Thursday, May 26, 2011

Northfield Mountain Race

(photo above courtesy of Scott Mason)

Skipping ahead (over 2 other races) I wanted to blog first about the most recent race, which was the first race in the 2011 USATF-New England Mountain Series.  The mountains are my favorite season (closely followed by snowshoe).  I love the feeling of grinding out 8-9 minute pace up some of the steepest, toughest climbs in the country, in sometimes brutal heat, with unpredictable footing, and that all too familiar neck-pounding, heart-racing condition I refer to as my 'mountain-pulse'.  That is when you can actually HEAR your heart beating and you feel like your neck is going to burst.  You are all hunched over like a 100 year old man, and your hands occasionally have to hit the muddy ground to pull you up some of the steeper sections.  Who doesn't enjoy that?!

(photo above by Joe Viger)

I headed over to Northfield Mountain in Northfield, MA for the Northfield Mountain Race (results) with Patrick Ard in tow.  Northfield is probably the 2nd 'easiest' race in the series after Wachusett in my opinion, but it is a great race put on by Dave Dunham and his DRC volunteers.  This was Dave's last year as RD and he put on a great event, which always makes this one of the more popular mountain/trail races.  This race has been in multiple series over the years and has also served as the USATF-NE trail championship numerous times.  It has a good mixture of flats, ups, and downs and is mostly on wide grassy xc ski trails.  It almost feels like a cross country race except it's got way more climbing than a typical xc race.  Let's put it this way...if they just advertised this as an XC race, people would consider it the toughest in the history of XC races...

The field was pretty deep this year with a slew of CMS guys and some others like Mark Miller (previous winner), Paul Morris (2nd last year), and a couple of fast Keene State guys.  As the gun went off, a pack of 10 or so guys all went out together and it appeared to be anyone's race.  The pace was relatively conservative and a big pack of us wound our way slightly up to the mile mark with Andy McCarron and Mark Miller doing a lot of the heavy lifting during this time.  I stayed behind those guys for a bit, going back and forth for 3rd-5th places with the two Keene guys (Tim Pipp and Eric MacKnight) and Paul Morris.  Once the climbing began, I moved into 3rd for a bit, with Pipp, MacKnight, and Morris close behind.  Deeper into the climb, I moved past Andy and out in front of those other 3 and only trailed Mark up most of the rest of the 2nd and 3rd miles, which were all up with some occasional leveling off between climbs.

Somewhere right around the 3 mile mark (in this approx. 10k race), Eric went bombing past me and caught up to Mark.  He may have taken the lead temporarily, but I can't remember. I thought for a moment that he might have thought the climbing was over... What I do know is that not soon after that, there is one last climb up to the halfway point (approx.) and the summit.  I found myself catching up to, and passing both Mark and Eric and I arrived at the summit in first place.  I touched the lookout deck, turned and headed back against traffic.   I was surprised that I had taken the lead and very surprised to see just about everyone in that initial pack of 10 or so guys, right behind and together.  I knew it was going to be a make-or-break descent and it could be anyone's race to take... but I thought for a brief moment about winning the race for the first time.

(photo left courtesy of Scott Mason)

As I hit the downhill, I lasted about 20-30 seconds before Mark Miller regained the lead and went past me.  I  maintained a few second gap and stayed there, with him only picking up a very slight lead as the downhills began to play out.  At one point, I turned to look and had a big lead on Eric and couldn't see anyone else behind me, as I continued to descend, with the occasional uphill between steep drops.  The course is rolling in both directions, but the majority of the 1st half is obviously up and the 2nd is down.  On the small uphill sections on the way down, I knew I was OK and not losing any time (I may have been gaining time), but the steep downs were definitely favoring the younger legs of Eric as just past the 5 mile marker, he blew past me like I was jogging (although I was rocking sub 5s).  He was killing the downhills and it looked like he got a second wind and quickly caught and passed right by Mark Miller.

For the last mile +, it was more of the same as the course rolled a bit and then rode along the power lines for an up and down last mile.  Eric continued to pull away, Mark remained about 10 seconds up on me, and I could not see 4th place behind me until halfway down the power lines, where you can see way back.  It was a bunch of guys pretty close. I knew it was Andy and Tim for sure...with Greg Hammett no doubt in that mix.

(photo left courtesy of Scott Mason)

In the end, I came in 11 seconds back of Mark for 3rd place.  Eric beat me by a convincing 26 seconds, all within the last 1.2 miles.  For my win and podium spot, I got a nice USATF-NE medal (as this was once again also the USATF-NE Trail Championships) and some cash.

For footwear, I decided to wear the Mudclaw 272s, as I felt the footing (rocks and unpredictable thick grass in spots) dictated a shoe with more cushion for my delicate feet.


Mile 1) 5:36
Mile 2) 5:47 (11:24)
Mile 3) 7:23 (18:47)
Mile 4) 6:30 (25:17)
Mile 5) 4:58 (30:15)
Mile 6) 4:40 (34:55)
last .2) 1:57 (36:53)

Top 20 plus CMS in Blue

Place Time Name Age Team 
1 0:36:27 Eric MacKnight 22 Keene State College
2 0:36:42 Mark Miller 30 BAA
3 0:36:53 Jim Johnson 33 CMS
4 0:37:22 Andy McCarron 28 CMS
5 0:37:26 Tim Pipp 22 CMS
6 0:37:51 Greg Hammett 33 CMS
7 0:37:55 Ben Nephew 35 CMS
8 0:37:57 Tim Van Orden 43 CMS
9 0:38:45 Todd Callaghan 41 GCS
10 0:39:07 Paul Morris 24
11 0:39:13 Tom Brown 25 CMS
12 0:39:20 Patrick Ard 27 Whirlaway
13 0:39:24 Ross Krause 31 CMS
14 0:39:24 Dave Dunham 47 CMS
15 0:39:52 Tim Mahoney 31 CMS
16 0:40:21 George Adams 41 CMS
17 0:40:33 Joe Shairs 43 CMS
18 0:40:39 Ryan Aschbrenner 33 GBTC
19 0:40:40 Allan Serrano 43 Sahwangunk Runners
20 0:40:47 Kasie Enman 31 BAA
23 0:41:31 John Kinnee 32 CMS
43 0:45:06 John Pajer 48 CMS
44 0:45:08 Abby Mahoney 32 CMS
83 0:50:30 Jacqueline Shakar 51 CMS
169 1:02:44 Lisa Paciello 28 CMS
183 1:04:06 Water Kuklinski 62 CMS
196 1:08:21 David LaPierre 47 CMS
218 1:23:27 George Boudreau Jr 42 CMS

225 Total Finishers.

Photos: Joe Viger
Photos: Scott Mason
Photos: Dave Dunham

Next up: Wachusett Mountain!!!

1 comment:

  1. Your foot plant in the third picture looks like you are trying out my running style. :-)

    Nice job!