Thanks once again to Jeff for stepping up at the last minute to organize a great run on some gnarly trails with fantastic post-race bacon festival. Well, I guess it wasn't Jeff's intention to have a bacon festival but that's kinda how it turned out. Sorry to James for meating up your vegetarian griddle, I guess we got carried away.
Since the "race" wasn't starting until 9 and it was only 5 miles I decided to run the course early so I met up with Jim and Carter and we tried to find our way around. I knew roughly where the course went but somehow ended up leading the way in the opposite direction from what Jeff intended. Whatever, it was just a warm-up. Okay, it was a little more than a warm-up. With some big hills the ups were a little demanding and the downs were a little fast so it ended up feeling like more of a proper run than a warm-up. We ended up cutting the course a little bit short and got back sooner than we wanted to which meant we had to stand around in the cool morning air letting everything tighten up while we waited for others to arrive.
distance: 4.9 miles
By 9:00 Jeff, James, Jamie, Ryan, Mindy, Dora, Jon and Erik had arrived and Jeff proceeded with a lengthy course description that seemed to have the effect of making it much less clear about where to go. And no laminated maps this time. Randy also came out to help with the event and I found a perfect job for him to do, manning the adult beverage aid station which was to be located at the top of the toughest climb on the course.
What Jeff failed to mention at the time was his strategy for winning the race:
1. Host a race on your home course with lots of turns and hills so you know where to turn and when to slow down and when to hit the gas 2. Have said race on Boston Marathon weekend so that 1/2 the field is away 3. Only invite friends that train for 100 mile runs, but make sure the race is no more than 5 miles. 4. Be sure to encourage entrants to run the course just before the race to "get to know the course".
5. Run hard and hope #1-4 did their job!
We set off on a short uphill stretch of paved road and the pace felt like an ordinary group run. But when we took the first turn onto trail Jeff really took off and it was clear that he was racing. Carter, James and i did our best to hang on but Jeff pulled away. The only time I got close to him after that was when he stopped to adjust one of the course markings and the bottom of a hill, but he then got away on the up. James and I later agreed that he was intentionally doing this just to mess with us.
The course featured some of the most varied terrain you could hope to find in a 5 mile course. There was narrow single-track through the forest, steep grassy hills, sand and gravel, thick black mud, knee deep puddles, and gnarly rocky terrain. The hills were steep enough that going down you felt on the verge of getting out of control and on the way up you realized it was probably quicker just to walk than try to run.
At the top of the famous "Three Sisters" hill (aka "Three Bitches") Randy was waiting behind a row of dixie cups each half filled with thick, black, Allen's Coffee Brandy. Just before we set off on the run I announced that anyone who took a drink from Randy would be rewarded with a 30 second deduction from their race time. Despite gasping for air when we reached the top of the hill almost everyone took the drink, and I think most people came away saying "what the hell was that?" Not true Mainers I guess.
It was going up this hill that Jeff really gained some distance from me and James started to pull away. I thought I was running pretty well but James just took off like he actually expected to catch Jeff going up. Carter and I were pretty much together going up, I think I just barely beat him to the top but when we started the descent he was able to get his legs to turn over faster than mine as we negotiated the loose rubble, sheer rock faces and water crossings.
James and Jeff were long gone but I was able to catch back up to Carter over the last mile until in the final 1/4 when he realized I was right behind him and put in a little extra kick that I couldn't match.
distance: 5.08 miles
Following the run we broke out the grills and had a feast fit for people who had run much father than any of us that day. I brought the fixings for peanut butter and bacon sandwiches which were a pretty big hit, but nothing could compare to Ryan's contribution to the post-race feed. Maple glazed donuts topped with crispy bacon. Brilliant.