the great train race, a point to point run from new canaan to wilton, is one of my favorite connecticut races - and does include a real commuter train as a participant!
this description is from the race flyer: "It takes three separate trains and 59 minutes of riding time to get from New Canaan to the Wilton station. Want to challenge the Iron Horse?"
aside from racing the train to the wilton station, the course itself is a hilly challenge - with a noteworthy climb in the first mile (reminiscent of the start of the wurtsboro mountain 30k) and another one lurking in miles 4 for good measure.
here is the route, and elevation profile:
the 2009 edition kicked off with a different pre-race twist. jim surprised me with a bottle of shipyard pumpkin ale to try out (after the race, of course). i can't remember the last time i looked forward to post-race rehydration with such anticipation :D as it turned out, i had the pumpkin ale later that afternoon, after the police pumpkin chase 5k.
but i've gotten ahead of myself. the great weather contributed to a large turnout. among the participants could be found the usual suspects: dawn, don, emmy, kate, rob, roy... (how alphabetical) just to name a few. all of whom, except don (who jogged the back to the start after he finished the race), would be back in new canaan that afternoon for the 5k!
the race has a deceptive downhill start that has the potential to lull runners (especially me) into a much faster pace than warranted. the bulk of first mile, as it quickly becomes apparent, is all uphill. i missed the split for mile one, but ran the first two miles in 14:17, a 7:08 pace. i wanted to finish in under 50 minutes, basically a 7:20 pace, so that was a bit too fast.
mile 3, in 6:40, was mostly gravity assisted since it was all downhill. i gave a bunch of that time back when i briefly walked to the top of mile 4 - which took 7:46 to complete. my split, 28:43, still had me on a 7:11 pace. i missed the marker for mile 5, but took 15:03 to reach mile 6 in 43:46 - which slowed the pace down to 7:17. that stretch also included a bit quick walk on the sharp little hill after the reservoir.
rob shouted up to me to quit the walking, which motivated me to run again. rob passed me in the last half mile, as we approached the overpass that led to the finish. rob missed breaking 49 minutes by one second! i wasn't too far behind, in 49:08. i was very pleased with this result -but mildly annoyed at myself for slacking off in the last mile (had i stayed focused, may have had a sub-49 finish).
jim's excellent pre-race present :D
here are the 2009 race photos.
here is my 2008 race report (and photos).