Official time: 1:12:15. 7th overall. Results here.
Time again for the Run with the Beavers 10 Mile Trail held out in Nowheresville, Chepachet. It's a two loop course that features some great singletrack and a few dirt road sections to break it up. I did well in 2013 and was looking forward to trying to improve on last year's time. It was also the last race of the RI Triple Crown. Finally, there was a team aspect to this race. The Super Hammett Brothers dominated the last two years but with a strong contingent of WTAC runners expected, I thought we could give them a run for their money.
I didn't get much sleep in preparation for this race. I had a gig in East Greenwich the night before and didn't get to bed until 2 AM. Up at 5:45 AM and Ezri woke up soon after. Chris Garvin generously offered to pick Muddy and myself up which was a huge help as I no longer had to worry about operating a motor vehicle in my foggy, groggy state. The ride passed quickly with lively conversation and we got to the race about an hour early with the main lot already filling up.
We did a short warm-up and the conditions were great - not too hot/humid and the course was much dryer than last year. We had time to spare after the warm-up and spent it milling about in the shade and trash talking. Then Race Director Bob Jackman called us over to the dirt road and lined us up. Crutchley had brought a ringer for WTAC fresh out of high school - a tall, super fit looking dude named Tate. Would he displace me as the third WTAC runner? I hoped not but straight out of the gate he seemed fast. As the field took off it was the usual mad dash. I was working harder than I wanted right off the bat but I didn't want to have a lot of people in front of me when we took to the singletrack.
I was farther back than I wanted when we entered the woods and I spent the next mile passing people at opportune times. First a couple girls. Then some guy. Finally I went by the lead woman and another fellow, passing them on a dicey line over precarious rocks. That could've ended badly but luckily I survived the boulder dash and finally my place was settled for a while. Ahead of me was a another guy and then I could see Tate the Ringer beyond him. The pace seemed hard but manageable. The 2.5 mile water stop was ignored by the two guys ahead of me but I grabbed a cup on the way by. After the water stop is the longest dirt road section. It seems to go on forever and there's always a few more curves than I remember. The two guys in front entered the woods and just before I did I glanced back - no one behind me so the field was already pretty spread out.
I was running alone now - I could see the other guys up ahead occasionally but they seemed to be pulling away from me. However when I hit the last stretch of dirt road I had closed in on the guy ahead and I had no trouble passing him on the ascending road. Back in the woods the trail dips and then runs alongside the famous beaver pond. I closed the gap on a young high school kid who tried to match my pace as I passed before fading quickly. I pushed it on the next techy section and as I powerhiked to the top of the one steep hill I looked back to see no one.
After the climb the downhill was appreciated. I also appreciated the new start/finish area which gave spectators a chance to cheer you on as you passed. Reminded me of Pinelands and I salute Bob Jackman on the slight course change. As I began my second lap I caught up to yet another guy and passed him on the uphill dirt road. He stuck with me briefly but soon his footsteps faded. I didn't feel like I was flying up these dirt road climbs but it pleased me that I was able to maintain a pace that others apparently could not. Up ahead I could see Tate enter the singletrack. He hadn't complete lost me yet after all.
I was back in the woods, alone again. I was starting to get hot and quite thirsty. I tried not to think about the upcoming water stop as it was still two miles away but I couldn't help it. The trails continued to twist and turn and suddenly I realized that I was gaining on Tate. Just after six miles I caught up to him and followed him briefly before deciding to pass. I expected him to hang on to me but when I looked back a few minutes later he was gone. Finally I hit the water stop and it was glorious. I grabbed one cup to drink and another to dump on my head.
Then it was back to the longest dirt road stretch. There was a shirtless guy off in the distance. Jonny? Probably not. It was tough to not look back on this long section and I must admit I sneaked a peak. I saw someone way back there and tried to push it once I went around the corner out of sight. On and on I went, feeling hot and thirsty again. I was slowly gaining on shirtless guy. Definitely not Jonny. Making my way down past the pond, I began to pass those still working on their first lap. Now the clock watching began. I had finished in 1:14 last year - I thought I was on pace to beat that but it was hard to tell with the new finish and all.
The second time up the hill wasn't too bad and as I reached the top I had closed the gap on shirtless guy. But he put some distance on me on the downhill and I didn't threaten again. I came around into the finishing chute and saw the 1:12:xx on the clock. A two minute PR on a tough course! I was hot and tired. Grabbed a banana & water and made my way over to the guys to see how everyone did and cheer on those finishing.
After a few minutes everyone moved towards the feed tables. Gobbled up three bananas, several slices of pizza and thoughts of a cooldown faded into oblivion. Greg Hammett won the race handily for the third year in a row but the WTAC trio of Garvin/Muddy/Seth finally unseated Team Hammett Brothers and we each grabbed a couple bombers for the effort. In the end everyone seemed to walk away with beer and goodies so I'd call it a win for all (but especially for WTAC.)
Afterwards a quick but wonderful dip in the pond before we began the long drive home. I nodded off briefly in the car and came home to an empty house which I immediately took advantage of with a long nap. Thanks to Bob, Jackie and all the volunteers for making this a great race. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Triple Crown standings play out.