Monday, July 13, 2009

2009 Ascutney Mountain Run

Late Update (with splits): Sunday was race #35 of the year and the scene of the crime was Ascutney Mountain at Mt. Ascutney State Park in VT. This was the 9th Annual Ascutney Mountain Race (results) but this year, they changed the course dramatically. Previously, the race was 3.8 miles all up the auto road, to the parking lot near the summit. It mirrored as closely as you can get, about 1/2 of Mount Washington. This year, they veered you off the auto road only 2.3 miles up, and had the last 1.7 over VERY technical single track trail. It was more of a 1.7 mile scramble over rocks, through mud and across a couple of streams....up some stone stairs, and across many switchbacks with trails sometimes about 6 inches across before steep edges of rocky cliffs that would send you plummeting back down into the woods (I know, I went over the side twice). In a nutshell, it was two extremes in one race...a hybrid of auto road and single track bushwhack trail, that made for an interesting race for sure.

I headed across NH to VT starting at 6:30am. I arrived after a very nice drive, with almost zero cars on the road, in only about 1hr 50min. Many of the usual suspects were already there milling around. After catching up with some of the mountain folk and heading over to get my number, we got ready and headed out for a nice warm up down VT route 5. We had a big warm up crew of CMS, WMM, RunningRaw, TNT, and GCS runners who were all a bit apprehensive about the course changes. Both dd and I agreed that the pre-race favorite would be Andy McCarron, who is definitely the best all around runner who toed the line. After a quick change, we all headed over to the start. The timing guys were actually worried about making it to the finish before the runners. They had to drive up to the top parking lot (where the race used to finish) and then hike .7 miles up to the actual true summit to set up the clock and finish chute. Problem is that it takes a few minutes to drive up to the top, and then 20 min or so to actually hike to the finish, carrying all the equipment. They would make it just fine (by how much I don't actually know)...

As the race went off, Tim Mahoney ran right to the front and really worked the first mile. I stayed right behind him for most of the way, with Joe Shaw, Dave Dunham, and Andy McCarron all right behind. At the one mile mark, Joe Shaw past us pretty convincingly and proclaimed something that sounded like 'that wasn't too bad' as we passed through the mile. I wasn't too worried about the splits and was just waiting to see how long it was going to take Dave and Andy to come passing by. Right after the mile (or just right before), Tim dropped back a bit and I started to push on to try to hold off dd and Andy. That wouldn't last, as dd soon came up and right past me with Andy a short distance back. I adjusted my pace a bit and stayed right behind dd and let him dictate pace. For the next mile, we stayed together, with him one step ahead, and it looked like we were starting to reel in Joe who had built up a decent lead. As we hit the trail, we were maybe 10-15 seconds back of Joe and dd turned to me and said 'after you' and pointed to the trail. I immediately declined the offer, as I wasn't feeling that great after the 2.3 mile non-stop uphill climb. As we ducked into the woods, I immediately felt held up behind Dave and got nervous that Joe would start to run away. I figured that I should at least try to catch him on the flatter trail sections before it started to get steep, and if dd caught me again, so be it...but at least I would have tried... So after about a minute, I yelled up to Dave that I was going to come by and he obliged. I shot past and went right after Joe. It took maybe a half mile or so to catch up to him and I ran behind him for a bit before shooting past him on a section where he had stopped to power hike. Both him and I were power hiking on and off quite a bit but I was able to get past him and continuously build up a lead. At this point, I will say four major things about the 'trail'... It was ROCKY, WET, STEEP, and actually well marked. I didn't have any navigational problems, and there were a couple of volunteers out there at the intersections, but the footing was brutal. I used my Inov-8 f-lite 230s, which worked really well, but no shoe can help you if you fall off the trail and slide down the side of the mountain, which happened to me on two separate occasions. In one section where the trail is about a foot wide before sliding straight down, I slipped off and had to hold on to rocks with my hands and pull myself back on...the first one scared the living daylights out of me...the second one was laughable because, well, it was the second one. As I approached the top, I started to notice the woods getting brighter and more sunlight showing through...a good indication that there isn't much more ahead... I asked a couple of volunteers as I approached and they told me how much was left...this helped motivate me to try to grind up the stone steps and wet rock to the top. In the end, I got up to the summit in 1st place, in a time of 37:26. Andy McCarron came rolling up in 2nd place, just 42 seconds back (which, for this trail is not too far back), and Dave Dunham came through in 3rd place. Joe dropped back to 4th, but finished up strong, just ahead of Todd Callaghan (5th).

Top 10 plus CMS finishers in blue:

1 37:26 9:22Jim Johnson 32Salem NH
2 38:08 9:32Andy McCarron 26Keene NH
3 38:43 9:41Dave Dunham 45Bradford MA
439:039:46Joe Shaw 28Grantham NH
539:569:59Todd Callaghan39Somerville MA
6 40:5210:13Tim Van Orden 41Bennington VT
741:1110:18Thomas Brown23Boston Ma
841:2510:22Kasie Enman 29Huntington VT
9 41:3910:25Tim Mahoney 29Holyoke MA
10 43:2010:50Philip Mason 22North Thetford VT
11 43:5610:59James Pawlicki 34 Beverly MA
38 49:4112:26Abby Mahoney 31Holyoke MA
52 51:2412:51David Lapierre 45Chelmsford MA
1261:02:2115:36Walter Kuklinski60Princeton MA


Mile 1: 8:05
next .5: 4:29 (12:35 at 1.5M)
next .25: 2:18 (14:53 at 1.75M)
next .25: 2:06 (17:01 at 2M)
next .25: 2:29 (19:30 at 2.25M)
Mile 2.3 total time (to the trailhead): 19:56 - 8:40 pace for the road portion.
Last 1.7 on the trails: 17:30 - 10:17 pace for the trail section.

YIKES! Tough course.

With the USATF-NE Mountain series done, I don't have a finishing score, although I did quite well in the 4 races (of 6) I ran. In order to score, I needed to have run 1 more race (they take the best 5 of 6). Kind of a mistake on my part this year. I'll look to do the series next year, but being able to win both Loon and Ascutney again will probably prove to be a difficult task...

Photo to the left, after the race: L-R: Tim Mahoney, Paul Kirsch, Jim Pawlicki, JJ, Tim VanOrden, Todd Callaghan.

Kristin didn't make the trip out, but I did bring my camera and Kristen Kozlosky (Jim Pawlicki's girlfriend) was able to graciously get photos of the first crew of runners for me. After I finished, I started taking pictures of finishers. There may have been a few runners missed during the transition. I uploaded them to SmugMug. Thanks Kristen!

Kristen - photos 1-76, Jim - photos 77-419

After the race and awards, a group of us ran back down (my quads aren't too happy about that right now)... Then, a big group of us (Mahoney's, Callaghans, Tivo & Mike Menard, Jim & Kristen, Andy and his girl, and some GCS folk all headed over to the river for some food, beverages, and a soak. Good times for sure....then a 3 hour ride home in insane traffic near Concord basically wiped me out for 10 hours. This week may include Sapienza and a low key 5k on Saturday. That's all I got (taking a line from Ryan Cararra, back when he 'used to blog') ;)


  1. Sweet finish photo. Congrats on the second mtn series win. You are really tearing it up!

    How's the back?

  2. Thanks man... back is holding up pretty good...tight yesterday just a bit on the ride home... quads are the only thing bothering me just a bit today...that was entirely due to running back down after. I have NO clue how you guys managed to run down Washington...

  3. Congrats on another win! Impressive time. DD predicted a winning time of 33:00, but I guess that was before he saw the trail portion.

    I pointed a few folks to your blog for a good description of the trail portion. Personally, I would have preferred staying on the auto road.

  4. Nice job, way to pick up your second mountain win. You thinking of running the NH State Police DARE 5k at NHMS? That was my first race ever and I was thinking of doing it this year.

  5. Nice race! Congrats on another win. See you on Thursday!

  6. Nice race, JJ. Or should I say races. Hell of a weekend. Keep it up.

  7. Jim, Great way to end the series!

  8. you are riding on home ah?
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