Ascutney 5 and Dime Race Report

Saturday (6-8) was the official first race of the 2013 Western New Hampshire Trail Race Series. It has been raining fairly steadily for the last few days, so this event was certain to be a dirty day.
Disregarding the directions on how to get to the venue, I took a different route that allowed me to look at the mountain. I learned to ski here, back in the 70’s. My Uncle Allen took me here several times; I remember one time that we stayed in one of his friend’s houses and I had a nasty cold. Cherry Sucrets. Ew. There was also the time where Charles Bronson cut us off in the lift line and I thought my Uncle was going to cross check him. He didn’t. Then there was the time when the lift attendant held the chair a bit TOO long. When he let go we were launched out of the chair, through the air, and then down onto the ground. I think that the lift attendant had to go change his ski pants…
OH! and how can i forget the time when I went skiing there with my cousins. HAHAH…yea. They are all uber-skiers. You know, the kind that actually had lessons once upon a time and know what they are doing? Yep. that’s them. Even though I am a bit older than them, they still had NO PROBLEM making fun of me on the slopes…but we had a great time. I hope they still remember that day…
The ski area has since gone bankrupt, which is a shame. It offered a convenient, low cost and challenging area for ‘locals’ (and the occasional relatives from CT!). The start/finish for the Vermont 50 is here, and they have some other events in the summer as well.
Approaching, I could tell that the day was going to be fantastic…most of today’s race course was in the clouds on the upper right of the picture. I was a bit early, so I took a little nap in the truck to calm my nerves.IMG_20130608_073531_442 The parking lot filled quickly, and soon there was no room for more. I am very impressed with the volunteers at these events; they are organized, helpful, and seem genuinely happy to be involved! Bib pick-up was a breeze, port-a-johns plentiful and CLEAN, and there was ample room to stay out of the mud and stretch if you wanted. I stood around watching other people, staring at ants on the ground, and generally trying to figure out what the heck i was doing there. I always get into that frame of mind until about 2 miles into each event. I recognize it, say hello, give it a little thought, and then start to enjoy myself…
Here is a ‘before’ picture. IMG_20130608_084908_107I tried to keep my feet as dry as I could for as long as I could. This ended up being less than half a mile, as I stepped into a hole that I thought was actually a clump of grass in the middle of a wet and swampy area of the trail.
The Start/Finish was right at the edge of the parking area. In this shot, you can nearly make out the trail as it turns to the left not far after the start.IMG_20130608_090347_964 After winding through the field for about a quarter mile, we headed into to woods behind some condos. A small sign on a tree said, “quiet. humans nesting” which i chuckled at; it made me want to WHOOP WHOOP! but I didn’t. Instead I just plugged along and stepped aside to let some people pass me. I think that I started out a bit too fast but I can never tell. The first 2 miles always leave me wondering WHY I run. We soon headed down some switchback single track and then back UP into the woods. The trails were very well marked and well maintained; crew had been out in the rain the day before making sure that there were no blow downs from the storm. As seen on the map, Deer Run and Gracie’s Loop (until Falls from Grace) are UPHILL. Big time. LOTSA walking, sucking wind, and cursing here. WOW. After a rolling descent that wound through a boulder field (glacial erratics) the 5k runners merged onto the 10k course for a little while. Very scenic waterfall in this area, and the brook was flowing nicely. Of note, the final section of the Vermont 50 goes by this waterfall, too, but in the other direction. Soon we split from the 5k course; nice volunteers were there at the split. I was running with a 5k runner at that point and the volunteer said, “5k, down to the field. 10k…UP THE HILL!!” Of course. The trail is called Coronary. I nearly found out why. Yowza. It was long and steep. At this point the outsides of my shins were on FIRE. Up Up we went. Ever up. Holy wack-a-moles. There was a mom running with her 10-ish year old son, and we kept trading places on the trail. He was doing a great job. They both were, actually. I had passed them at one point, and was starting to pick up some speed along a level section when BAM! i tripped over an unseen root and fell smack down on my hands and knees into the mud. Luckily I did’t land on any rocks and was able to keep going without much trouble. Shortly after that I could see them below me on a switchback. They’d stopped and he was taking off his shoes. He ran along for about a half mile barefoot. They passed me, and every once in a while I could see his footprint in the mud. A few others passed me through this section as I just couldn’t get my legs to ease up. FINALLY we got to two more volunteers. I said, “Lemme guess. UP?” They laughed and said, “NO! all downhill from here!”Ascutney 5 and dime
SAWEEEEET. I love me some downhill. During the winter series i didn’t get passed on a downhill and I wasn’t about to let that change here. I had some people to PASS!!! Mom and son stopped soon so he could put his shoes on. I said hello and just kept on running. Not long into the downhill (slick, muddy, rooty, rocky) I came upon two women. One about my age, one a few years older. They were going at a good pace, but a bit more conservatively than I wanted. Problem was…nowhere to pass! Narrow single track, close trees, drop offs…oh, my! How long would this last??? Thankfully we broke out onto an old logging road, and I knew I’d have to pass quickly. I dashed wide to the right, not really able to see what was ahead. OH MY GOODNESS! the road disappeared into a HUGE PUDDLE about 30 feet long and as wide as the whole road. I didn’t slow down, but actually sprinted through it. SPLASH SPLASH SPLASH!! The ladies must have thought I was nuts. The next mile or so was more sloppy narrow single track, then it broke out into a field. The view was incredible. I felt very fortunate to have been able to see that sight today. Idyllic Vermont at its best. I gave a few seconds thought to trying to get a picture, but had no idea how close the ladies were, so I kept going. The field went on FOREVER before we ducked back into the woods for a bit. Back out into a field, which turned out to be right behind the farm that marks the last aid station for the Vermont 50. After taking a right, we met up with the OUT portion of the trail and back tracked to the start/finish. IMG_20130608_103932_062There was no one close enough in front of me to catch, and no one close enough behind who would catch me, so I started to take it easy a bit. Then i thought….NO!! RUN YOU SILLY SOD…RUN FASTER!!! So I did. It was a great time! I crossed the mucky finish line, grabbed some orange slices and a handful of potato chips then headed to the truck. The backs of my legs showed that I had a splendid time en course.

I am very much looking forward to next weekend’s race; it is held at the same place where I had my one and only (so far) DNF. That was a different event, at a different time. Next weekend will be redemptive!

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