Monday, July 6, 2009

Sully's 2 Mile and Loon Mountain Race

Jam packed weekend...2 races, lots of travelling, lots of bbq's attended in between, lots of 'no thank you, I've got a race tomorrow' responses to offers of drinks, burgers, etc. Did I still have a good time? Absolutely.


Saturday morning I decided to head over to Chelmsford, MA to run Sullys 2 Mile (results), which I ran once before, in 2007, when I first started running/racing again. This year, I figured I could do this race as a fun workout before Loon, and maybe, if I felt good, run a quick 2 mile for these 32 year old legs without much effort... I warmed up with Jim St. Pierre and Titus Mutinda before toeing the line in what is usually a reckless and frenzied first quarter mile. I laced up the trusty Inov-8 f-lite 230's and headed over to the line for some 'ahem'...strides and stretching....

As the gun went off, I immediately felt pretty terrible...The closest thing to this I've done would be the many 5k's I do, but this one is a bit different, as each year a lot of younger kids like to get up on the starting line and right in front of bigger, faster runners who end up running them over as soon as the gun goes off... Like last time, I had to run around and through a bunch of little tikes to get into a good spot near the lead pack... but the weird thing about this year was the lack of a lead was immediately strung out almost exactly like how the finishing order would be... I settled in, in about 7th or 8th place or so and just tried to keep the wheels on. I haven't done much if anything as far as speed work goes, and it showed. I hit the first half mile in 2:19 and it felt awful. DD told me that the first half was off...that could be the case, as my second half mile was 2:31, which took me through the first mile in 4:50. I wanted 4:45ish to try to salvage a 9:30, so I knew a fast time was out the door, as there was still another rolling mile to go..My third half mile was 2:24 which brought me through the 1.5 mark in 7:14. By this time I had passed a couple guys including Titus Mutinda (R.UN) and got passed by a couple other younger guys... I was thinking Loon on Sunday, the entire race and really wanted to just keep the same effort and not start tearing up the muscles to go any quicker... Over the last half mile stretch which actually ascends slightly up to the finish line, I passed Joseph Koech, who has been tearing up the USATF-NE road GP this year and is a very talented road runner....he was a little off today, with the heat (close to 80 with no wind at the start), and didn't react to my move. In the end, I came across in 7th place overall, in 9:44 officially (although my watch, which I stop AFTER the second mat, read 9:41). Since there was no starting line timing mat, I am assuming the timing was slightly off...but either way, it was a decent showing for doing absolutely zero workouts this season (other than the occasional 5k).

Top 10 Overall (1728 Finishers):

19:204:40Ruben Sanca 22Lowell MA
29:214:41Greg Wilson 20Chelmsford MA
39:324:46Jeffrey Veiga18Lowell MA
49:334:47Jim St Pierre38Dracut MA
59:354:48Brian Gagnon 22Dracut MA
69:364:48Josh Andrews 20Chelmsford MA
79:444:52Jim Johnson 32Salem NH
89:474:54Dan Roark 19Dracut MA
99:524:56Joseph Koech 40Melrose MA
109:584:59Titus Mutinda44Lowell MA

Kristin took some photos which can be seen here.

Jim Rhoades has the usual photos here.


There's no safeword at Loon...that's what I had going through my head on the starting line at this year's Loon Mountain Race (results) up in Lincoln, NH. Had I not had the good fortune of actually being able to win this race today, I would have had only needed 3 words to describe what happened... 'Upper Walking Boss'. However, due to the fact that there was one last stretch of downhill after the Boss, it gave me the opportunity to pull off my first Mountain win.

The day started with a wake up call at 4:30am and a departure time from Salem, NH at 6:00am sharp. 2 hours later, we were up in Lincoln, NH at Loon Mountain. The weather was promising until we hit the Plymouth State area, and then the skies started to darken, as thick gray and black clouds started to roll in. By the time we rolled into the parking lot, it was windy and a bit chilly. I warmed up with a CMS contingent of Jim Pawlicki, Andy McCarron, Dave Dunham, Tim Mahoney, and Tim VanOrden, and we were joined by Whirlaway's Patrick Ard and Paul Bazanchuk. Pat was there running his first Mountain race, and he picked what I consider the hardest one in the series... I guess it's a good one to get out of the they'll all seem a bit easier going forward.

After lacing up the Inov-8 x-talon 212's, I headed down to the line, along the Pemi, for a brief chat w/ Tivo, Pat, and a few others. DD came strolling over in his obscenely short purple and pink tie-dye uni, from which I immediately distanced myself. After some quick words of wisdom from race director Paul Kirsch, we were off.

Across the first parking lot and up to the first initial ascent, I was in 3rd place behind Ed Breen (GBTC) and Abdeltif Faker. Abdel went out super fast and looked really smooth. Early on, it seemed to look like he was going to run away with the race quite easily...He was bounding up the first part of the course early on, like an 800 meter runner... very smooth and strong with big powerful strides. By maybe 1 - 1.5 mile or so, we went up past a right hand turn and kept going straight...I was following Abdel, in 2nd place and wasn't paying attention to where he was running. I saw 2 people standing up near a table and heard them yell as we were about 20-30 yards past....We had gone too far and I immediately turned and cut across and back up onto the course, and now, because I was behind the leader at this point, I took the lead as we doubled back. He immediately noticed, as I yelled 'back' and he turned with me, but was now right behind me as we made the next ascent. I held that lead for the next 2.5-3 miles as I just continued to put one foot in front of the other and tried to maintain a steady rhythm. It seemed like it was taking forever to reach the top of the gondola (where you have to run past the finish line to hit the 2nd part of the course). All this time, Patrick Ard was gaining on me slowly and by the time I did run up and past the finish area, he was right behind me. As you get up past the finish area, you have the first of 2 steep downhill sections. It was here that I put a substantial lead on both Pat and Abdel who wasn't far behind. At the end of the first long downhill section, you hit the fore mentioned Upper Walking Boss, which could quite possibly be the ugliest hill in any race anywhere, period. As I hit the boss in full downhill stride, the transition over to the uphill grind again was anything but smooth. I immediately found myself in full on power-hike mode....not even attempting to continue to work the Boss in any sort of running stride.... all the while, looking behind me and just waiting for Pat and Abdel to come around the corner and start their ascent. I got a decent amount of climb in before they came into view, indicating that they didn't hit that prior downhill at anywhere near the speed that I did... For the next 1K, I essentially power hiked with very little if any real 'running'....I've come to realize that a steady power-hike is not much slower than the fastest running stride that is possible on such a climb as the Upper Walking Boss. For about 95% of the climb, I remained in 1st place, but was getting reeled in by Pat, Abdel, Ed Breen, and now Andy McCarron and Dave Dunham. By the time I got up past Scott Mason who was there taking pictures, I had been just about been caught and was now about to be pushed back to 3rd place as we crested the top of the hill. I offered Pat some words of advice as he looked very strong, and warned him of the final descent... Now in 3rd place and having Andy and Dave not too far back, I tried to keep pace with the 2 leaders across a final flat section before the downhill. As I hit the very start of the final descent, it was immediately evident that neither Pat nor Abdel were going to try to work that final reckless downhill. I screwed on past both of them almost immediately and put serious distance on them going down. I basically threw myself down the mountain as fast as I possibly could move and luckily didn't have any problems with footing or cramping (contrary to Cranmore last week)....By the time I was about 3/4ths of the way down, and hit the one flatter section before the remaining descent, I took a peek back and knew at that point that I had the race won. All I had left was the last bit of downhill, which was going in my favor, and one last climb up to the finish which is maybe 50 yards or so. Within about 5 minutes, I went from 3rd place (with the expectation of a possible 5th or 6th place finish) to 1st place by 24 seconds over Abdel, with Pat finishing up 32 seconds back.

I was ecstatic to say the least... I never would have expected to squeak out the win there, especially knowing who was right behind me, and how I performed on the last climb...but in the end, the downhill was the story, and I'll gladly take it. After a slow and easy cool down with Todd Callaghan, Tim Mahoney, and Jim Pawlicki, we headed back inside the lodge for the awards ceremony and grub. For the win, I got to pick out a pair of Inov-8 shoes from the folks at the Inov-8 display table. They had just about every popular model, but in the end, I picked up a second pair of the x-talon 212's, as Tivo convinced me that a backup pair would be a good idea...

Top 10 + CMS in Blue

PlaceFirstLastAgeCityStateTeam MMSS
2AbdeltifFaker24MaldenMA 4849
5DaveDunham45Ward HillMACMS5001
9MatsLemberger25HanoverNH 5125
10AdamPacheck17SyracuseNY 5230

...240 Total Finishers.

Kristin took some nice photos from the summit. She missed the first pack of leaders on the first pass, started to take shots as more people were coming by, and then did get the leaders coming up on the second pass to the finish.

Post race, Kristin, Tivo, Tim, Todd, and a few others headed down to soak in the Pemi and kick back a couple of brewskis in the afternoon sun. Good times for sure...lots of food/nutrition talk and ad hoc race recaps as we stood in the freezing cold river and iced the legs...

The highlight of the day, besides squeaking out the win, was getting the US Championship medals from last week's US Mountain Running Championships at Cranmore. CMS was the Men's Open Team Champions and after a few days of team scoring corrections and calculations, the results were made official. This is my first ever USATF Championship medal and being a 'Team' medal, it actually means a lot more to me than an individual medal would believe it or not...I've long considered contributing to a team's success (even in a relatively solitary sport like running) to be the most important thing to me when it comes to competition. I've always loved the team concept and that is why I really took to cross country in high school and college and love the idea of the grand prix events and team events now with CMS.

Next up is the Ascutney Mountain Run on Sunday (with a possibility of 5k on Saturday....which will be a game time decision)...

...and for proof of how ugly-hard the Upper Walking Boss is, Mr. Scott Mason provides visual evidence:


  1. NICE! Congrats - well done!

  2. Having skied DOWN Upper Walking Boss numerous times, I can't imagine anyoen wanting to go up by any means other than motorized. Fookin' nutcase! Nice run.

  3. I like the last pic. You look totally desperate to finish UWB.

  4. Well done Jim. A win at Loon is a keeper.
    Glad to read the "Walkin Boss" makes everyone suffer :)