The snow started to fall before Dan Vassallo picked me up. We were heading to the Assault on Mount Hood 3.5 cross country race in Melrose. It was going to be fun. I have not raced on snow and with it falling in a long time without snowshoes. We got to the Mount Hood golf course soon enough and did a warm up out on the golf course sort of checking out the first two miles with Dan and Scott Mindel before I headed back to get into the racing gear. I carefully hand-picked a Brooks Puregrip 4 and was impressed with the traction on the snow covered grass which accumulated 2 inches. However, the cart paths or any pavement were sketchy at best. We had a team of three and felt decent for a CMS team win.
The race immediately went down a hill. I saw a few people fall - in a safe slow motion kind of way. I was pretty careful to keep on my feet and stay away from those sliding down the hill on their asses. It was quite funny. I scored a guy from Mystic Runners a 8.0 on his tumble. Being as cautious as I was buried me behind at least 40 runners. I worked to move into the top 20 over the next mile. I saw several orange singlets ahead from Cambridge Sports Union (CSU). I recognized Kevin Delaney and Terry McNatt. I ended up battling them for a while. Terry was quick and fearless down the hills. I was able to close any deficit up the hills. The footwear I had on was impressive for the traction but was crap on any pavement. I went out of my way to run on the grass even if it caused me to not get the best line or tangent.
The race had a tough climb toward the Mount Hood tower but never approached the base of it. As the race started to decline into mile three, Kevin was going after Terry and I followed with astutely. However, once we hit the driveway with 400m to go, I had to downshift into defensive mode. I lost any and all battles going into the downhill finish. Kevin and Terry ran 22:50 and 51 to my 22:56 (20th place). I went through the finish chute and confirmed that Scott and Dan went 1-2 overall. We immediately changed into some warm clothes and ran over the course for a cool down.
Upon return, there was plenty of beer, pasta, salad, bread, and chowder for everyone. In a bit of a surprise, our team never got called up as one of the top three open teams, hence striking out on reclaiming the top team as CMS has done in the past. After the awards, we approached the race director, Brian who is as cool as it gets. After researching the team entry forms, he found ours but it never got entered. He immediately let us pick out any Nutcracker on the table. And we did.
|CMS polar bears: Dan, Scott, and I|
|Polar Beverages getting free adverisement|
|Yes, Mount Hood Beer Glass, Nutcracker, and limited edition "Straight Outta Peabody" brew|
|Dan with the spiffy Nutcracker pick up|
|Hardware for the day|