Official time: 53:38 6th overall. Results here.
The third race of Mike Galoob's winter trail series is always a fun one. After a couple 5ks the distance doubles and there are often truly winter conditions to contend with. This year was no exception - after a quiet and (mostly) snowless winter, we got a good half foot the day before and so it would be another snow covered race. This is a good thing as this is what the series is all about.
My training had been spotty over the last few weeks with an sore ankle but I showed up in good spirits and ready to race. It was pretty cold - in the teens and there was a brisk wind whipping over the pond. I had on the Salomon Speedcross and intended to run with just them but after a warm up along the pond I encountered enough ice to justify the microspikes. I threw them on after a half mile and felt they had much more grip on the way back. Probably overkill but they were definitely helpful for the icy spots.
I met up with folks just before the race began. I had on my tights but Crutch, Jonny, Jeff and others represented with just shorts (including one guy in nothing but shorts, yikes!). At the start I quickly found myself in third following Jonny and Brightman along the single broken trail. I was probably working harder than I should have and I slowed after a bit. Soon Gazelle went by me followed by another guy.
The course turns onto some hilly singletrack that runs alongside the pond and I was already feeling worn out. I tried to stay behind the others through this section but had to pass one of 'em on the hills as he was slowing down. Once we reached the rail bed I could see that Walker and company were already well ahead. The footing was better here but I wasn't able to get any closer. Andrew Neil went by and I tried to not let him get too far ahead. I was hopeful that I would be able to make up ground along the Route 4 section where there's usually choppier snow which favors me.
The Route 4 section was indeed choppier but not a sufferfest as in a previous year. Andrew aka the Red Chicken had passed the only guy ahead I wasn't familiar with but I was making any ground on this mystery man. I was now very much in no man's land, well off the others and no one very close behind. As the course turns back turns towards the powerlines I could see Jon Short not too far behind and tried to find another gear. The race now featured another section of park- the relatively newer "Middle trail." This twisty section was slow going and when the course veered back towards the far parking lot I had a sense that this version of the course was going to run long. I could still see Neil and mystery man up ahead and I held out hope that I could catch them during the next singletrack section.
The twisty stuff along this side of the pond was equally slow going and I only occasionally caught a glimpse of one of the other racers up ahead. By the time I returned to the rail trail I could see them way up ahead and knew I had no chance to catch them. I tried to pick up the pace on this somewhat more packed down section of trail but I was running out of steam. There wasn't anyone close to me so I didn't have any motivation to kill myself on the last section of hills and roots.
I came through the finish in 6th place. I was worried that mystery man was running for Rhode Runners but luckily he was unaffiliated and the WTAC men grabbed their first win of the series. After a cooldown with Jon Short and some award presentations I joined a group over at the Oak Hill Tavern. Another great winter race in the books!