Saturday, February 5, 2011

Curly's Record Run

A little late with this post...sorry... Last Sunday I headed out to Pittsfield, MA with Dave Dunham for another WMAC/Dion series event. The day after my lay-down at Sidehiller, I raced my second time at Curly's Record Run (results).  This is a great, tough race in Pittsfield State Forest (same area and start/finish as Turner Trail).  I may not have gone all the way out if DD wasn't already going, so it was good to have that motivation and the convenience of having someone else drive :).

I ran this race last year and ran the 3rd fastest time ever (28:54), behind Richard Bolt (28:17 - 2004) and the legendary Paul Low (28:51 - 2004).  I was only 3 ticks behind Paul Low's time.  I kind of wish I knew as I was running to the line (I didn't realize any of this until after I got home and saw the list).  I may have found an extra 3 seconds somewhere.  Fastest times and course records in snowshoe races are usually not even applicable, as snow conditions change so much from year to year it's basically never the same conditions all the way through the race.  The actual courses change a bit too from year to year.  Obviously in 2004 it was fast, but it really was a scorcher last year as well.  This year, the conditions weren't as fast, with deep, loose snow on some of the course, and some decently packed down single track, but not icy and solid like last year.

DD and I got to the race pretty early, got ready, and headed out on the snow covered park road for a warmup.  I was feeling OK for a second race in a back to back weekend.  Tivo was there, but wasn't racing all out because of his Empire State Building race on Tuesday.  Tim Woods-Mahoney was there and so was Ross Krause.  Any one of these guys can win here and I knew it was going to be a good race.  Ross has been outclimbing me this year and this race has a pretty good climb in the first mile +.  I was pretty nervous.

We all lined up and the race was delayed a bit because people were still parking and registering, so DD and I and some others tried to pack down a path in the first 50 meters or so.  The snow was so loose over the first section of the field that it would be tough to get footing and get settled into the race until you got out to the road section before the single track.

As the gun went off, the record field of 117 runners headed across the loose, sloppy snow and I noticed UMass Dartmouth's Steve Dowsett taking off by me like I was standing still.  He got a very good strong start and I had all I could do to catch him by the first road section.  As you hit the road, it becomes a good steady climb up to the single track entrance on the left side of the hill.  I snuck in ahead of Steve on the single track and was worried because my right snowshoe seemed to be coming loose.  I had a quick moment where I thought about stopping and retying the shoe, but thought it was in the worst possible spot, being right at the beginning of the race and right at the start of the single track.  I would have been passed by 20 runners easily.  I hoped it would stay put and continued on.

The first part of the single track is winding and up and down.  I put some distance on the field before hitting the main climb of the race, for which Curly's Record Run is known for.  It is a good solid climb with some switchbacks, that goes for a good mile or so (maybe even longer).  I did my usualy seizing up at this point and had to run/powerhike a lot of the loose single track sections that got very steep.  All the while, Ross had moved up into 2nd place and was looking good. I could see Ross and DD (in his bright blaze orange vest) on the switchbacks.  I figured if I could just muscle through the climb and still be in the lead at the top, I'd be fine for the way down.  The downhill is CRAZY steep and I am an OK descender and knew I probably wouldn't be passed on the downs.

The top of the climb is rather deceiving and I noticed this last year, so I was ready this year.  Last year, Tim VanOrden almost caught me at the top of this climb.  This year, Ross wasn't too far back, but I remembered that when you get up to the top, you have some downs before another climb to the very top of the hill before you start coming all the way down.  Even though I was mentally ready for it, I still ended up powerhiking the last uphill section.  When I got to the top, I started hammering the downs.  I kept telling myself to keep on the gas on the downhill (something that is not really inherently easy to remember).  The problem with trying to just go all out on the way down this course is that you find yourself out of control (sort of like the downhills at Cranmore).  Pretty soon you realize you are about to fly off the course, as the hill cuts left and then right.  You have to hit the breaks quite a bit on this downhill section when the trail cuts back and forth.  How people used to ski race down this back in the day is beyond me.  I managed to survive the downhill and took the sharp left-hand turn onto the single track at the bottom.  This last section may be more than a mile of winding, hilly single track that has some pretty loose and tight sections where I was close to wiping out.  The single track was narrow and the turns were navigating in and out of trees. This section seems to drag on and on but I finally pushed on and out of the woods and down onto the fields towards the finish, well out of contention for any sort of fast time, but in the lead, which was what I was hoping for.  I came across in 30:56 and was spent.  Ross ran a very strong race AGAIN and edged out 3 CMS runners in a row in DD, Tim Woods-Mahoney, and Tivo.  John Pajer was 13th OA and our (CMS') 5th man, for a strong team win.

Top 10 plus CMS in blue

Place First Name Last Name Sex Age Time Team
1 JIM  JOHNSON  33 30:56 CMS 
2 ROSS  KRAUSE  31 32:46 RUNREG 
3 DAVE  DUNHAM  46 33:35 CMS 
4 TIM  MAHONEY  31 34:09 CMS 
5 TIM  VANORDEN  42 34:37 CMS 
6 CHRIS  TAFT  30 35:38
7 STEVE  DOWSETT  22 37:04
8 PAUL  BAZANCHUK  56 37:24 WMM 
9 RICHARD  TEAL  32 37:42
10 AMY  LANE  31 38:32
13 JOHN  PAJER  48 39:41 CMS 

117 Total Finishers!

Photos by Bob Birkby.

After the race, I cooled down (as the Garmin and my treadmill actually says 'cooldown', not 'warmdown' interestingly enough) with DD and Tim Woods-Mahoney on the snowy roads.  It was then back on the road for a 2:45 ride back to the hood with DD.  We played adhoc trivia games on the way back to pass the time.  It is better than the usual talking about the glory days and how runners nowadays can't hold a candle to the Dunham/Fram/Morse days of old...I agree...but it's too depressing to talk about, so Dave and I made up music-related games to play on the way back.  Passed the time just fine.

Next up: My Exeter Snowshoe Hullabaloo race writeup...

1 comment:

  1. Deep cuts only!

    Fun ride back...although the trivia games were totally made up by you and won by you. Seems unfair.

    I've got a four hour drive tomorrow. Wish I could have done Exeter instead!

    BTW: I love the "Tim Woods-Mahoney" reference.