Tuesday, July 12, 2016


I definitely felt a let-down after the Loon Mountain race.  I’d spent the last 6 months thinking about Loon and planning out the race, with the championship now over there was a definite relief.  Add to that, the level of soreness I had post-Loon and my apprehension at doing up/down race all meant I was at best ill-prepared for Cranmore.  This would be the 11th time racing at Cranmore and every year has featured a different course.  I only took a brief look at the course map so I wasn’t entirely sure of where we’d go.  My only real plan was to be conservative on the first loop and don’t get hurt on the descents.

It was foggy and only about 60 degrees when I arrived in North Conway.  After picking up my number I headed out for an easy 3 miles on the roads and then switched into my Inov-8 racing flats for another ¾ mile.  Teammate Matt Veiga gave me the scoop on the course (he’d previewed it the day before), Matt was looking to repeat as champion and it looked like his main competition would be Tim Van Orden (also CMS).  I wasn’t sure who would be the competition in the 50+, but all of the familiar characters were present.  It would come down to who could descend well and who had something left for the second loop.

Nearly 200 of us took off in the drizzle and fog of a not typical July morning.  I counted a dozen guys in front of me as we started the climb.  Matt Veiga took it out very hard and was running alone right away.  I had teammates Erik Vandenries and Ed Sheldon in my sight a few steps ahead.  Steve Brightman took it out hard and was up in the top few with TiVO.  Chris Smith (SRR) roared by me 400 meters in.  I slowly got into a groove as we hit the first steeper pitch and caught a couple of guys.  The course had twists and turns and all kinds of terrain (grass, single track, cat-track, slick rock).  There was a false summit at about 6/10ths of a mile in.  The grade “eased” to just 7% before we turned the corner to the BIG climb.

I looked up and said “F—k me!” this would be one of the meanest sections of climb I’d ever done.  Only a quarter of a mile but it would climb 400’.  It took me 5:05 to do that climb.  I power-walked most of it, trying to not use up too much energy knowing I’d need to do it again.  I passed a couple of guys and got very close to Erik V.  I was surprised to see Jim Boule (Acidotic) up ahead, he is an “old” master at age 49 and will be a force to be reckoned with when he enters the senior age group.  I passed Erik on the first little downhill then he went by me as we returned to climbing to the summit building.  There was a tricky wet rock part right at the top that I nearly wiped out on.  After that we had a short down on cat-track where I went past Erik.  I checked my watch at the cell tower (18:19) so I’d have some indication for the second lap how I was doing.

The downhill wasn’t bad, I was worried about lousy foot and wet rock but for the most part it was good enough footing.  I passed Boule on a ski slope, there were some crazy zig-zags where you basically had to come to a stop to turn (at least I did).  That moved me up to fourth place.  I didn’t press but ran as hard as I dared.  About half-way down Christopher Chromczak went flying by and a few seconds later Patrick Caron.  Caron noted “Wow, that guy can descend” as he took off out of site.  I held position to the bottom feeling pretty good.  I went through the first loop in 28:38 (10:19 for the drop).  Chromczak had put a minute on me and Caron was 30 seconds ahead.  Thanks to the little loop at the bottom I could see that Josh Merlis (ARE), Boule, and Brightman were right behind me (6, 14, and 19 seconds respectively).  I didn’t panic, there was a lot of running left to do.

I could hear either Merlis or Boule breathing hard behind me but dared not look.  I tried to keep a steady pace and focus on the guys up ahead.  The second time up the killer quarter mile (I did it in 5-flat) I was working it a LOT harder than the first lap.  I really wanted to catch Chromczak and Caron who were coming back fast.  I got Chromczak but never quite caught Caron.  Once started the downhill he went flying by noting “finally some downhill” as he disappeared from sight.  I reached the cell tower in 47:17 (18:39 compared to my 18:19 from the first lap).  I was happy about the split but even happier that I only had a little over 10 minutes to go and it would all be downhill. 

Nothing much changed on the second descent, I was cautious but also kept Caron in sight.  We were lapping some people now which meant a little extra caution.  You almost needed a headlamp in some of the glade running where it got very dark.  I managed to stay on my feet and hold position to take 6th place in 57:37 (5.85 miles with 2,400’ of climb/descent).  My second descent was 10:20, so only 1 second slower than the first time and my second lap was only 21 seconds slower than my first.  This was probably the best Cranmore course I’ve ever run.  By best I mean it had just about everything you could want in an up/down Mountain race.  Although the up/down really isn’t my style of racing it turned out to be pretty enjoyable.  Also, as I crossed the line they were playing Social Distortion (99 to life) and the next song was the Cure (Fascination street), no race is going to top that!

Top 10 50+
50+      Pl          Time     Name                Age       City       State     Team
1          6          57:37    Dave Dunham    52         Bradford, MA      CMS
2          12         1:00:37 Brian Ruhm        51         Nashua, NH        GCS
3          14         1:00:52 Ed Sheldon        51         Hooksett, NH      CMS
4          18         1:01:48 Erik Vandendries 51         Chestnut Hill, MA CMS
5          20         1:04:01 Rick Chalmers     54         S Portland, ME    Dirigo
6          21         1:04:10 Christopher Smith           50         Woburn, MA       SRR
7          30         1:08:42 Richard Fargo     57         Plainville, CT     
8          43         1:12:18 Carl Murphy        50         Hudson, NH       
9          44         1:12:43 Todd Brown        52        Rocky Hill, CT     NMC
10         62         1:16:39 Christopher Shipley 53     Brentwood, NH  

Place     Time     Name                            Age       City, State          Team
1          53:06    Matthew Veiga                29         Lynn, MA            CMS
2          53:55    Tim Van Orden               48         Bennington, VT   CMS
3          54:20    Andy MacGibbon             20         Goffstown, NH   
4          56:02    Christopher Chromczak    31         Delmar, NY       
5          57:10    Patrick Caron                  19                     MA       
6          57:37    Dave Dunham                52         Bradford, MA      CMS
7          58:39    Craig Nale                      32         S Portland, ME   
8          58:51    Steve Brightman             47         Providence, RI   
9          59:23    Patrick Conway               39         Anchorage, AK   
10         59:43    Jim Boule                       49         Campton, NH      aR
11         1:00:20 William Jackson              34         Salem, MA         CMS
12         1:00:37 Brian Ruhm                    51         Nashua, NH        GCS
13         1:00:46 Josh Merlis                     34         Albany, NY         ARE
14         1:00:52 Ed Sheldon                    51         Hooksett, NH      CMS
15         1:01:07 Steven Dungan               26         Richmond, VA    
16         1:01:31 Josh Flanagan                37         Jackson, NH      
17         1:01:34 Michael Narcisi               32         Acton, MA          Sisu
18         1:01:48 Erik Vandendries             51         Chestnut Hill, MA CMS
19         1:03:58 Bruce Christiansen          48         Bolton, CT         
20         1:04:01 Rick Chalmers                 54         S Portland, ME    Dirigo
21         1:04:10 Christopher Smith                       50         Woburn, MA       SRR
22         1:05:24 Leslie O'Dell                   40         Albany, NH         CMS
23         1:05:33 Kevin Alliette                  35         Methuen, MA      WRT
24         1:05:39 Scot Holt                                    47         N Woodstock, NH           
25         1:06:18 Christopher Bustard         27         Cambridge, MA  


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