Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Goat Hill 50k - Race Report

My first planned race this spring was the TARC Spring Classic 50k in Weston, a race I did last year and spectacularly blew up at. (Race Report here) I was hoping this year to run it again, but I am coaching T-ball for my son’s team and there was a schedule conflict. That’s when I took a look at the Goat Hill 50k in Uxbridge, MA, and the date lined up being on the Sunday of that same weekend. It is a first-year race organized by the MRA group out of the Blackstone Valley area, they have several fun races they organize and I figured it would be a good course for a training race.

A few friends were running the 50k as well as some of the other distances that day and I figured it would be a fun atmosphere along some good rolling trails. I did a couple course previews with friends prior to the race, including a group run with about 20 people, so I had a good idea of what the course entailed. The majority of the 8 mile loop (50k runners repeat 4 times) consisted of singletrack mountain bike trails as well as some doubletrack and one steep climb at approximately mile 1.

The morning of the race I learned that Patrick Caron would be running the 50k, and he has put up some fast times at the Fells Winter 40, Hale and Back 6 hour, among other races. I had a hard time planning what would be a good target time for each loop and I was thinking it would probably be around an hour or an hour and ten minutes per loop, at least to start with.

We started the cool and dry day with the National Anthem, as they do at all MRA races, and got ready to settle into a pace that would work for the duration of the run. I started out the race with Patrick leading and Anthony DelleDonne setting the pace not far behind. I chatted and ran with Anthony for the first lap and we ended up coming into the end of the first lap right behind Patrick at 1:04 (8:27/mi). Anthony had to stop for a minute, so I tried to hang with Patrick as long as I could for the second lap. We talked about races coming up and adventures we had in the mountains, and the second lap went pretty well for me at a little slower (more comfortable) pace in 1:10 (9:11/mi). It was a well laid out course and we had a middle lap aid station to look forward to at about mile 3.5 where Kristen and Luke Legendre were cheering on the runners as we went by.  The start/finish aid station was spot on for the water filling, I didn't end up taking any food from there until after the race. My running partner and friend Jason Gray and all the other awesome volunteers at the aid station and throughout the course did an awesome job keeping the runners moving.

Finishing the second loop, mile 16. Photo courtesy Ben Kimball at Northeast Race Photo

Just after the start of the third lap, Patrick was still running up the steep hill and I decided to walk so that would be the last time I would see him until the finish. At this point I just tried to run a consistent pace and stay on top of fueling and hydration. The third loop went by pretty quickly at a 9:57/mi pace in 1:15 and I just tried to hold onto my second place standing for the last lap while really slowing down. It got pretty ugly on this lap and I walked some of the flat sections, somehow I was able to finish in second place with a last lap time of 1:27 (11:30/mi pace) and overall race time of 4:59:12, pretty far off my PR on a different 50k course from 2013. A bunch of people came in only ten minutes behind including Anthony who I ran the first lap with, and Patrick ended up with the win in 4:34. It was great to finish and see my family there cheering me on. I love to go to the local races that they can easily attend to include them in my hobby. I owe a lot to my wife for letting me take off for long runs and mountain adventures, and it is great to be able to include her and the kids in what I love to do for fun, trail running.

My kids hydrating while they wait for me to finish

For a first year race, the organizers had everything marked well, aid stations stocked with good stuff, and the scene and food afterwards was great. I would suggest to anyone looking for relatively technical course with a decent amount of climbing in Central Massachusetts, to check this race out next year. Great trails!

Shoes: Scott Kinabalu Supertrac
Socks: Darntough VT Herringbone Micro Crew Ultralight
Shorts: The North Face Better Than Naked 5"
Shirt: Wapack and Back 2012 shirt, with Patagonia All-Weather Long Sleeve
Hydration: Ultimate Direction handheld with Honey Stinger gels stuffed in (maybe 6?)

Twisty singletrack loop

Overall pace was okay, but you can see how it really went down in the last 6-8 miles