Monday, January 25, 2010

Curly's Record Run

L-R: Matt Westerlund, Mike Quintal, Tim Mahoney, Abby Mahoney (front), Jim Johnson, Paul Bazanchuck, Tim VanOrden, Steve Wolfe.

Sunday I capped off my second weekend double of the 2010 snowshoe season out in Pittsfield State Forest in Pittsfield, MA.  Curly's Record Run (results) is race #6 in the WMAC / Dion Snowshoe Series, and it is well known that it comes
with a very steep, tough much so that DD has been challenging me all season to be the first up the hill...since he's still hurt and was home this weekend, I had to take charge and make sure I was first up the climb and then see what happened from there.  With a potential of a Josh Ference, Justin Fyffe, or any Williams boys showing up, I had set a game plan in place to just keep plugging away from the gun and not sit on anyone and wait...Fortunately neither Josh, Justin, Paul Low, or Richard Bolt showed up for this one, so I was going to be battling the rest of the CMS boys up and down Curly's Record Run.

Steve Wolfe joined me for the trek out west (510 total miles for the weekend's snowshoe race driving!!!).  We arrived pretty early but were actually just beaten into the State Park by the 'Mahoni'.  In attendance was also the younger of the 'Brothers-Quintal' who made the 3 hour trip out west for his very first snowshoe race (borrowing DD's Northern Lites).  Rounding out the CMS contingent was Tim VanOrden, who was coming off of a solid 2nd place finish at Hoot Toot & Whistle up in VT on Saturday.

After a nice easy warmup over some skimobile trails, we all strapped on the shoes and made our way over to the starting area where I helped Mike fit his snowshoes on securely and do some last minute strides... I gave Mike some pointers on passing, where he should be in relation to some others at the start, what ascending/ descending was going to be like, etc.  He seemed really pumped up for the race and was there to have some fun and give it a go. We headed over to the line and got some last minute course questions and info answered / delivered by Beth Herder and she called me out at the end of her instructions and asked me if I understood the course directions (essentially saying 'you'll be leading so pay attention').  Talk about pressure and putting someone on the spot!  

As the go-command was given, Mike Quintal took off like his feet were on fire.  He looked like he was running a 5k out there and bolted across the first field way out to an early lead.  I almost told him to relax a bit, but he's in good shape right now and I figured he'd know when to ease up as the climb started to burn in.  As we turned onto the first little bit of the auto road, I jumped out in front and wanted to be in the lead by the quick turn onto single track.  The plan worked, and I got up into the single track with TiVo, Mike, and Tim Mahoney all close behind.  I worked the single track at a descent pace and when I hit the actual first part of the climb, I had a pretty good lead.  But then the wheels started to fall off.  As more and more of the climb was put behind me, my pace slowed to an almost walk.  TiVo was running me down on each part of the climb and getting closer and closer.  The only time I was putting any distance on him was when the single-track would flatten out a bit.  I think I was recovering a little quicker and able to work the flat parts, but was really struggling on every slight uphill.  At one point, it looked like Mike and TiMo were also catching me.  Then, before I knew it, TiVo was just about within talking distance.  I started to think about letting him go by and then trying to stick with him until the last field...but before I knew it, I had reached the top and tried to work the single-track trail hard as it started to wind down a bit to a flatter section of the top of the course.

At this point, I knew there wasn't much time before the much anticipated downhill section of this course started and I just tried to keep pushing onward.  I started the descent and figured TiVo would eat me up on the way down.  He's a crazy downhill runner and I knew I'd have to be essentially reckless on the way down, to stay in front of him....and that's what I did.  The downhill section of this course is sick.  It is VERY steep and it takes switchback turns on the way down (as I believe this was a ski trail back in the day)....I would occasionally look back and catch a glimpse of TiVo who again, was gaining.  On the way down, I had to slow up a bunch of times to make sure I didn't fall off the mountain and on two occasions, I ran clean past the turn and had to stop and adjust my course (this apparently happened to TiVo and others too!).

By the time I reached the bottom of the major descent, there were some ups and downs, single track bushwhack, groomed trail, and fields all to contend with, over the last mile of the race.  This is where I put the most time on TiVo.  As I chugged on and over the last mile of the course, all the while, looking through the woods and desperately wanting to see the field at the finish, I glanced back repeatedly but could no longer see Tim.  The last few people I passed (one xc skier and one person taking photos) over this part of the course all go the same question from me: 'how far to go!?' The last girl told me 'about a minute'....she was close...maybe a few minutes to go, but that was good enough for me to finally think that I may be able to win this...  As I popped out onto the last field and could see the finish, I glanced at my watch and knew the course record was no longer in sight (not that I was even thinking of it anyways, but looked nonetheless).  Rich Bolt (CMS) ran 28:17 here in 2004 and Paul Low (CMS) ran 28:51 (also in 2004).  I came across the line in 28:54 (3 ticks under Paul Low's time) for the 3rd fastest time ever on this course.  It was also my 5th WMAC win in a row (out of the past 6 possible WMAC races held this year...I missed yesterday's race because of Pooh Hill). I also set the 32 year old age group record with my time today (thank goodness Rich Bolt was 33 when he ran 28:17 in 2004) :).

TiVo came in in 2nd place and ran the 4th fastest time ever, while Tim Mahoney finished in a very strong 3rd place (giving CMS the sweep) in the 11th fastest time ever run here...just 3 ticks faster than Ben Nephew ran last year in the 2009 win!  Great stuff!

Curly's All Time Top Times
Curly's Age Records
Curly's Winner List
Curly's Statistics

Photos used in this entry by Birkshire Sports and Brad Herder. More photos can be seen on the Birkshire Sports page in two photos sets:

Birk Pix
Brad Herder Pix

Top 10 Overall (CMS in blue/pink)

PlaceFirst NameLast NameAgeDurationPace

96 Total Finishers.

After another cooldown over the snowmobile trails and up part of the course, Steve and I were back in the car and finally headed home!  I need a vacation!


  1. What's this, like 7 SS wins so far this year. Hell, no one's beaten you yet so you might as well just go undefeated this season. I'll no longer wish you luck when you're racing since I don't think you need any luck to win!

  2. Sidehiller will be tough. I'm thinking I could squeak out a 4th if Tilton, Ferenc, and Fyffe all show and have big races. 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th if Nephew and Cunningham go and also run well...and Bob Jackman and Tim Cox make their way up never can tell what is going to happen...I'm just glad TiVo is doing the Empire State climb...otherwise I would be looking at trying to crack the top 10. You'll see....the streak ends at Sidehiller and I'll be GLAD! ;)

  3. Nah, you've beaten these guys before. I'm putting my money on you. No pressure though :-).

  4. Well, I've beaten a battered and bruised Tilton ONCE on snowshoes.... Only beaten Ference once after he fell and knocked himself out...and never beat Fyffe on snowshoes (raced him once when it was his very first time on snowshoes) I'm thinking it could be a track meet on the last field at Sidehiller, should everyone be on their game...will be fun!

  5. I hope you can crack the top 9 since TiVo won't be there. Did you bump your head at Curly's or something??
    I'm with Dan on this one.

  6. You'll all see what I mean on Sat. afternoon...

  7. C'mon JJ, think positive! Seek and destroy.

    Bob Jackman is doing the Empire Run too.

    See you at Sidehiller.

  8. also...Joe Gray won his first snowshoe race out in OR this weekend... pretty sick to think he'll be at Nationals...