Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Winnekenni 4 mile snowshoe race

The Epic run from Beverly to Gloucester that was planned with a group of North Shore runners got cancelled due to the snow coverage. Brett Rickenbach talked about snowshoe running during a recent run so we wanted opted for that to take advantage of the rapidly melting snow. Dave Dunham gave the green light of a fun run snowshoe event at Lake Winnekenni in Haverhill so we went. Greg Putnam and Dave set up the course. Someone from Granite State Timing showed up with a clock and another gent arrived to volunteer his time to record results. Six of us were on the start line. I jumped in the back after we started the run to feel out the pace and snow conditions. The snow was heavy and wet. The depth varied from zero to a foot in one section. I moved slowly up behind Greg and past him before we reached the top of the hill where the castle was (2.5 miles?). I was tentative because I knew he was already out on the course working hard with Dave to mark the course. The good thing is that he knew the course. He had to call my attention when I varied away the course a few times. He even waited for me after I went beyond the course. A gentleman and a scholar (he is a teacher). I was debating what to do and how to finish the race based on his professionalism. It was a fun run and left it at that finishing a few seconds in front of Greg. I hope that Greg does a few more races this winter as I think he will be very good at it and a competitive master. Dave, Brett, and Melissa followed. The Granite State guy who brought the clock walked in from the other end and called it a day. The first snowshoe for this season is in the books. Brett and I helped Dave pick up the mile markers and hundreds of flags. We had breakfast at Heavenly Donuts (awesome Cinnamon Rolls) down the road.

Full results

Resting after the race at Lake Winnekenni
Photo by Dave Dunham

Assault on Mt. Hood

1st place as part of team CMS at Mt Hood
Melrose has an emerald gem – Mt. Hood Golf Course. The event hosted the ninth annual and always challenging 3.5 mile cross country race. The course changes over the years but there is no way around not having to climb up and down the hills. On this particular Saturday, patches of snow cover and ice scattered the greens and cart paths. Overall, footing was safe and the course was laid out to avoid any danger of wiping out on your rear end. It was a cold and cloudy day. CMS had four representing – Nate Jenkins, Greg Putnam, Dan Verrington, and I. Three score for a team in the end and Greg put the word out that he was interested in getting the team prize a week earlier. The start bolted out and single file was the rule. I was in 10th place after 400m. I passed the one mile marker in 5:47 a few steps behind a guy (Patrick Ward per results). The race took a massive hill on that was worthy of the mountain series. I let out a few expletives approaching it in fun. I kept on the heels in front of me and surges continued dependent on terrain and footing. We dropped into mile three where you could see everyone in front and or peek behind to size up what is needed to finish strong or whimper in. I got past Patrick and tried to reel in Andreas Heilmann but I ran out of space at the end which has a generous decline on the road to the finish line. I finished ninth overall. It took me 19:42 to cover the distance. My Garmin measured 3.37 miles (5:52 / mile). The team took the win and we each got an awesome Nutcracker which is pretty cool to put on display at home. The team gathered inside for pasta, salad, chowder and laughs.
Hustling into the finish

An idea of the course

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mill Cities Relay

Jim, Larissa, Elizabeth, and Megan at the finish
The Mill Cities Relay is always a fun event. 27 miles, 5 legs, 2 states, one river and a cold December day sums it up. A post race party at the finish in Lawrence via the Claddagh Pub caps off the day. This was my third year in a row running with SRR and the open coed team. Our team consisted of fast company: Alex White, Elizabeth Jackson, Larissa Park, and Megan Hyland. We secured a team name of SRR - Alex’s Bulk Organic Produce. If you want some organic veggies at a discount and delivered, just let him know. Larissa picked Brett Rickenbach (Winner’s Circle Coed) and I up and got to the Norman Crisp school in Nashua about 55 minutes before the 8:00 start. This gave me ample time to do all the pre-race stuff and safely get to the start line next to SRR’s Greg Picklesimer and Mike Quintal who ended up finishing 1 and 2 for leg one. Larissa drove off to get ready for leg 2. I settled into 10th place or so about 400m into my 5.4 mile leg. Mike and Greg were up front and the pack was single file. I trailed or led a single file pack about 50m behind James Sullivan from GLRR. I got onto his heels after 3 miles and he would proceed to surge each time. Ryan Hayes from the Shamrock Running Club went ahead of us after 4 miles with a hard surge. I noted passing 5 miles in 27:58 and was pleased with that. I managed to pass Ryan 800m before our entry into the parking lot exchange zone and get a stride behind James before handing off to Larissa around 30:01. I think our team was in 8th or 9th place at the time. I collected Brett who also ran leg one and had to find Larissa’s car so we could drive to the next exchange zone for her finish. She picked up some places on her leg which had a few hills and plenty of narrow road. We got into the Greater Lowell High School about five minutes ahead of her exchange with Megan Hyland who was to hand off to Alex White for the long leg along the Merrimac River. Larissa, Brett, and I drove to the last exchange zone to see Elizabeth Jackson take off once Alex came in. She ran the final leg to the pub in Lawrence to a winning coed division time of 2:35:08 and 5th team overall. Gate City and Whirlaway had coed teams finish 6th and 7th overall in the relay for a competitive race in our division. I had a great time hanging out with mates and members of all clubs inside the Claddagh. Huge thanks go out to Brian Cullinane and Brendan Kearney for putting the teams together. Brian would set a marathon PR the same day at the California International Marathon. Furthermore, John Gorvin was relentless for his communication and awareness of the event leading up to race day. In the end, SRR finished 2nd overall to GCS in the club championship which is quite the accomplishment among so many competitive teams. Full Results