"The greatest achivement of the human spirit is to live up to one's opportunities, and make the most of one's resources." -Vauvenargues
Madbury, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- Brayden and I headed over to Kingman Farm early this morning to ride the Broken Boulder Dash course I had set the night before. There were a handful of flags pulled and replaced but all in all everything seemed to be in place. By the time we got back to the trailhead Michael and Alex had arrived and were setting up. Today's race was a 3C Race Productions event, but aR (ie. me) had been hired to design and mark the course. A really easy task considering that 90% of the course was identical to our Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race. As competitors began to arrive it appeared that the field would be rather small, but enthusiastic nonetheless. I had made the decision to race as soon as we were asked to help with the event. Measuring at 5.5 km it would be my shortest trail race of the year. Generally speaking I've attempted to avoid these distances for two reasons; 1.) I'm not very fast and 2.) fast is something I'm not. But because I was already there, knew the course, and needed to put a run in this weekend I figured I'd give it a go. After I gave the course description and Michael gave the command to step to the line to my surprise there were very few takers. The usual cast of characters (including teammates and friends) that dominate me and the rest of the Top 10 weren't around. As the "RUNNERS READY..." command was given I realized that I had been presented with a very unique opportunity. With "GO!" I led the field of 44 from the parking lot into the Kingman Farm trail network to race the course I had designed. Having never been in the front of the field at any race I was actually a little unsure as to how to race from that position. The course begins to climb the shoulder of Hick's Hill within the first few minutes of the start and early on I could sense someone(s) close behind. By the time I reached the main doublewide track I stopped hearing footsteps and attempted to settle into a comfortable, but hard, pace so as not to give back what I had worked hard to establish. Just as I reached the low point of the course I could feel (and hear) someone close on me. When I looked back over my left shoulder I realized it was fellow snowshoe competitor Phil Erwin of New Durham, NH. Phil is a very talented snowshoe/trail/mountain runner and happens to be in my age group (40-45). But for everything he has going for him, he's not familiar with the Kingman Farm property. As we raced, he off my left shoulder, I started to get the feeling he was using my knowledge of the trails to his advantage and was waiting for his chance to strike. When we reached the start of Hick's Hill we were almost side by side. After the first prelude, a gentle little climb, the course narrows to the switchback singletrack where passing would be difficult on both the ascent and descent. If Phil was going to challenge I knew he may have missed his opportunity in the open fields. As we began the climb I felt him slip back as I pushed hard silently grateful of my many repeats up Mt. Blue Job. As I negotiated the steep and narrow switchback descent I stole a couple of glaces back to determine how much time I had gained. But to my surprise Phil was nowhere to be seen? I assumed that I had put some time on him in the up but couldn't have imaged I would have gapped him so significantly. A few quick looks back in the last 200 meters showed no other contenders and I cruised across the finish line in first place with a time of 23:12. As soon as I finished I heard a voice call out from a few meters away, "What happened?!". It was Phil. He had finished a minute or so ahead of me as a result of a missed switchback. I'm not sure who felt worse, me as the course setter, or Phil for missing a chance to catch and pass me on the singletrack descent? Opportunities for a race win are few and far between for a 41 year old trail runner like me. In fact, as far as I can recall, it's the first race I've ever won. I really wish that every runner had the chance to feel what it feels like to race at the front of the pack. It was really, really cool and really, really hard but easily one of the most special experiences I've had in my very fortunate athletic life.
PS. aR had a very good day for a very light showing with Austin Stonebraker in the Top 10 (6th), Timmy Lindsey in the Top 20 (18th), and Gary Reuter 27th overall.
Broken Boulder Dash RESULTS
NEXT UP: Bradbury Mountain Breaker
2016: Year in Review
3 months ago