Dare Mighty Things

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Pittsfield, VERMONT--The Death Race was my only DNF of the season. In fact, it was my first individual DNF in the 20 years I've been racing. So why lead a recap of the 2009 season with the most glaring failure of the year? I do it as a reminder that 'success' is a relative construct. Without failure, success doesn't exist. The Death Race was a tremendous experience despite the fact I didn't finish and it reminded me of the importance of perseverance. My competitive season runs from December through October. Although I realize there are a number of very interesting and tempting events in November I have found that I need 4-6 weeks to recover physically and mentally from nearly 11 months of training and racing. Not to mention, I need the time to get caught up on things around the house I've been ignoring for nearly a year. The 21 races I competed in during the '09 season was easily the most I have ever attempted. It was a fitting way to celebrate being 40 years old. And from a performance standpoint, it was the most successful as well as nearly every time out I met or exceeded expectations. The revamped training schedule, which included two "transition periods" during the competitive season, resulted in an injury-free high energy 2009. As daylight shortens and the leaves change here are my reflections on an incredible year;

Favorite Events
1. Pineland Farms 25k Trail Challenge
2. 24 Hours of Great Glen
3. Reach The Beach Relay

The events at the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge are billed as the toughest trail races in Maine. Having raced the MNT EPIC at Sunday River last month I'd perhaps question that assertion but there's no denying that for the third year in a row the PFTC is my favorite event of the year! The combination of an incredibly challenging course, great team competition, free beer, and BBQ make this race a pure winner and the first I schedule every year. The 24HOGG is a three day festival-like experience in an incredible setting with great teammates. The '09 version included both my son (Brayden) and my brother (Jay) along with teammates Ted Hall, Steve Sprague, Austin Stonebraker, Nick Pennell, and Steve Wolfe. The addition of RealTime scoring made the race incredibly interactive as the two aR entries raced each other back and forth from cannon to cannon. Karen and I have now raced the RTB Relay for four consecutive years. As exhausting as driving 200+ and running 20+ miles is, the team camaraderie at this race is unmatched. I can't wait for 2010!

Top Individual Performances
1. Pineland Farms 25k Trail Challenge (15th overall, 1:54:19, *PR*)
2. Big Lake 1/2 Marathon (20th overall, 1:27:01)
3. Bow Lake Dam 15k (10th overall, 1:02:12)

Setting a PR two years after the initial mark was satisfying enough, but doing it on this course made it special. Without a doubt, teammate Brent Tkaczyk made it possible as we raced together the entire time. Our early patience and his strong finish pulled us both to a Top 15 overall performance. The Big Lake 1/2 Marathon was the first road 1/2 marathon I've ever raced. Although familiar with the course, I had no idea what to expect from a performance standpoint. To run 6:39's and finish in the Top 20, 2nd in my age group, and 3rd overall master was more than I expected. The Bow Lake Dam 15k was run on my "home turf". I had trained on the course through the spring and battled some brutally cold wet weather. My training times always seemed slow as "the mile climb" seemed to take it's toll every time. On race day the running gods smiled on us with excellent weather. Racing with teammate Steve Wolfe we set a great early pace and raced near the front of the pack. I felt so good that it was only near the middle of "the hill" that I realized we were climbing! My 6:40 pace on this very hilly course and Top 10 finish were very satisfying.

Top Team Performances
1. Granite State Snowshoe Series (Champions)
2. Frigid Infliction (1st All Male)
3. Pineland Farms 25k Trail Challenge (2nd Team)

In the first year of the GSSS our aR teammates made a statement that we are the strongest snowshoe racing team in New England. Both outstanding individual performances and great team turnout resulted in our resounding victory. Racing with Austin & Jay, we finished on top of the podium for the second straight year at the Frigid Infliction Winer Adventure Race. At the Pineland Farms 25k Trail Challenge we finally finished on the podium behind the strong performances of Brent & Amy Tkaczyk as well as Ri Fahnestock.

One & Done
1. 6 Hours of Pats Peak
2. Gunstock Winter Triathlon
3. Muddy Moose 14-Miler

To be fair, these events were all very well run. The 6 Hours of Pats Peak was a great opportunity to race with my son Brayden, but we both felt the course wasn't one we were eager to ride again. Each loop included two brutal ski slope climbs. With all the awesome singletrack to ride in NH, using a ski slope seems a little unoriginal.

In the next few weeks I'll be planning my 2010 racing calendar and will announce my schedule right here.

UP NEXT: More rest...