Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2011 USATF-NE Mountain Series

With the conclusion of last week's Ascutney Hillclimb, the USATF-New England Mountain Series wrapped up for 2011 and I was pleased to accomplish a goal I had set for myself over the past couple of years.  I wanted to first and foremost complete the series and get my second straight mountain goat award (completing all 6 races in the series).  I accomplished that even though I had to run Wachusett the day before Redhook (as I did last year) and even though I had to skip the Rhody 5k (USATF-NE Road GP) to run Pack Monadnock.  A couple of sacrifices is worth completing the series and guaranteeing a spot into Mount Washington next year though for sure.  I also accomplished a second tier (secret) goal of winning the mountain series this year.  It helps when guys like Eric Blake and Kevin Tilton don't run the series, but I don't want to get hung up on who showed and who didn't. Half the battle of these races is showing up and being healthy.  These races are a grind and they really do require you to be healthy, mentally prepared, and certainly motivated.  There is no faking it when it comes to running the last part of Pack, or grinding through Ascutney, or trying to keep a running pace up the Walking Boss at Loon.  These are not races you can just try to show up to and tough your way through.

Last year, Eric Blake cruised to an easy series win by winning 5 of the 6 races (he didn't run Cranmore).  I finished in second place in the series, just edging out Kevin Tilton who did 5 of 6 races as well.  I did all 6 and got my first mountain goat status and award.  This year, I really wanted to see if I could at least get a podium spot, but I wasn't sure who would be trying to do the entire series.  I had thought that my chance to actually win the series had come and gone in 2009, when I only ran 4 of 6 races (skipping the first two, Northfield and Wachusett).  Andy McCarron had won the series (and deservedly so) but I had actually beaten Andy in the 3 races I ran against him in (he only did 5, missing Cranmore because of a time mixup).  You need best 5 races to win the series, so I was not a factor in the scoring.  This year, Andy only ran Northfield and Ascutney, so he wasn't factored into the scoring.  The series came down to a battle between myself, Tim VanOrden, Todd Callaghan, and Ross Krause.  I think I technically had the series wrapped before Ascutney (using my first 5 races to score) but I wanted to get my Goat award and do all 6.

I was pleased to win two races I've never won before (Wachusett and Pack) and get a second win at Ascutney (my first win there was in 2009 when it was the alternate course).  That means I have won 4 of the 6 races in the series (2x Ascutney, 1xPack, 1xWachusett, and 1xLoon (believe it or not, back in 2009)).

Now, I enter the time of year where it's just a mixed bag of roads, trails, and wishing I was in the mountains or in the snow... I wish there were a couple more races in the series that would stretch it out a bit longer in the year but for now I will cherish the time we do have w/ these 6 great races (plus Mount Washington).  May to July is my favorite time of year for racing for sure.

Note to all those out there who want to try something new, different, or challenge themselves a little bit more (or at least in a different way) next year... Try some or all of these races.  Aside from Rhody, there is practically no conflict usually.  No excuses!  Oh yeah, and 235 days left until the 212 Mt. Wash Lotto.

2011 Top 10 Final Results (Men):

NameAgeClubNorthfieldWachusettPackCranmoreLoonAscutney# runTotal PtsBest 5
Jim Johnson33CMS99.50100.00100.0089.4798.03100.006587.00497.53
Tim Van Orden43CMS96.7195.4895.5486.1493.9495.516563.32477.18
Todd Callaghan41GCS94.7195.3893.6485.5898.1993.106560.60475.02
Ross Krause31CMS93.1593.2892.0184.9099.3595.566558.25473.35
Tim Mahoney31CMS92.0692.4392.2480.2185.7394.366537.03456.82
Tom Brown25CMS93.5890.3194.2078.8288.0689.556534.52455.70
Patrick Ard27Whirl93.3194.9183.9384.310.0092.775449.23449.23
Brian Ruhm46GCS88.5088.6189.1279.4189.6288.416523.67444.26
Michael Norton41FTC87.3588.5188.9977.6685.4785.576513.55435.89
Chris Taft3082.1684.8882.2772.3184.3585.446491.41419.10

USATF-New England Mountain Series Champions by Year:

2011 - Jim Johnson (CMS)
2010 - Eric Blake (BAA) +
2009 - Andy McCarron (CMS)
2008 - Justin Fyffe (GCS) *
2007 - Paul Low (CMS)
2006 - Paul Low (CMS)
2005 - Paul Low (CMS)
2004 - Josh Ferenc (BAA) **
2003 - Eric Morse (CMS)
2002 - Eric Morse (CMS)
2001 - Eric Morse (CMS)
2000 - Eric Morse (CMS)
1999 - Eric Morse (CMS)
1998 - Dave Dunham (CMS)
1997 - Eric Morse (CMS)
1996 - Dave Dunham (CMS)

+ - used to be CMS
* - became CMS 
** - secretly wants to be CMS