We got up early Saturday morning, hitched up the travel trailer and slowly made our way up to the mountains of western Maine for a busy weekend of racing. For reasons we may explain later we decided to have fun with pseudonyms.
Black Mountain of Maine 5k Trail Race, Rumford, ME
Our first event of the weekend was a 5k trail race we've been wanting to do for several years. We knew it was going to be small and low-key but it turned out to be pretty well organized and a fun but challenging course. Shauna came along to race as well as James with his daughter, niece and puppy. Rather than having us run up the downhill slopes this course was on the nordic trails, similar to Pineland in terms of the hills but with a slightly more technical surface.
At roughly the one mile mark there was a hefty old man in a plaid shirt calling out splits, 5:58 was what I heard, and although I didn't believe it I decided not to double check it against my watch. Trying not to get girled (even by my own wife which I knew was a bold attempt) I pushed hard through the hills, picked off a few of the younger boys and managed a 5th place finish (out of 44 competitors, many of them children).
Giant Parlin 20:39 1st in age group
Emma Barclay 21:18 2nd female overall
Shauna Baxter 22:37
James Demer 35:54 wore his VT 100 shirt which took the fun out of beating him
North American Wife Carrying Championship, Sunday River, ME
This was our second year taking part in this event, and despite having run a race just a few hours earlier we felt the need to improve on last year's performance. We were one of the last teams to register which meant we were one of the last to compete in a head-to head heat against another couple. This also meant that we got to see nearly everyone else run the course, but this didn't help to settle our nerves. It seemed that an unusually large percentage of "wives" were getting dropped or "husbands" collapsed, some at the hurdles, many in the water pit, even a few at the start line.
Our plan was soon revised, lets just get through this without going down. The couple we were paired up with were also runners, a rarity in this event actually. They took off fast and we chased, catching up at the first log hurdle but they strategically crossed in such a way as to prevent us from mounting until they had completed the obstacle. They were first to the water pit but we made up ground as we waded through the waste deep muddy water. We were almost neck and neck as we approached the second hurdle but once again our competitors got a leg up first and we were forced to climb over after they cleared the 39" high log. We put in a strong sprint to the finish but the course just wasn't long enough for us to catch the other team.
We never got to see our official time or finishing place overall, hopefully the results we be posted online soon. I was just happy to get through it without dropping Wolverine (Emma's alias, intended to psych out the competition). I'd like to see that other couple take us on after they've been married for 8 years, if they ever get married.
AUDIO SLIDE SHOW
A word of advice: if you're going to go out to dinner on Columbus day weekend in Bethel, make a reservation, or be prepared to drink a lot of beer while you wait for a table. We took the later option which turned out to be a good way to finish up the day. We got up Sunday morning feeling somewhat refreshed, but definitely looking forward to our third event of the weekend.
20th Annual Summit Challenge, Sunday River, ME
This was another race we've wanted to try but never got around to doing before this weekend. Although last year after the Wife Carrying we ran to the summit of Barker Mt. we weren't sure exactly what the course of this race was going to be, or even how long the race was. All we knew was that we had to get from South Ridge lodge to the summit of Locke Mt. We were surprised to find that the registration fee was only $8, and equally surprised that there were only 21 people lined up at the start for the 20th annual running of this race.
Within 1/4 mile it seemed that everyone had taken their place and not much changed the whole way up. Unlike some of the other mountain runs in New England with sadistic race directors this was a pretty easy uphill race with little to no walking required and several areas along the way that leveled out and allowed you to open up your stride, even if just for a few hundred feet. At a point when I could tell we were almost as high up as we could go the course turned from the dirt service road we had been on from the start onto a great section of single-track with all kinds of sharp and slippery obstacles to navigate. But I was right, we were near the summit and before long we popped out back onto the dirt road for a very short sprint to the finish line.
I was a bit disappointed that none of the 7 guys who finished ahead of me bothered to cheer me in, even though they were all sitting right there at the line looking fresh and relaxed. I was also disappointed that there wasn't even so much as a cup of water on offer at the finish. The only refreshments available were back down at the bottom of the mountain in the absurdly overpriced ski-lodge cafe. What do you expect for $8 ? Well, when only 21 people show up and 2 of them DNF there are a lot of prizes to go around. We both came away with nice fleeces, a pair of 1 day ski-passes and for finishing first female Emma (aka Gnarls Barclay) got a 2-day "ski and stay" package!
Giant Parlin 40:49 1st in age group
Gnarls Barclay 41:03 1st female
Annie Baxter 47:39 2nd female
Thanks for the photos Jim.