Thursday, March 22, 2012

Winter Wild Championships and New Bedford Half Marathon

This past weekend was an unusual double for me. While I typically do double races, this was the first time that I wouldn't be running in both of them. Saturday was my race directing debut, along with running partner, Rich Lavers, up at Bretton Woods in the 1st Annual Winter Wild Championships. Chad Denning of New London Recreation had been putting on the Winter Wild Series for several years and I had participated as a racer. But when the opportunity arose for me to direct one of them, especially at Bretton Woods where I used to ski race, I jumped at the chance. 
Winter Wild is like a mountain race but unique in that you can use skis, snowshoes, running sneakers or even carry a snowboard to reach the summit, but you have to then get down the same way.

Bretton Woods Ski Area
Months before the race, using my memory of Bretton Woods as a kid, I mapped out what I thought would be a challenging but fair race course for all the participants. Also, as it was the championships, we instituted a "King of the Mountain" challenge for the first to the summit.

As first time race directors there were a few things we hadn't taken into consideration:

1) Day Light Savings. Due to the time change the six am start time meant that it would be pitch black in the dark. This made my marking the course all that much more challenging morning of.
2) Snowless Winter. Bretton Woods probably had some of the best snow in the state this winter but there is only so much that can be done with the unseasonably warm weather.
3) How long it takes to mark the course. I got to the course at 4:45 to mark it thinking that an hour and fifteen to mark a four mile course with a snowmobile would be plenty of time. What I didn't factor in was how many sidetrails we would have to block off, as well as having to backtrack at one point because the course went up a pitch too steep for the snowmobile. We also, at one point, slid down sideways when it lost traction-Yikes!
Luckily, we had the ability to push back the start until 6:30 which allowed some of the fog to burn off and have the sun come up a little so it wasn't pitch black. As you can see it was pretty close though.
The Winter Wild Championships
However despite these things we had a great turnout of over one hundred people! Not bad for a 6am race that most people had to travel at least 2 hours to.
As expected Kevin Tilton took home the King of the Mountain prize which was a free pair of Brooks sneakers. He ran an amazing race, finishing third overall after two very fast nordic skate skiers.
A big part of the Winter Wild Series is the amazing raffle that Chad puts on. I wanted the championships to be even bigger so I started last year to compile prizes that I could give away. Generous donations from Brooks Shoes, Merrell, Atlas Snowshoes, and Sony as well as aR favorite's like RedHook, made for a great raffle.
Rich and I found lots of things that we will do next year but one thing we won't change is the venue. Bretton Woods was so accommodating and the course(when we can run it in its entirety) will be the best in the series. Look forward to planning ahead.

The aR members that came up to Winter Wild

As soon as everything was wrapped up at Bretton Woods, I quickly drove down to Concord, picked up Amber and headed down to New Bedford for the second race, a half marathon, in the New England Grand Prix. We had to make a quick stop in Newton to drop off Amber's tri bike at Fast Splits. Fast Splits is a local rep for TriBike Transport, an awesome company that, as the name so apparently implies, transports tribikes to races. Amber's is now headed to Oceanside, CA for California 70.3 next weekend.
New Bedford has been a tradition in the Ferreira family now for four years. Each year my dad(and most years, my mom) come down with us, stay over and they cheer us on during the race. But the real reason is the food! After finding Antonio's last year, we decided we didn't want to deviate from excellence so we went back. It did not disappoint. Amber who hadn't been able to join us for dinner last year went to town, making sure she had some of my meal as well as her own:)

After dinner we drove over to Fort Taber which is a pretty cool fort built to protect the New Bedford Harbor yet never used.

As was the case last year, I knew that the race would start out fast, so I took it conservatively aiming to run the same pace as I had last year. I went through the five mile mark about 30 seconds slower than last year and more than a minute slower at the ten mile mark. I ended up running a slightly faster last 5k than last year but still ended almost exactly a minute behind last year's PR. I was hoping to have run a little faster but considering the hotter temps, the windier course and no long runs of note, I will take it.

Mile 12

I met my parents and Amber, cheered Amber's dad, Greg, on as he finished grabbed a coffee and then hung out until Mrs. Cullen finished. Unfortunately for us, she had been sand-bagging and finished over ten minutes faster than predicted so we missed her on the finish line. We won't be fooled again. All in all it was a fun weekend with friends and family and a pretty good start to the racing season as well as my race directing career:)

UP NEXT:  California 70.3!

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