 1:23:59 Annie Ryan F59 50-59 Florence MA CMS
1 CMS Mopen 467.14
2 aR Mopen 348.74
3 NMC Mopen 326.25
1 CMS M40+ 276.78
2 GMAA M40+ 236.23
3 aR M40+ 225.15
4 NMC M40+ 213.29
5 GCS M40+ 180.02
1 CMS M50+ 246.53
2 NMC M50+ 213.29
3 aR M50+ 199.89
4 GCS M50+ 180.02