the 27th edition of the nipmuck trail marathon was dave raczkowski's farewell as race director, after he served in that role since the first race 27 years ago. for the past two years, dave had capped the race field because of logistical issues. looking forward, he's turned over the race directing duties to clinton morse and the shenipsit striders.
getting back to the 2010 edition, i was on the road at 5:30 and met emmy at 5:55 for the drive to ashford. this time around we avoided the car pooling snafu that had emmy, rob, and me on the road 20 minutes late and barely reaching the start on time. with no traffic (and rob didn't run nipmuck this year) , we arrived with plenty of time to spare.
as i checked in and got my bib, dave announced the forecast for heavy rain ("it's going to be wet out there"). and to underscore the concern, he had a box of disposable rain ponchos set out at the aid table! it was very humid (and hot), so i carried a 21 ounce handheld water bottle. it was initially filled with a gatorade/water mix (50/50).
i had a 5 hour goal in mind, which i broke into 1 hour out and backs for the first leg and 1:30 out and backs for the second. i knew it would be a rough day when it took me 1:06 to reach the first turnaround! during that stretch it seemed like we were running under water. i was drenched in sweat before the end of the first mile - and was constantly soaked thereafter.
that first leg was almost 10 minutes slower than i ran it in 2009 and i polished off the entire water bottle by the time i reached the turnaround. in what became the pattern for the race, i drank at every aid station and topped off the water bottle. all together, i drained that bottle (separate and apart from the water and soda i drank at the aid stations) 4 times!
the return leg took 1:05 and, again, was well off my 2009 performance. my perceived effort for that result was just too hard in the conditions. luckily, the humidity seemed to slacken a bit on the outbound leg of the second half. it took me 1:31 to reach the turnaround. while i was constantly drinking fluids, i only ate watermelon and strawberries at the aid stations.
on the inbound leg i looked forward to some beer at the final aid station! the volunteers who had cut the fresh strawberries told us there would be some cold pale ale waiting for us on when we got back! that was some great inspiration. i ran the a good chunk of the return leg w/al "cat" (a gac member who runs the first aid station at the stone cat trail races). he and i joked about getting back to that aid station in time for the beer.
we made i back in fine shape - and we had a choice of beer: long trail pale ale or oatmeal stout. we opted for the pale ale - but encountered a small problem: no bottle opener. al tried everything including a volunteers keys, turning it over to another volunteer to try (with a seat belt buckle!) and, finally, with the other bottle of beer. we spent a remarkable amount of time and effort getting it open. but it was worth it!!
the final 2.5 miles went by quickly. the final mile is tough, the first 3/4's is a climb and the last 1/4 a downhill finish. al and i ran in together and finished in 5:19 (my split for that stretch was 1:36 (and included the beer stop). it was a solid 30 minutes slower than my 2009 finish. but under the circumstances, i was more than pleased! it was my 4th nipmuck finish.
after i changed out of my wet clothes, my appetite returned with a vengeance and i had 2 slices of pizza and 3 hot dogs washed down with plenty of seltzer (and even a sip of al's ipswich ale). the threatened rains never arrived during the race - but, within minutes of getting back on the highway, two separate rain squalls reduced our forward motion to a crawl with the hazard lights on!
here are my race photos.
here are my 2009 race photos.