Monday, November 10, 2014

Westerly Land Trust 5K

Sunday, November 9, 2014
Avondale Farm Preserve, Westerly

This was the 3rd running of this annual fundraiser for one of my favorite non-profits.  The Westerly Land Trust has 29 properties with almost 1,500 acres.  At least 7 of these have trail systems open to the public for running and hiking.

Went for a warm-up with Mike B and three local high-schoolers from the neighborhood, including Matthew and Jonny Eckel just coming off awesome cross country seasons.
Start of the race:  looks like I'll be battling 3 teenagers today

Mile 1:  About 70 of us toed the line.  At the gun, a kid about 10 sprinted out ahead of all of us as Matthew mumbled something about there seeming to be one of these at every race.  Sure enough, 1/4 mile in his dazzle was done as he got passed left and right.  When the dust settled, Cooper (former WHS track runner who graduated last year) was in the lead, followed by Jonny and then Matthew and I.  Matthew and I ran pretty much together for the first mile.  He would later tell me he felt I was pushing the pace, so if I somehow helped him in this part, I'm happy.  Mile 1 split 5:33.
Positioning at end of 1K:  Cooper, Jonny, Matthew & me

Breathing hard (as Matthew would later tell me)
to try to keep up with Matthew

Mike B out sporting his club colors

Mile 2:  The course doubles back on itself here on Champlin, so you can see all the runners behind you.  Gave Mike B and others props.  I hung with Matthew until the end of the 2nd mile and then the race composition started to change.  Jonny passed Cooper for the lead, and Matthew started to pick up the pace.  I gave Matthew some encouragement to go after the two lead runners, and off he went.  Mile 2 split 5:41.

Mile 3:  Matthew passed Cooper early in the final mile to move into 2nd place, and about 1/4 mile later I passed Cooper as well.  I wanted to say "good job" to him, but it would have come out all gibberish.  Usually the stretch along the river is long and boring, but I was enjoying watching the race unfold ahead of me as Matthew was narrowing the gap on Jonny, who still had a decent lead up to and back into the preserve.  There was a little breeze headwind back into the preserve, but we've certainly had worse.  Right about the 3-mile mark Matthew had caught up to Jonny.  Mile 3 split 5:49.

The finish:  I had a birdseye view of a race that came down to the wire.  Jonny surged ahead to get a few feet ahead of Matthew and I wasn't sure if that was the final move, but when Matthew caught up again I knew then he'd probably win as you typically can't keep throwing surges.  Jonny ran a great race to finish in 17:33, but Matthew ran past him in the final 100 yards to finish with a PR and overall win in 17:30.
A battle amongst friendly rivals in the final 100 yards

1st place, 2nd, ...

... and 3rd.

I came through the line behind them in 17:46 (still awaiting final online results).  I was really happy with my time to break 18-minutes again as a 50-year old, but even happier and prouder of Matthew.  (Muddy, Seth, Jonny H, and others - be warned - your days of beating Matthew in a road 5K are numbered as well!)  A number of other WTAC'ers had great races, including Mike B, Paul G, and Elise for the female 1st place.  Always a fun time.

Final results:  17:48, average 5:45 pace.  3rd of 68 finishers.  1st in age group.  Full results here.
Today's WTAC contingent

To the victor go the spoils:
I've watched his 5k time come down from low 30s
as a 7-year old  to 17:30 today as a 15-year old.
It's been a great ride with faster times to come!

Next up ... Li'l Rhody in only 7 days!   


  1. I think my days of beating Matthew are already over. I'll probably just stick to 50ks from now on to save face!

  2. I feel proud by association after reading this. It's so exciting to see Matthew really blossom as a runner over the past couple of years; the future looks bright! And not too shabby yourself, dad. The Walkers are a force to be reckoned with!

  3. Seriously fast times put down by you all, wow...wish I'd been there to see it! Great job, Jeff - and thanks for all the behind the scenes work you do for the WLT, I know we all appreciate having a clear trail to run on!!!

  4. Congratulations to Matthew!! Great write up, the pride oozes from every word. Did he finally smile?

  5. Happy for you guys but just another reminder that I'm fading. We should start a betting club-- over/unders, selecting calendar dates, etc. as to which races MW beats each member of WTAC. Is Matthew doing SC4S races or does he have indoor?