|(L-R) Bon Swarthout, Jason Massa, Chris J. Dunn, |
Jeremiah Fitzgibbon, Rich Lavers
[Photo courtesy Craig Poirier]
Amesbury, MA -- Getting to the top is hard, but staying on top is even more difficult. Particularly when you lose two teammates within 72 hours of a two-time title defense. aR had made two previous trips to the Hoppin' Mad Mud Run and walked away with two 5-person team titles in this challenging 10k obstacle course race...well, more like a 5k road race followed by a 5k obstacle course race. And without a doubt that first roughly 5k on the road has played to our advantage. Obstacle course competitors, for the most part, aren't necessarily all that keen on fast 5k road races. But to take home the cash prize you've got to do what you've got to do. Title defenses are indeed impressive particularly when you bring a different team each year. This year was no exception. Bob and Jeremiah would join our 5-person team for the first time (Bob's 2nd HMMR and Jeremiah's 1st). Rich, Jason, and myself had all returned from 2011. Actually, both Bob and Jeremiah were very lat minute additions with the late scratches of both Phil Erwin and Ryan Welts who were both injured less than a week before the event. As in 2011, we were seeded in the "elite" first heat assuring we'd have a clean run at the course. Again, the first 2.5+ miles were on the road as we worked our way to the back of the event property. Predictably the field went out fast at the start command. Almost immediately our group of 5 was mixing it up toward the middle and back of the top 10. As the first mile progressed however, many of those eager obstacle course racers began to fall back. I led our team of 5 through the first mile in 5:44ish. The second mile rolled a little and was a bit slower as we approached the last uphill segment of road before heading onto the farm. By this time Bob and I were running side by side with Jason, Rich, and Jeremiah in tow. The first few obstacles were basically the same as before including a handful of high/low hurdles and 5' walls. When we approached the steep 200 meter uphill/downhill lollipop (covered in a tarp with dish liquid in 2011) we found a pile of tires. Selecting one we carried it up, around, and down the lollipop. Jason had effortlessly moved around Bob and I on the walls and we both watched him run up the steep grassy hill with the tire over his shoulder. I opted for the powerhike also putting a little distance on Bob in what he would later note as my "old man strength". An important change to the event was how the teams were timed and scored. This year we would all be independently chip timed with our 5-person average time as our overall team "score". Without the shackles of dragging us through the course, aR's expert obstacle course warrior Jason Massa ripped through each challenge and actually appeared to get stronger as the race progressed finishing 2nd overall! Bob and I continued to race side-by-side through mud pits, low crawls, high crawls, agility tires, 45 degree rope assisted ramp climbs, and cargo netting. Despite a couple of navigation foibles were managed to stay in the Top 10 overall with Bob finishing 5th and me finishing 7th overall in 47:00. Rich was close behind in 8th and Jeremiah in 13th. With 4 of our 5 in the Top 10 we easily took the 5-person team title again. It's very likely we'll be back to defend again...I'm just not sure who it'll be?!
NEXT UP: Pineland Farms 25k Trail Race