I didn’t have much in the way of expectations going into the Loon Mountain race. I’d raced 32+ miles the week before and my nagging glute/hip issue left me running very slowly during the week. I want to run all of the Mountain series races this year so I figured worst case I’d just show up and run through it. I set things up so that I would not be tempted to race (and maybe make my hip a lot worse) by leaving only 7 miles to reach my 80 mile weekly limit. That meant no warm-up, which would definitely help me to start out slowly.
Dave La and I met up and got the 100+ mile drive done pretty easily. Although this is a fairly long drive for a race it is probably the easiest drive for any of the races in the Mountain series. We got our numbers and took care of business before changing into flats. I wanted the best traction I could get as the torrential rains of the previous day had left the course wet and washed out in places. After checking out Ed Sheldon’s funky 3-wheel motorcycle I headed out for a half-mile walk to loosen up. I felt pretty good, certainly no pressure. I decided I’d go very easy on the flat and downhill parts and run as hard as possible on any uphill (as long as my hip didn’t protest).
Nearly 500 lined up for the 12th annual race that is known for getting progressively more difficult as the miles go by. I went out relaxed and was well out of the top 100 as we started climbing the cat-track. I was one of the first people to take the by-pass onto the grass (which was allowed) thus avoiding the seriously washed out section of dirt road. When I got back on the road I’d passed a lot of people. A bunch went flying by me on the short downhill, but I passed quite a few of them as we climbed to the entrance to the “Nordic” section of the race. I was pretty nervous about this part as it is always muddy and I was really concerned about slipping and making my hip worse. This nearly 2 mile section has a little up and down but nothing killer. I lost about a dozen spots as I cautiously navigated the potholes and slick bridges (in all I ran over 2 minutes slower for that 2 miles than I did in 2016). At just after 3 miles we were back on the cat-track and a short tough climb. There was a line of guys in front of me and I was ready to start climbing. That short climb helped a little but then we dropped across the face of the mountain and I lost a few more places.
The part of the course I always enjoy was next. The “Grass hill” is a very difficult ½ mile climb, not as bad as the Upper Walking boss but the first real kick in the side that tells you whether this will be a good day or not. I passed at least 15 guys on this part as I ran the whole way and most were power-walking (or just walking). I lost a little ground on the short downhill after that but then started reeling people in on the cat-track climb to the Gondola. I saw Brian Ruhm (GCS) up ahead. We had a good battle at the road 5m two weeks ago (he outkicked me). I caught him during the climb then looked up ahead to where teammates Erik Vandendries and Kevin Tilton were running together.
I reached the Gondola feeling pretty good and proceeded to run my slowest ever split for the downhill to the base of the Upper Walking boss. This ½ mile of 15% grade is usually a spot to “air it out” but not this year (it was my slowest time by 27 seconds). I lost some ground on Kevin and Erik and got passed just before the turn onto the BOSS. I was looking forward to the brutal kilometer (.62) climb that has an average grade of 27%! I ran most of it, but the upper part was really chewed up and there was a section where I was using my hands to claw my way up. Crazy fun! I passed 10 people on the Upper Walking Boss and held onto my place on the final ½ mile of downhill, crossing the line in 22nd. I was surprised to find after the race that I’d gotten 2nd in the 50+ and that my time on the UWB was third fastest for the day. Mostly I was just glad that I made it through without making my hip any worse. Now some time without a race on the calendar!
|Scott Mason shot of me on the UWB|
Loon Mountain Race
Lincoln, NH 07/02/2017
1 Noah Hoffman 27 M West Lebanon NH 57:22
2 Brandon Newbould 35 M Nottingham NH WRT 59:02
3 Stephen Pretak 32 M Fort Collins CO 59:37
4 Justin Freeman 40 M New Hampton NH 1:00:26
5 Patrick Caron 20 M Needham MA 1:00:47
Top CMS finishers
8 Todd Callaghan 47 M Beverly MA 1:02:18
9 Tim Van Orden 49 M Bennington VT 1:03:38
16 Matthew Veiga 30 M Lynn MA 1:07:17
19 Steve Brightman 48 M Providence RI 1:07:51
22 Dave Dunham 53 M Bradford MA 1:09:27
24 Erik Vandendries 52 M Chestnut Hill MA 1:10:01
27 Kevin Tilton 35 M Conway NH 1:11:16
Top 50+ Finishers
1/64 M50-59 Jim Boule 50 M Campton NH acidiotic RACING 1:05:35
2/64 M50-59 Dave Dunham 53 M Bradford MA Central Mass Striders 1:09:27
3/64 M50-59 Erik Vandendries 52 M Chestnut Hill MA Central Mass Striders 1:10:01
4/64 M50-59 Brian Ruhm 52 M Nashua NH Gate City Striders 1:11:07
To the Grass climb
To the 180
Climb to Gondola
Down to UWB
Upper Walking Boss
Once more into the brink