Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wachusett Mountain Race

Saturday was race #2 in the 2010 USATF-New England Mountain Series and it took me about an hour west to Westminster/Princeton, MA for the Wachusett Mountain Race (results) put on by the Central Mass Striders running club.  Photo above - The Team Inov-8 crew modeling the new Inov-8 Wrags : L-R Gina Lucrezi, Kevin Tilton, Abby Mahoney, Jim Johnson.

This was my first time running Wachusett and this is the 2nd year that the race has been run on the 'new' temporary course, because of construction to the auto road, which is supposedly due to
be completed this coming July.  That said, the new version of the course starts out with a mile and a half or so on the paved road (as usual) before it turns right and goes onto a single track downhill section for a few minutes before coming back out near the ski lodge and then it continues up the fire road/ ski slope. It cuts diagonally across the mountain and then up to a single track section that is the majority of the climb.  Once up to the top, you dump back onto the paved auto road for a few seconds before hitting the start of the long downhill section back to the finish area.  This entire last downhill is entirely on fire road/ ski trail and grass.

I knew going in, that there would be some studs here.  As I walked around the registration area and talked w/ the gads of CMS guys that showed up, I started to do the math.  I figured I would probably be good for 5th place or so.  No better than that I thought, as Ryan Cararra (New Balance), Kevin Tilton (CMS), Andy McCarron (CMS), and Eric Blake (BAA) were all in attendance.  On top of that, there were a couple of GBTC guys, Turtles, and a ton of CMS guys and other usual suspects on the mountain scene that can all contend for top 10 spots.  I warmed up w/ Paul Kirsch (WMM), Gina Lucrezi (Inov-8), and Kevin Tilton for almost 35 minutes or so (before we got back down to the starting line).  We ran up the course (less the starting road portion and the first single track section) and came down the last couple miles.

As the race went off, to no one's surprise, Eric Blake took off to the front and Ryan Cararra was right next to him, not giving him even an inch.  Kevin moved up and tucked in behind and I just rolled along, slowly losing ground the entire way up the first mile + of paved auto road.  By about a half mile in, Kevin had fallen back and looked to be settling into a more comfortable pace for himself, but he was still 15 or so seconds up on me by the 1 mile mark.    Right around the 1 mile mark, I had been joined by youngster Nate Sans, who was running stride for stride with me.  Shortly after the mile mark, Andy McCarron motored on by me and looked to be running really strong.  I clicked through the mile around 6:24 or so (it was the only mile marker on the course).  Not too long after that, we turned and went down to the single track section which would bring us back down to the lodge / finish line area, the first time through.  At this point, it was Eric, then Ryan a few seconds back, then Kevin, then Andy, then Nate, and then me.  I believe a GBTC runner was next, but a ways back.  As we hit the trailhead of the single track section, I let Nate go in ahead and that proved to be a little bit of a mistake, because I felt like I could have really ripped that single track section a bit faster.  At one point, I yelled up to him to go after Andy, as I felt we may be letting him slip away, but once we came back out in the large clearing near the ski lodge, we weren't too far back.  I moved right around Nate and went on past and looked up to see that Kevin Tilton was actually now in the lead!  I was not expecting that at all, but was hoping he could stick with it.

Not too far after we started to make our way up the fire road, I noticed that Ryan was falling back a bit and Eric had caught up to and past Kevin.  I kept chugging up the road and started to lose Nate.  I was comfortably in 5th and figured that's where I'd stay until I noticed Ryan and Andy were now together and not too far ahead.  When we took the left onto the single track climb (the major climb on the course), I was catching up to those two.  I put even more distance on Nate and whoever else was behind at this point and by the top of the climb (which was very steep, rocky, and rooty) I was now right behind Ryan and a few ticks behind  Andy.  At this point, I was almost positive that there was more climb somewhere on the course.  It seemed too short and too easy up to this point (although I did feel like crap on the first road section of the course).  As I started to descent, I pulled up along Ryan Cararra and asked him how much more climb there was left.  He said 'None.  That was it.  It's all downhill.  Start hammering'.  I thought he was kidding me, as we had only run for about 17 minutes or so.  It took me a minute or so before I started to realize that he wasn't kidding and I started to try to put a surge on to try to get Andy and/or Kevin.  I could still see Andy most of the way down, and could also see Kevin not too far up, but the same problem that hit me last week at Northfield, was happening again.  I was pretty much all out downhill and there is only so much distance you can make up when you're all running essentially all out.  I was putting a little bit of distance on Ryan, but not really catching Andy and Kevin all that much.

As the descent continued, we eventually started to run against other runners still making their way up the course.  Shortly after this, there was one last uphill section that is positioned perfectly to be a potential make or break point in the race.  What it did for me was ice any chances I had of catching Andy or Kevin, but it helped solidify my 4th place finish, as I came up and over that last climb and down to the finish.  I came across in 30:40 and in 4th place, just ahead of Ryan and Nate Sans.  I was thrilled to have been 4th in this type of field, although like to think that I should be able to hang better with Kevin and Andy and may have let a little of this race go too early....but in the end, it is what it is and I'm relatively pleased w/ the effort.  Again, not even a minute behind Eric Blake in a mountain race ain't too shabby!  Eric was first in a sub 30 effort, 57 seconds ahead of myself, over this 5 mile course.

My impression of the course overall is that it's most definitely the easiest race in the series (in it's current form). Northfield felt like much more of a grind.  I didn't have any point of the Wachusett course that caused me to even think about a walk or power hike.  The worst I felt the entire race was over the first mile, which was all paved.

CMS was well represented (it is, of course a CMS team event) here and placed fairly well against a lot of mountain running talent from all over New England.

Top 20 + CMS MORT/ Masters in Blue

PlTimeNameCity, StClub
129:43EricBlakeNew Britain, CTBAA
230:21KevinTiltonNorth Conway, NHCMS
330:28AndyMccarronKeene, NHCMS
430:40JimJohnsonSalem, NHCMS
531:14RyanCarraraHudson, MANBB
731:36ToddCallaghanSomerville, MAGCST
831:56EdwardBreenMedford, MAGBTC
932:16StephenGranger-BevanBoston, MACSU
1032:32TimVanOrdenBennington, VTCMS
1132:40TimMahoneyNorthampton, MACMS
1233:06RossKrauseEasthampton, MARUNREG.COM
1333:11RobertJackmanWarwick, RITNT
1433:14JimPawlickiBeverly, MACMS
1533:28MatthewTwarogHubbardston, MA
1633:47RyanAschbrennerWaltham, MAGBTC
1734:03JeffGoupilKeene, NHCMS
1834:24ChristopherBenestadNorthborough, MABAA
1934:29JeffHuntConcord, NHGCS
2034:37JohnKinneeAyer, MACMS
2134:41BryanJohnstonKeene, NHCMS
2235:09SamWoodLaconia, NHCMS
2936:03DaveDunhamBradford, MACMS
3136:17JohnPajerLeicester, MACMS

324 Total Finishers.

I rocked the Inov-8 230s once again (first off road run in these this year).  These proved to be perfect for the mix of paved and off-road this course had to offer.  After the race, Gina Lucrezi gave Kevin, Abby, and I all a couple of new Inov-8 Wrags.

Photos in this entry courtesy of Krissy K.  Her entire photoset can be viewed here.


Scott Mason.  His entire photoset can be viewed here.

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