I ran over to the eighth annual Stone Tower 15K race and forked over the $25 spot. I have run this race the last few years, I never got a sniff of a win, always turning into a mess in the closing miles. If you run this course right, your legs should be junk on the 3rd climb up Stone Tower. A new face to my racing surroundings, Patrick Caron decked in a Janji racing kit, jumped into the lead right away. His plastic spike plates were clicking against the paved driveway into Lynn Woods. Meanwhile, I was well aware of John Dudley (multiple time winner of the Stone Cat Trail Marathon) on my heels. I stayed close to Patrick, some would say shadow, but respected his pacing so I gave him room to guide John and I through the first 25 minutes (3.78 miles).
It was then that he missed a right hand turn for which I yelled for him. My lead was short lived, as he sprinted by within 400 meters. I could see him struggle a bit with the footwear choice on the rocks and steps up Dungeon Rock. I kept a good cadence, never took my vision above the lid of my hat, thus never knew how far or close I was from the top. Didn’t care. I had to just stay close to Patrick and respect John a few seconds behind us. We bounced into some tight single track before the 2nd pass by Stone Tower and saw Patrick’s pace quicken down the hill.
I created an opportunity to change it up a bit and passed him at 5.5 miles climbing up a hill where I felt he was tiring. This set me up nicely to lead us down, into, and through the Undercliff Trail. This is my favorite part of Lynn Woods. It is, however, the most dangerous trail to race through. It is a single track rocky section with cut logs that can be slippery. As I navigated away from Patrick, I heard him spill, hard. So hard that I stopped, looked back, and yelled “are you OK man?” I heard a grumble and saw him getting up on his feet. Thus I continued on, quick cadence to get out of there and see if I could get some room between us. We had about three miles left in the race. He bounced back nicely, as in, back on my heels up some tricky stuff where I no doubt was dragging ass with 2.5 miles to go.
We got onto the goat path and took a right at the end of it. I kicked down the hill and took a left into some single track heading up to Steel Tower. I got some room. The sound of silence behind me was nice. I had to continue to press, hard, get some room because one last climb up Stone Tower awaited ahead. I hauled ass, doing my best up and over it afraid to look back with less than a mile to go. I finished hard, not wanting to open a door to let him back in. It worked, and I rolled down into the finish for my first win at the Stone Tower 15K, 59:15. Patrick rolled in, bloody, at 59:53. John followed in just over an hour. Looking back, it was good battle but had Patrick had better footwear, not wiped out, I am confident he would have been right there in contention all the way to the finish.
|Patrick Caron and I|
Photo by Brett Rickenbach
1. James Pawlicki 59:16
2. Patrick Caron 59:53
3. John Dudley 1:01:01
654 (Stone Tower climb)
743 (Dungeon Rock steps)
59:17 8.83 miles per GPS
History of my Stone Tower races:
Year Place Time
2015 1 59:16
2014 2 1:00:22
2013 3 1:00:40
2012 2 58:57 (Greg Fullman from Arlington ran 56:03, must be a CR!)