I had the opportunity to run a 15 mile solo trail race last weekend on May 3rd that I did back in 2007 as well. In 2007 it was a first year race and everyone got lost in the middle of it because some moron out walking his dog thru Mendon decided to pull down all the markers that had been hung in trees signifying the course we were supposed to follow. Regardless it was a blast of a race (good friends, fun trails, mud, water, competition…I mean what else could you ASK for?!) and I was stoked to be able to do it again.
That morning I woke up and wasn’t feeling all too excited to race. A little nervous and jittery to be exact. I knew there was to be some stiff competition from a guy that I normally swim with at Masters who is also an excellent trail runner and even on the EMS national adventure racing team. We both had an eye out for each other and knew we could give one another a run for our money.
Well, I got to the race site early and picked up a packet and mumblings were going on about how Jeff Beck, a former SUNY Geneseo teammate of mine was there and Neal Holschute was also present at the race site that morning and ready to rumble on the trails. I first encountered Neal from his days at Williams College in Massachusetts (I doubt he remembers me) but GXC travelled every year to do the Williams Invitational mostly because those guys were sick competition. Neal was wicked fast even back in college. So with the “wonder twins” at the race site, I kinda figured we would all be racing for 3rd place…
We all get to the start and Mort’s giving his normal pre-race chat explaining that there are 3 distinct loops and to follow each color for each loop thru the woods. They had bright colored trail ribbons hanging from the trees so it was easy to spot the trail when it was properly marked. Gun goes off and we’re all joking and running. The usual crew of T$, Matthews, Hatch, Howland and the rest of the folks were there, along with some other good competition including Matt Keefe and Kurt Spacher. We went out at a moderate pace and by the time we hit the single track, Jeff, Neal, Jim Mollosky and I were pretty much separated from the rest of the race. We gapped it pretty quickly. Jeff and I were catching up over the first few miles and he said things were going well with coaching in Fredonia and was inquiring about Ironman Lake Placid to see if he was going to be up in the ADK’s the same time as he was scouting for JOTC. Turns out he’s gonna be, so I hope he pops by to check out the chaos of IM.
Anyway, back to the race, about 3-4 miles in, it’s getting a little hard for me to talk so I let Jeff and Neal pull away (well I actually didn’t LET them, they just kinda ran easier and much faster than I was) and I slowed up a little. Jim was caught in a gap between the twins and I so he was in no mans land. We finished the first of 3 five-or-so-mile loops and went thru the pond and got thoroughly soaked very quickly. I almost lost my balance in the water and it was a little cold so I’m glad I kept it upright!
Loop two was nicer, a few more rolling hills and turns and a little more single track (if memory serves me correctly. About a mile in, I hear someone coming up on me and I look back and it’s Jim Mollosky from Buffalo, NY who was ahead of me prior to the start of loop 2. I thought he had changed his shoes after the pond (would have been smart) but he had just followed the pink ribbons instead of the orange ones for the 2nd loop. He went a little out of the way it seemed and he was kinda pissed about it.
We were bombing thru loop two and suddenly out of the blue we saw Jason Urkfitz, Matt Keefe and Kurt Spacher coming TOWARDS us in the woods. This made me very uneasy because I was feeling good and have a tendency to be directionally challenged. We ran for about another mile before we realized that they were the ones going in the wrong direction and we were okay. Made my heart jump a bit though…and I was upset that they had made the wrong turn (we’ve ALL been there before, I have MANY times) But, Jim and I were running along for about 3-4 miles and I let him soft pass me a few times and I did the same to him to see where his legs were. I know Mendon pretty well and when I realized that we were getting close to the start of the 3rd loop, I put in a surge because I thought I could hold a higher pace than he could over the next 10k-ish loop. I was running scared on the 3rd loop. As I said before we were all racing for 3rd place and I was in it right at this moment. It was my race to lose at this point. I knew that for the 3rd loop Mort was going to take us up the side of Cardiac Hill again like in 2007, so I was saving a little extra mojo for that in the tank. I kept on trying not to look over my shoulder too much to gauge where Jim was, but I could feel that I really couldn’t shake him. I was throwing everything that I could at him and trying to accelerate around turns so that I was out of sight and out of mind.
Somehow I managed to hold him off and was able to sneak in for a 3rd place overall finish behind Neal and Jeff (Jeff was less than a minute ahead, but he apparently lost a shoe in the mud pit near the 12 mile marker - so I’m sure at that point he eased up) But yeah, Jim came in about a minute in arrears to me and it was an overall REALLY fun and muddy run. The post race BBQ and festivities are always a blast there and the sun came out and we all got into dry clothes and relaxed over food while soaking up the vitamin D. I met some cool new folks, hung out with some old friends, had some fantastic food and stayed there laughing and joking pretty much until about 1-2pm from an 8am start of the race. All in all a great day. I ended up winning a pair of Darn Tough socks and a gift certificate for 3rd place overall which was nice. Medved always puts on great races and I know they’re all trail geeks at heart who love to just get out there and play like I do.
Disclaimer; I was pretty BROKEN after this race for a few days. My arms were already sore from demolishing Brian Matthews’s garage and swinging around a sledgehammer for the majority of the previous afternoon. That combined with a REALLY fast and long trail race made for a pretty broken body for this tired soul. I’ve recovered and will likely get the details up of the last few weeks of training whenever I can. Until then folks, JFT and get out there regardless of the weather and play. I will be… :o)