I met up with Dave La in Andover and we covered the 200 miles in a little over 3 hours. The time went by pretty easily as we had good tunes and D-La read (out loud) interesting articles from the Wall Street Journal. Our early arrival gave us time to pick up our numbers and then meet up with Paul Baz for an easy “stroll” to nearly the top of the first climb. Paul hadn’t run Sleepy before and this helped him get a handle on what to expect, it also gave us a chance to see how wet the course would be. I was a bit shocked at how DRY the course was, it looked to be great conditions for racing with the solid footing and temperatures in the upper 40’s. It felt like a good day for Cross-country racing and Sleepy could be classified as EXTREME cross-country.
Baz and I met up with Erik V and did a nice easy warm-up out & back over the last mile of the course. It is ALWAYS a good idea to see the final mile if nothing else, it makes sense to have some perspective on what is left when you may not have much left in the tank. After the warm-up I switched into Inov-8 race flats and headed out for another mile (while it lightly hailed!) . I felt pretty lousy. I’d been sick for the last three weeks and had a bad headache when I woke up on race morning. I came close to tossing my breakfast (bagel & coffee) but held onto it.
It was pretty cool to see that the race capped at 250 and reached the max a week before (and let a few more in to have about 270 on race day). I figured since I was 23rd last year I could line up on the start line as I hoped for a top 20 finish this year. I had to encourage everyone else to move up, funny how people hover 10 feet behind the line afraid to get right up there. Off we went!
It always seems like people go out a bit too hard at Sleepy (or maybe I need time to get rolling?), but dang it went out hard. I could see teammate Matt Veiga out in front right away, I thought he was taking a shot at the “King of the Hill” award for the first person to the top of the first climb. I scouted who was ahead of me, looking for my fellow 50+ (Senior) age group runners. I did a quick count and saw that I was in 25th place and Erik V, Ed Sheldon, and Jim Boule (aR) were climbing well. Erik was coming off of torn knee cartilage and I knew he’d be tentative on the downhills. Ed was going to be tough, we were back and forth in the series last year and he is kicking my ass on the roads right now. I don’t really know Jim Boule, but recalled that he had a solid run at Cranmore and Loon last year and had since turned 50.
The first climb is a bit of a shock to the system (400’ feet of climb over .7 miles). I caught the first woman just before the single-track started and kept my eyes on my fellow Senior runners. I was looking forward to the downhill hoping to eat into their lead. I passed Erik early on in the descent and got a couple of other guys as well. I was surprised by the water-stop at a little after a mile, a nice bonus but I didn’t need it on this comfortable weather day. The 500’ of drop over .9 miles definitely rattled my bones, but nothing broke or fell off so that was good. By the bottom (1.6 miles) I was in the top 20 and 10 seconds behind Ed with Jim in-between us. As we started the biggest sustained climb of the day (1.6 miles with 500+ feet of climb) reality sunk in for a few in front of me. I saw a couple of guys walking (which at times may be faster than running). I caught up with Isaac St. Martin who I’d run with a few weeks back at the Merrimack River trail race. We’d work together the rest of the race, slowly picking guys off.
I forgot about the descent during the second climb, you drop about 100 feet from 2 – 2.5 miles with a few bumps thrown in. Then the final long .7 stretch to the same summit we’d been on at the top of climb #1. I like this stretch, no thinking just keep chugging away. I got Jim right before the switchback section and Ed soon after. The switchbacks are great since you can see the competition without having to look back (and give away the fact that you are worried about what they are doing). By the top of the climb I had a few seconds on Jim and a few more on Ed. I was looking forward to the second big descent, a 500’ drop from 3.3 to 4.6 miles. Most of this was on a wide forest road which was very run-able. My mantra the entire way down was “easy, easy” but it was also “speed up, speed up” somehow I didn’t feel they were contradictory. Oddly I’m a better downhill runner (relatively) than a climber. Back in the day (the 1990s) I picked up a silver medal at the World Mountain running championships and that was in and up/down year. Anyway, my body doesn’t like the downhills but you gotta go with your strengths so I pushed as much as I dared. I took a peek as we looped the finishing field and could see Jim was not far behind.
I could see teammate Steve Brightman up ahead and focused on closing the gap. The final climb (300 feet over ½ mile) is TOUGH. The single-track is rough and by this point everyone is getting tired (well, at least I was tired). I closed a little on Steve and Vin Lyon but never really got that close. Last year I had a freight train of guys go barreling by me on the final descent (300’ over .8) and was hoping to avoid that. I took a look back with ½ mile to go and Isaac said something to the effect of “they are not in sight”. I pushed the final little uphill and was able to forge a scant 2 second advantage over Isaac by the finish line. I was surprised to see a 48 on the clock, last year I’d run just over 50 minutes, so a 2 minute improvement was a bit of a happy surprise. Finishing in the top 10 was also a happy surprise.
CMS had a great day at Sleepy Hollow with teams topping five of the six categories! Leslie O’Dell topped the women’s field (and the 40+ age group) and Mary Sharkey was 2nd in the 60+. On the men’s side Matt Veiga was 3rd overall, Tim Van Orden topped the 40+ age group (4th place overall) and Steve Brighman was 4th in the 40+ (8th place overall), we went 1, 3, 4 in the 50+ age group, Paul Bazanchuk scored a four minute victory in the 60+ age group.
Men Open 40+ 50+CMS 448.40 CMS 268.94 CMS 253.38GMAA 405.94 GMAA 242.72 NMC 205.32aR 324.19 NMC 205.32 aR 199.26NMC 302.73 aR 199.26Women Open 40+ 50+CMS 243.83 CMS 243.83 aR 213.48aR 234.27 aR 213.80 NMC 200.35NMC 200.35 NMC 200.35Pl Time Name Sex AGE City, ST USATF CLUB1 41:39.5 Brandon Newbould M 35 Nottingham, NH WRT2 42:39.1 Chris Mateer M 26 Philadelphia, PA3 43:43.0 Matthew Veiga M 30 Lynn, MA CMS4 43:58.2 Tim Van Orden M 48 Bennington, VT CMS5 44:26.7 Kurt Hackler M 40 Alstead, NH6 44:31.6 Eli Enman M 40 Huntington, VT7 46:15.5 Matthew Zanchi M 27 Somerville, MA8 47:28.7 Steve Brightman M 48 Providence, RI CMS9 47:41.4 Vincent Lyon M 28 Dover, NH10 48:11.0 Dave Dunham M 53 Bradford, MA CMS11 48:13.5 Isaac St. Martin M 37 Manchester, NH12 48:30.3 Jim Boule M 50 Campton , NH aR13 49:29.8 Ed Sheldon M 52 Hooksett , NH CMS14 49:35.3 Peter Teixeira M 21 Holden, MA15 49:51.6 Adam Bulakowski M 39 Essex, VT GMAA16 50:01.2 Joshua Burns M 31 Burlington, VT17 50:05.2 Michael Perkins M 37 Concord, NH18 50:11.6 James Donegan M 37 Hinesburg, VT19 50:12.0 Luke Nugent M 29 Greenfield, MA20 50:20.3 Erik Vandendries M 52 Chestnut Hill, MA CMSCMS finishers33 52:40.5 Leslie O'Dell F 41 Albany, NH CMS42 54:05.1 Paul Bazanchuk M 62 Center Conway, NH CMS98 103:26.8 David Lapierre M 53 Chelmsford, MA CMS123 1:06:56.8 Robert Thomas M 57 Charlton, MA CMS130 1:07:44.2 John Martin M 64 hyannis, MA CMS136 1:07:59.8 Rich Miller M 66 barnstead, NH CMS168 1:11:35.2 Barbara McManus F 49 Rutland, MA CMS184 1:14:59.1 Mary Sharkey F 67 Grosvenordale, CT CMS218 1:20:08.7 Kimberly Gordon F 35 Rutland, MA CMS241 1:32:22.2 Walter Kuklinski M 68 Princeton, MA CMS50+Div Place Place Time FIRST NAME LAST NAME Sex AGE CITY STATE USATF CLUB1 10 48:11.0 Dave Dunham M 53 Bradford MA CMS2 12 48:30.3 Jim Boule M 50 Campton NH aR3 13 49:29.8 Ed Sheldon M 52 Hooksett NH CMS4 20 50:20.3 Erik Vandendries M 52 Chestnut Hill MA CMS5 27 51:38.6 Jack Pilla M 58 Charlotte VT GMAA6 39 53:33.3 Stephen Reed M 58 concord NH7 41 54:02.6 Jeff Shedd M 53 Burlington VT8 53 57:22.8 Rick Chalmers M 55 South Portland ME Dirigo9 55 58:01.7 Michael Urquiola M 50 Melrose MA GBTC10 58 58:13.6 Jon Williamson M 51 Montpelier VT11 74 59:22.5 Jeff Gould M 52 Gardner MA NMC12 76 1:00:00.8 Todd Brown M 53 Rocky Hill CT NMC13 88 1:02:06.5 Lennie Schmidt M 50 norwood MA14 90 1:02:31.6 Mike Caron M 50 Pocasset MA15 94 1:03:07.3 Ernesto Mendoza M 50 Gloucester MA16 98 1:03:26.8 David Lapierre M 53 Chelmsford MA CMS