Friday, June 23, 2017

Back Road Ramble 2017

Charlestown, RI
Sunday, June 11, 2017
5.8 mile "long course"

This was the 6th edition of the Back Road Ramble.  Since we started this, we have seen the race course change four different times and have had four different race directors.  I've been told I've been the one constant on this race throughout the years.

In the inaugural version, the course was poorly marked, Jonny and I spent time trying to figure out where the course went next, and the overall course was longer than the advertised 5K.  To be blunt, the local YMCA staff, while great in their core business, just didn't have experience in putting on a trail race.  After providing some constructive but balanced criticism to YMCA management, I was asked if I would serve on the race committee the following year.  Absolutely.  This helped me realize two of my own mantras:  1) be part of the solution, not the problem (it's easy to whine about something; harder to roll up your sleeves and help fix it), and 2) people should give back to their community in some way (these benefit races don't put themselves on and many, if not most, runners vastly underestimate the efforts that go into putting on a race).

Fast forward to 2017.  Yet again, we need to find a new race course.  This time it's because Burlingame State Park has stopped allowing any outside events that go into the campground, for the duration of the camping season (April to October?).  After considering a few options, the only one that didn't involve a lot of asphalt on out and back roads (this is a trail race, after all!) hinged on the Y being able to provide one-way transportation to the start to enable a point-to-point race.  This all came together, as the principal of Chariho High School is on our race committee this year and arranged for free school bus transportation.  Awesome!

Race day.  Arrived at 6am to mark the course with Sergio, whose father the race name has been christened with as Ray Cherenzia Back Road Ramble.  I didn't know Ray personally, but have heard only good things about him, and I feel a connection as Ray was active in the WTAC and like my own father, passed away from cancer at age 58.

Easy two miles.  Started off in the front with Galoob, Jonny, Seth, and Jonathan Short.  On the dirt road down to the pond in the first mile, I announced that this was the only time I would be ahead of Jonny!  Returning from the pond onto single-track to start the second mile, we were in a group of five in single-file:  Jonny, Galoob, me, high-school freshman Aaron, and someone I didn't recognize.

Technical three miles:  At the water-stop, we left the easy trails and started on twisty, winding, single-track fun of Sammy C's.  Lots of short up and downs, lots of rock ledges.  Galoob and Jonny quickly took off, and the two on my heels dropped back leaving me running as an island.  No worries; I had become very familiar with the course by now as I had selected it, measured it, marked it, etc., and trail running definitely goes by quicker when you know the trail really well.  Sure, it was tiring, but I ran at a relatively steady pace and never got exhausted.
One of the more gnarly sections
of Sammy C's.

Still a bit of water and mud left.

Final mile:  The dreaded and unavoidable asphalt.  Like Rhody, the last mile is on Kings Factory and Prosser Trail.  I hadn't seen Jonny in a few miles, but as I popped out onto the road, I saw him again, and followed him at a distance to the finish.
Downhill finish.

Final result:  39:49, 3rd place out of 53.  1st in age group.  Results here.
Kids' runs are always fun.  You can just see their exuberance.

Beautiful waterfront with water trampoline a ways in the background.

Grabbed water, and then cooled off with a quick dip in Watchaug Pond with WTAC teammates Jonny (2nd) and Jonathan Short (4th).  Had some lunch, got awards, swam out to and bounced around on the water trampoline a bit, before it was time to hit the trails again to pick up flags and signs and finish out 16 miles on the day.  Busy, but fun day!  Got a lot of comments that the course was really challenging this year.  For me, it was the most fun BRR course yet!

1 comment:

  1. Exactly, part of the solution not part of the problem and give back. On those two points you come in first!