This is a tough time of the year for CMS to get a full team (five runners to score) at team competition races. Cross Country scoring is calculated by the placing of your top five runners against the top five runners of your competition. If there is a tie, displacement occurs by the sixth runner. Today, we were very fortunate to get five men to the starting line. CMS has been busy at the races over the past month. Three New England Road Race Championship races took place in September and October. The finale was last Sunday at the Bay State Marathon in Lowell, MA where CMS won with the duo of Justin Fyffe (2nd), Andy McCarron (3rd), and Scott Leslie (7th) scoring out with cumulative time of 7:30:25, almost two minutes ahead of the Whirlaway Racing Team. The 1st place finish for the team put us into a tie for 1st overall in the Grand Prix series with the Greater Boston Track Club. It was an exciting conclusion to finish the series for the team. Thus, some of the guys needed to rest their marathon legs this week or were going at it at other races this weekend.
I love cross country. It is my favorite running discipline. Fall foliage is in a particular cycle depending on your locale in New England. The temperature is usually decent at this time of the year. Today was a favorable day for racing in Franklin Park with clear skies and temps in the low 60's. The weather, something that mother nature has control over, dropped plenty of rain yesterday. I knew the course was going to be a challenge. However, that's what I like about cross country. I have run in snow, mud, rain, nor' easters, and witnessed hurricane type winds for this sport.
I did a warm up with the team and Peter Mallet (elite triathlete and UNH grad) to check out the course. It was a bit soggy in places. Al Bernier, Dan Navaroli, Tom Brown, Dave Harper, and I toed the line and represented CMS against eleven other teams today at noon. Five club teams were from New York State. Four club teams were from Massachusetts. Finally, two college teams, Dartmouth and Tufts had full squads on hand. My goal today was to have a time that began with 27. Those minutes had surges, mud, and elbows thrown around. I hit the lap button on my Garmin 250 (which measured my effort for 5.0 miles) for all splits except mile three. I passed mile one in 5:21 feeling pretty good and right on what I planned. I backed off a touch through the first tour of bear cage hill and went through mile two at 11:07. There was a fun stretch of mud leading into the wilderness loop. Kristen who was taking photos was up on the wall screaming words of encouragement. Exiting the loop, Greg Putnam and wife were yelling for the team.
I passed Doug Chick from GBTC heading around the field, passing mile three (neglecting the split) and through 5K around 17:20 or so. Another slippery battle with mud for the finale wilderness loop trying to stay in touch with the competition which had a few GBTC singlets, one of which being Brad Kozel. Mile four passed in 22:40 with a dive into the soggy grass leading to the left hand turn toward White Stadium and Bear Cage hill. I was focused on keeping pace on the folks a few strides ahead. I was looking forward to cresting Bear Cage to let loose on the last .4 miles. I let'er rip, bolted down the Bear Cage and carried the momentum to the backstop, 90 degree right-turn into the home stretch which was met for the third time of the day with soggy footing. I shortened the stride into the finish line fighting the clock to stay in the 27 range but let the chip timing provide relief in the results later to give me the 27:59. If that time was 28, I'd be burnt over that for the rest of the day and into tomorrow's training run.
Dave Harper (3rd 40+ today & took the individual master X/C GP lead) was not too far back from me to finish off the scoring for us. I am thankful that he did the 8K instead of the 5K today. Dan (2nd overall x/c Grand Prix Scoring), Al, and Tom (1st race for CMS) had solid efforts. We figured that the soggy footing slowed things down out there 30+ seconds. The results are posted here. The team placed 9th out of the 11 teams. I am looking forward to New Englands on November 8th. Despite the distance jumping to 10K, I will get through the 8K mark quicker than today if weather cooperates. We'll see.
Scott Mason took a ton of photos yesterday of each race so check them out.
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