Thursday, April 15, 2010

Merrimack River 10 mile trail race (aka the Rivah)

I was not going to race the Rivah this year because it got the best of me last year putting me on the disabled list for most of early 2009 and sending me into aqua running and cycling training mode for a majority of the spring/summer with bone spur/plantar issues. But, it being a CMS event and co directed by Steve Peterson and Dave Dunham (two fellow ULowell teammates) as well as raising money for track schlarships in memory of our late friend, Tom Chamberas (Chelmsford '81/ULowell '85), the Rivah lured me in again for the 4th straight year.

Going into the race, my training had been very consistent and I have consciously limited my races to better maximize (hopefully) my effort for the future. My plan for the 10 miler was to get as close to my PR of 62:55 (2009) and try to outrace the masters field. Defending champion Dan Verrington was in Wisconsin for the 100k US Championships so Scott Clark (CMS/Keene State '87) stepped in to do battle on the famed Merrimack River out and back course. It was Scott's first run ever on the difficult course and he asked me on our 2 mile warmup what the course was like and I told him what to expect. Its basically 3 flat early miles followed by 4 brutally difficult hilly miles and then 3 flat miles.

Since I am posting this report a few days after the race (and erasing my splits) my recall of mile times is vague but I do remember getting out well and hitting the short mile in 5:17 and the 2 mile in about 11:15 and mile 3 in about 17:35. I was leading the masters and felt really strong heading to the 4th mile (24:15) as we made our way up Power Line Hill. I was in 6th place overall and hit the turnaround in 31:30 (accurate) and had about a 20 second on a fast and strong Scott Clark.

Going back at Power Line Hill, I was feeling the effort and wanted to be careful on the steep descents but also did not want to let up because I had the sense Scott was closing (even though I never looked back). I worked every climb as hard as I could and pressed on. At about mile 8 (eerily familiar to last year's battle w/ Dan V) Scott caught me and encouraged me to go with him which I did until the little uphill you take as you straddle the River (right before the bridge that Steve Wolfe was taking photos). From there until the finish Scott put 22 seconds on me and debuted with a fine 63:13. For the 2nd straight year, I was masters runnerup finishing up in 63:35 (40 seconds off last year's effort). I am really happy with the effort considering my high mileage of late and also with the wind being a bit of a factor (headwind both ways). Also, my splits for the 5 mile were really close (31:30/32:05). I have often thought the final 5 is actually a faster route than the 5 going out and wonder what it would be like if you raced the course backwards. Food for thought.

Up front, Kevin Tilton held off Ben Nephew for the win and CMS runners Tom Brown and Jim Pawlicki both finished in the top 5.

The race was well handled by Peterson and Dunham (with numerous volunteers) and everyone who raced seemed to have a great time enjoying post race bagels and chili and witnessing Petey's antics with prize duties and raffles!

Thanks to JJ, MQ, Scott Mason, Krissy K, Steve Wolfe , Rose W.and Jamie Doucette for their efforts taking pictures and filming the race.

above pictures courtesy of Scott Mason (top) and JJ, located on power line hill coming back
not a pretty sight (the river is pretty, though)


  1. Sorry about screwing up the links. Too tired to fix right now. Will try later.

  2. Actually, JJ took that photo, not me. Easy to get confused with all the lenses out there.