Monday, February 6, 2017

Old Mountain Field 2017

South Kingstown, RI
Saturday, February 4, 2017

I love Saturday races.  And technical trail runs.  January was the first non-racing month for me since 2014.  After a hiatus of nearly two months since my last race, it was time to jump back into the water. Only this time, unlike the last running of OMF, there would be no water, but plenty of frozen ruts and crunchy ground.

Flash back to the start of the 2014 OMF 5K!
Longing for another snow race like this.

Warm up:  Arrived 55 minutes early, to give myself plenty of time for registration and a good warm-up.  Quickly ran into Muddy at registration table.  I thought we had plenty of time to warm up, but Muddy was doing some freak stuff with his gloves, as the fingers were inside out and it took up 30 minutes of our time.  It was more like two minutes, but since it seemed to bother him, I'll mention it here.  Anyway, we had a really good warm-up, as we ran the entire course, and stopped just before the finish as we were shocked to see a Chris Garvin look alike.  Wait a minute, it is Chris Garvin!  Back from sunny CA for a day (or so it seemed).

Lining up:  The race started about 10 minutes late.  RD Mike Galoob must have said something, as the crowd started moving towards the starting line.  Much of the starting line was occupied by youngsters, and my concern was that they would be faster than me out of the gate and I would end up stuck behind a number of them on the trails where it would be hard to pass.  I lined up near Jonny, Jonathan Short, and Leslie O'Dell on the far left part of the starting line, realizing the youngsters had the better tangent to reach the first right-hand turn on the course.
Lining up at the start.  I'll have to get out quick to get
past a number of youngsters on the right.
(Pic by Jana)

The start:  The race started and I did my best to sprint out to get a good position.  Nearly went down in the chaos of the mass start but pushed hard and by the time we crossed the road and hit the trail, I reckoned I was in about 15th place.  I saw Jonny ahead of me, but he was at least 4 positions ahead.  Near the top of the ascent up the "mountain", a very tall runner with lots of gray hair went past me.  I figured that his gray hair meant he was old and likely in my age group, so I've got to go with him.  I was now at the back of a train of four runners, and running fairly easily, but there was nowhere to pass on the technical stuff for a while, especially crossing that rock-hewn stream bed. 

The swamp:  When the trail opened up into a frozen swamp, Tall Guy went around one runner and I followed suit.  He went past the next runner and I joined him jumping frozen puddles to get past.  Now he picked up speed as we caught up to a Rhode Runner and he went around him.  I attempted to get around Rhode Runner as well, but he wasn't making it easy for me.  I felt like I was running my fastest through scrub brush and then had to jump a downed tree off the trail, but finally got around him.  Well, he must not have been happy with us as he came roaring back on the next straightaway and passed both me and Tall Guy in a single bound, as if to say, "You shall not pass".  Tall Guy and I settled in behind Rhode Runner, as we started climbing out of the swamp back to Old Mountain.  I felt the pace slowing again, but this was no place for me to try to pass going uphill on narrow single-track.
I'm hoping that Rhode Runner is not as angry at us as Gandalf.

'Round the PondAfter the last climb, we turn down a steep narrow single-track that empties into a wider trail just before bridge across the river.  It was at this point that Tall Guy re-passed Rhode Runner.  I followed suit, and we were not immediately challenged this time.  Somewhere on the trail around the pond, we were able to pass one more person.
Re-entering the trails after the pond.

Finalizing Position:  After rounding the pond, we re-entered the trails again, with me right behind Tall Guy still.  I knew I could push it harder, but also wanted to be strategic about where I tried to pass Tall Guy.  Two more climbs to go.  Right behind Tall Guy for the climb including the stone stairs, and after reaching the apex and starting to descend, it was time for me to make a move.  Went by him just before some twisty rhododendrons, and then pushed hard downhill to lessen the chance of being overtaken.  Up the final twisty climb now, I actually caught up to the next runner.  At the top of that final climb, Chris was there egging me on to pass him on the switchback headed downhill.  Thanks Chris!  I did, sprinted, and never looked back.
Starting my final descent,
just before passing final runner.
(Pic by Chris)
Gazellin' downhill on the edge of control,
after passing final runner.  Just before finish.

Final results:  21:25.  9th overall of 141.  1st in age group.  Full results here.

Kiss and make up:  Post-race, I couldn't stay long as I was headed up to Matthew's meet in Providence, but I did make a point to thank Tall Guy for pulling me along through the race.  And checking results later in the day, it turns out that not only is this guy NOT in his 50s, he's not even in his 40's!  What a terrible judge of age on my part.  In retrospect, I should have just run my own race.  Hindsight is 20/20.  The Rhode Runner that we passed, were overtaken, and repassed came up to me excitedly and said, "Nice effin race, man!", so all is good.

Bonehead finale:  As I'm leaving the race, I see Muddy fretting about and calling himself a bonehead about something, so I inquire.  It turns out he can't find his green NRA hat that he took off after his warm-up.  Wait a minute.  I check my bag as I know I brought the same green NRA hat, and sure enough, I now have two green NRA hats in my bag.  Yeah, I'm the bonehead.  Sorry, Muddy!

Great race!  Great fun!


  1. Nice work Jeff. Sounds like you ran a smart race.

  2. Well done, Jeff! I can't (well, actually, I can) believe how much space you put on the guy you passed on the downhill before the finish. You were several strides behind him when you went by my spot. It was fun to watch in person.

  3. HA! I was waiting to find out the gray haired guy was younger than you! Nice race! Glad you rescued Muddy's hat, surely he would have lost it due to his own devices?