Krissy and I headed out to Holden and the home of Stephen Laska who was hosting a post-race BBQ. He lives .3 miles away from the Fred Warren road race which is listed as 5.5 miles. 54 years have gone by with the race on the calendar. I have seen it on the Central Mass Striders list of races for years as they host, run, and time it. Both Stephen Laska and Kim Gordon have done a solid job on the social media to promote the race. When I asked Krissy if she would consider the race, given that it is on a Sunday evening, she was game.
We parked at Stephen’s house and walked down to the race. CMS just started to set up the registration tent. I helped (or got in the way) Jorge Landeo set up the club banner on the tent. The race is an ol’ fashion throwback to offer a scant $15 for a challenging course, a t-shirt, official results (still waiting for them to be posted), et cetera. I did not do any research on the course and profile so I got filled in from the CMS locals. In short, hills, plenty of them, period. Enough said. Maybe 75 runners lined up for the 6:30 start.
I went out hard, taking the race out with a generous downhill, in 5:41. No other takers so it was me chasing the patient police car up and down the rolling hills. The foot steps behind me went silent before mile 2. There was a volunteer at each mile marker, calling out the time. There was also a volunteer at each of the (maybe five turns overall on the course). It would be hard to get lost. Mile two slowed down to a 6:09 because of, some hills.
The rolling hills and evening shade reminded me of the roads in Hamilton and Wenham (Weiner Run) out of Asbury Grove and through Bradley Palmer. Mile 3 rolled off the road and onto a paved trail leading past the Holden Reservoir. As I exited the path, a sharp right hand turn and hill slapped me in the chops. I was warned about this hill so I joked with the volunteer if this is where I start cursing?
I crawled up the hill and through mile four with a, might as well retire, 6:39 split. The reward was a view of Wachusett Mountain at 4.5 miles. I did not expect that so it was nice.
After the sight-seeing finished, it was time to roll down the hill. I did so in 5:31. The problem though was two shadows gaining on me. I was not in the mood to mix it up and kick to the line. I was a hurtin’ puppy and the two Wachusett Regional kiddos took no mercy, passing me before the last right hand turn as the course leveled out for a fast finish. I threw in a surge to pull even with them and make it a race. One of them broke down but the other (Isaac) was up for the battle to the line. I showed my cards and put them on the table. I had a losing hand and threw in.
The Wachusett lads crossed the line holding hands. Four seconds later, I crossed the line for 3rd. Hey, 1st master right? It was all good. I congratulated the kids. Isaac turned out to be Tom Steele’s son. Tom and I warmed up before the race and I talked him into racing for CMS earlier this year. We went off for a cool down and he got me up to speed on his son’s talents – a 10:02 2 miler this past winter for Wachusett Regional. Good stuff. Let’s hope we see these lads in CMS uniforms in the future!