Sunday, June 14, 2009

Northfield Mountain recap

I was torn on which race to go to on Saturday, June 13. I wanted to race the Market Square 10K in Portsmouth, NH where I set my 10K PR set 10 years ago (33:03) and had a decent race last June getting under 34 minutes. On the other hand, I have run the first two races of the USATF New England Mountain series and the Northfield Mountain is race number three. It is also the New England Trail Championship. Dave Dunham has been the race director and puts on a solid event. Who else can set up the course the day before, direct the race, and race it - very well mind you.

Kristen and I got up at 4:30 and were out the door with the GPS set up at 5:35 in the VW Gti. We got to Northfield at 7:30 after a stop for gas in Fitchburg as the Gti got thirsty for 93 Octane. Kristen was volunteering to help out at the water stop with and take some photos. She got to ride up the auto road with Al Bernier in the Subaru.

I did a warm up with a small CMS crew that was made up of Eric Morse (good to see him racing again), Dave Dunham, and Tim & Abbey Mahoney. Before I got to the starting line, I was greeted by Mark Asaro who was thanking me for being a gentleman; offering encouraging words to his son, Peter, during the last 300m of Pack Monadnock. He thanked me for not outdueling his son. I told him that I had no energy to pass him on what felt like a 30% grade and gave every effort just to catch up to the guy. Peter finished two seconds ahead of me at Pack.

At 9:00am sharp Dave gave the race of over 200 the final instructions and gave the first row on the starting line his traditional high five as we were off with two commands. I settled in with Tim Mahoney after the first minute. Justin Fyffe, Josh Ferenc, and Eric Morse were dueling it out for the 1st mile. I had a split of 5:39 which is moving pretty good. The climbing soon began and I shuffled up the hills. Todd Callaghan and Tim Mahoney got around me between 2 and 3 miles. My effort was hard enough so I just wanted to keep them close until the outlook point. The course is practically all down hill after that. I managed to surge pass Tim a half mile before the water stop and set my cruise control to match Todd's stride who had his sights on Greg Hammett in front of him.

The next 3K is runable downhill for most but causes some pain for the next day. Paul Low has seen a low four minute mile in this stretch in the past. I couldn't gain any ground on Todd and Greg was keeping his distance on him. I heard the occasional foot steps behind me but never checked to see who it was, assuming it was Tim (it was). At one point on the down hill, my left foot started to burn up in the heel. This is typical here due to the speed at which I am running and occasional breaking - putting much force on the feet. The New Balance 790 held up pretty good but I was expecting my toes to rip through the toe box toward the end of the descent.

The course levels off after 5.3 miles or so and you can see the race in front of you as it is a long stretch (3/4 of a mile?). I could make out Justin's yellow, Lasportiva shirt about two mintues ahead. I heard he had a good battle with Andy McCarron over the past two miles. I was trying to stay focused on Todd who still had 10 seconds or so on me and I did not want to get caught by Tim or anyone else in the last mile and a half. I hustled into the home stretch for 8th place with a time of 38:59, my second quickest time on the this course. I ran 38:32 last year on a hot day and a dog fight battle with Todd Callaghan and Tim Van Orden over the last two miles.

I was happy with the effort. CMS did very well, placing nine runners in the top twelve. See the overall results and the awesome photos by Scott Mason. I ran the course again after the race with a big crew that included Todd Callaghan, Tim Mahoney, Tim Van Orden, and a few others to pick up the flagging and mile markers. A big thanks to everyone. The company was great and it offered another 45 minutes of hilarious conversation.

I am looking foward to the Cranmore Hill Climb where I DNF'd two years ago. That race will be followed by Loon Mountain and Ascutney Mountain Challenge in July. These are tough races but I am up for the challenge. Meanwhile, I am going to run the Squantum 5 mile road race this Thursday which is minutes from work in Marina Bay (Quincy). It is part of the New England Runner Pub Series so it should be competitive. I am looking to better the 28:43 that I ran in 2007.


I slacked on writing about my blazing 16:35 (chip time) at the Rhody 5K last Sunday, June 7th, in Lincoln, RI. I averaged 5:21 pace per mile and did not crash as bad as I felt with 800m to go. My splits were 5:15, 5:23, 5:21, and :36. I am not sure I trust the mile three marker. I don't have much to say about my effort other than my legs were exposed for the lack of interval training. I had zero turn over and that is the number one requirement for a 5K, period. CMS as a team did well, finishing 5th, with the top five guys getting under 15:58. Full results.


  1. Nice race(s), Jim. Hope to see you soon at another race.

  2. Nice racing Jim. See you at Cranmore. The course is better than the 2007 edition.