Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Merrimack River Trail Andover

[Cha-cha-cha-changes] The Merrimack River Trail Run course changed a bit this year. There included changes at 3.8 miles where the course approached the power lines with a longer but less steep incline. The course would continue with a horseshoe loop along a new trail and slowly migrate over to the edge of the river. Then the course would head back to the power line. The course would get back to the oncoming race around 5.7 miles. I liked the changes which pretty much retained the same distance as before (9.4 to 9.6 via GPS).

I got right on the start line, getting the pre-race “rules of the rivah” from race director Steve Peterson, long time CMS card carrying member since his days at UMass Lowell (home of the Chiefs back then). After the “ready, start, cayugah” I bolted out into the mud 25 ft onto the single track course. I settled in behind Patrick Rich in the field about a half mile away. I was comfortable with the pace. Colin Carroll passed me before we reached 2 miles.  I would keep that place for miles with Mike Luebeck from GLRR right on my heels through the powerlines and through the new trail loop.

Half mile in behind Patrick Rich and next to Dave Dunham
Photo by Rose Dunham Washak

I closed the gap that Colin had on me while I was now heading along the river and to and through the powerlines. I got on his heels for the closing miles only for him to open up a 17 second gap on me over the last mile or so. I caught up to and passed Michael Payson with a little more than a mile to go. Bob Jackman came into view but couldn’t find any energy to close the gap at the end. He finished 13 seconds ahead of me. CMS won with the top five runners (Patrick Rich 3rd, Tim Van Orden 4th, Colin Carroll 5th, Robert Jackman 6th, and I in 7th) combining with 5:21:52 over Team Gloucester with 6:22:23 for their top 5 runners.

You will note that I and 3 out of 10 runners (Colin and Mike for example) that I see on the Strava Flyby missed a turn with a few miles to go. We got back on the course shortly after the turn (we were actually on the old course) but we all covered the same distance but a few feet less of elevation? At any rate, I was pretty happy with the effort, decent finishing place of 7th overall, 5th master, and I broke 65 minutes (1:04:57) which seems decent within my history on the course. The race was rare for me to be chasing someone down and having company in the 2nd half of the race. 

7th place at the end
Photo by Rose Dunham Washak

Looking back, the course was pretty dry with the exception of a few hops over drainage basins.
Brett and I hung out after the race for the famous raffle prizes picked out of a hat and a call for the name if present. I did not score anything but enjoyed the laughs had by all as “Petey” gave out funny prizes bought at Market Basket that related to the letter of the Alphabet.

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