Sunday, May 1, 2011

Big A 50k Race Report

The Big A 50k is held at Mt. Agamenticus near York, Maine. Its hard to believe that a small mountain (680 feet) can punish you so bad.

I had heard about the first year event through Bob Najar, whom I met at the New Balance ultra focus group back in early December. About 40 ultra runners from across new england hit the trail at 7:30 am sharp heading onto a paved, then gravel road for .7 mile. The trail then took a sharp right and headed up to the summit of the Big A.

Switchbacks were carefully carved into the side of the mountain allowing me to push to the summit first. I had been in the lead since the start and was surprised to see myself still in the lead at the top. Next the downhill of downhills. I would say I gained most of my ground on the downhill sections. I teetered on a fine line on the downhills, it was either the "out-of-control I'm going to crash and break my ankle", or me telling myself that I am a solid downhill runner and to just go with it. Whatever it was it worked.

The next section consisted of some downhills and rolling hills through some leave covered trails. I had heard many people got lost and this I suspect was the area. During the first loop (of four), I had gone off trail for no more than 10 feet when I saw a fluorescent ribbon off to my left. Relieved to be back on trail I continued.

More rolling hills and what seemed like more downhills were next. I kept thinking to myself, beside the initial climb, I've been going downhill quite a bit. Well I should of knocked on wood or something. The next part consisted of some cool single track (that angled upward), some woods climbs, and some rough uphill on some granite slab. Once at the top, another bombing downhill got me back on track. This downhill wasn't really technical at all and I'm sure I gained some minutes here over the four laps.

Once the downhill concluded, the trail turned to a atv track with some large puddles. I tip-toed the edges of  the first few but the last one proved to be impossible, so I just trudged through it, hitting mid-shin depth in some areas. At the end of this segment was a water stop which I used on the third and fourth loop only.

At the water stop, I knew it was 1.5 to the start/finish and that I had been going downhill quite a bit. Alas, another climb was just ahead. This one was pretty brutal and I walked it completely the last two laps. Once at the junction, at left was taken on some technical single track back to the start.

Before the start and after each lap, New Balance had a machine to scan our feet. They were trying to figure out what ultramarathoners feet do during a race. So, at the conclusion of the first lap I was surprised to find that it only took a minute or so to do the scanning. I hope the NB guys get some interesting results and pass them along to us ultra folks.

The next three laps were me solo in the woods. I only saw a few people and wondered if many had dropped due to getting lost. My splits got only slightly slower throughout the four laps. My average was 1:17 for the four (1:12, 1:15, 1:20, 1:23). I asked the NB guys how the second place runner was doing and they said good and that he was about 15 minutes back at the conclusion of my 3rd loop. This had me in a comfortable position but still worried about what lay ahead. I spoke to the second place runner, James Demer (whom I picked second) and he was told he was six minutes back after the second loop, then it ballooned to 30 minutes after the 3rd loop. He ended up finishing 19 minutes back at 5:29.

Looking back, when Bob said "go" and I hit the summit the first time, I thought to myself, you are leading the race, you are the prey and the pack is hunting you down. In a sense, this made me run scared and faster than I intended. On the initial climb up Mt. A, I thought to myself, "you have a chance to win this, might as well go for it". So I did, go for it, and won it.

Next weekend at Wapack will be interesting to say the least. I figure if I'm not recovered, I may just volunteer, or if I feel good by Friday, I'm gonna give it hell and see what happens.

All in all a great race set-up by Bob Najar and Rich Collins. The volunteers were great as were the NB people. My wife, daughter and I stayed over Friday night in York, traveled to the outlets in Kittery post race and got in a great walk on the Marginal Way in Ogunquit on Sunday morning. A great weekend all around.


1 Frank Alix M CAA 1:33
2 Emma Barclay F Trail Monsters 1:30 3:08 4:55 6:45
3 Vicki Blais F 3:03 OFF COURSE
4 Jeremy Bonnett M Trail Monsters 1:20 2:38 4:01 5:36 3rd
5 Tyler Brinkmann M Trail Monsters 1:18 3:16
6 Matt Cirinna M WCRC 2:19 4:08
7 Kevin Claire M GAC 1:31 3:21 5:30 7:58
8 Rich Collins M WCRC 1:32 3:14 5:05 6:59
9 Justin Contois M 1:12 2:28 3:47 5:11 1st
10 Peter Copelas M GAC 2:28 5:00 7:22
11 Tom Cross M WCRC 1:31
12 Tara Deeble F GAC 1:32 3:14 5:05
13 James Demer M Trail Monsters 1:20 2:38 4:00 5:27 2nd
14 Bob Dunfey M WCRC 1:39 3:36
15 Paula Finestone F GAC 3:03 5:07 7:22 OWN COURSE
16 Jim (Gilly) Gilford M GAC 3:03 OFF COURSE
17 Martha Gilford F GAC 3:03 OFF COURSE
18 Melanie Haber F GAC 2:29
19 Ed Harvey M Aggieman 2:58
20 Joe Hayes M GAC 2:18 4:00 SHORT 2ND LOOP
21 Paul Henderson M 2:24 4:13 6:17
22 Four Hewes M Trail Monsters 1:37 3:28 5:42
23 Carter Humphreys M Trail Monsters 1:19 2:52
24 Curt Lintvedt M WCRC 2:34 5:04
25 Roger Martell Jr. M GAC 1:32 3:15
26 Cheryl Mulvey F GAC 3:03 5:07 7:22 OWN COURSE
27 Ed Mulvey M GAC 3:03 OFF COURSE
28 John O'Connor M GAC 1:30 3:08 4:55 6:45
29 Ian Parlin M Trail Monsters 1:30 3:08 4:55 6:45
30 Jason Patch M GAC 1:32 3:15 5:05 6:59
31 Chip Patterson M 1:26 3:01 5:07 6:54
32 Lisa Peters F WCRC 2:28 5:04
33 Timmy Poole M WCRC 2:34
34 Anne Marie Prewitt F 1:37 3:18 5:01 6:45
35 Meaghan Roache F CAA 1:37 3:14 5:01
36 Kevin Robinson M 2:22 4:37
37 Ron Ruhnke M 2:58
38 Mike Schafer M 1:20 3:20
39 Norm Sheppard M GAC 1:30 3:08 4:49 6:27
40 Keven Strum M 3:03 OFF COURSE
41 Roy Van Buren M GAC 3:03 OFF COURSE
42 Brent Vanni M Trail Monsters 1:20 2:46 4:18 5:53
43 Ben Watts M Stepping Razor RC 3:25
44 Steve Wells M Trail Monsters 1:20 2:46 4:18 5:50
45 Lori Wetzel F GAC 1:31 3:11 5:01 6:59
46 Zak Wieluns M Trail Monsters 3:25
47 Joe Wrobleski M 1:31 3:08 4:50 6:32
48 Charlie Zerbinopoulos M Rochester Runners 1:43 3:40 5:59 8:39
#Finishers: 19