This Sunday, September 7th, I ran in the 25th Annual FRED BROWN LAKE WINNIPESAUKEE RELAY race. My club, the Melrose Running Club, sent four teams and about 30 runners. We had a few last minute drop-outs and I know a few people had to run more than one leg of the race.
The race is produced by the North Medford Running Club and 82 teams participated this year. The fastest team from our club came in 16th over all and my team came in 51st.
I ran leg 5 and the course and elevation maps do not do it justice. The leg starts on an uphill as soon as we left the drive way of the ski area. For the first mile I felt un-prepared and that I had not eaten properly all day. I told my self that the first mile is warm up time and don’t get hung up on keeping up with or catching up with anyone. Just get your legs warmed up.
In the first two miles I passed two people. One lady in her thirties was pretty easy to pass but the guy in his 40′s took a little more time and work. I ran with a water bottle with a “sports” top that allowed me to drink and twist the top shut. As the people in front of me slowed for an official or team water stop I gained a little bit on them.
Eventually I caught up to a guy in his fifties and we ran a long for a mile or so. Then some guy in his thirties came up behind us like we were standing still. The three of us chatted and ran along for a half mile or so. When we got to the next down hill the younger guy took off and I took off right behind him. I figured if I could keep up with him for a few miles my time would improve.
The next down hill was very steep and I actually was afraid that I might fall. My legs were turning over faster than I wanted them to and faster than I thought I could maintain control. I kept telling my self to keep my form so that I could stay in control and not trip.
I was wearing the Newton’s which have the lug under the mid-foot. We were on un-even pavement on this hill and my sunglasses mess up my depth perception a bit. Between the speed, shoes, sunglasses and the pavement I had moments of fear I had never experienced as a runner. I’ve never run so fast that I felt out of control or that something bad might happen.
My running partner pulled me up the next hill and we stayed together on the flat and passed a few more runners. On the next incline he started to move ahead and I said, “see you at the exchange.” He gave me the encouraging words “Oh, you’ll be blowing past me down the road”. I’ve said the same thing my self a few times and I know he was just being polite. Runners are good people.
As he pulled further away, I ran up the hill on my toes and fore foot using the lugs on the Newtons to help propel me up the hill. I think they really do work but they put a lot of stress on my calves. This was a race and I was all in, so I pushed the hills as hard as I could and used my shoes for what they were made for.
Eventually I caught up with more runners, passed a few and ended up running the last mile or so with two other people. Just like last year. As we took the last turn I knew there was an up hill where I might catch these guys. I got close, within 10 yards any way. As we crested the hill and started the descent to the hand off area all three of us threw it all in. Once again, I felt like I could not run any faster without loosing control.
The guys got to the hand off area before I did. I didn’t pay much attention to them as I was looking for Linda who I was to hand the baton to. There were small crowds of people on both sides of the road and a few people in the hand off area. But I could not see Linda or our purple club shirt. I became a little worried that no one was there to take the baton. What was I supposed to do if no one was there? How fast had I run anyway.
Finally I saw Linda and she was trying to get her watch set up. She saw me and quickly came to me and took the baton. I was relieved. I walked down the road a hundred yards or so to catch my breath and then came back to the race table and added a cup of their cold water to my water bottle which still had some Gatorade in it.
I chatted with the guys I ran in with and we were all happy. We all felt like we ran well, the day was perfect for running, and we were DONE!
I spent the rest of the afternoon driving around and supporting all of the teams from my club. My buddy Bill ran leg 7 which was quite hilly. He looked like he was struggling
at first and by the second time we saw him his shirt was off. Bill made it to the last exchange point around 4:40. Cynthia ran in the last leg of the race.
After 5PM, any team that has not arrived at the exchange has their leg 8 runner go before the leg 7 person arrives. They do this so that they can get everyone off of the roads by 6PM. This time of the year it does start to get dark and there isn’t any shoulder to run on for this leg of the race. Of our four club teams, two made the 5PM cut off.
We made it back to FUNSPOT at Weirs Beach and saw most of the runners finish. We had a few beers and took a ton of pictures. Around 6:30, Bill and I headed to dinner on our way home.
After dinner we stopped to get gas just before we got onto Rt. 93 South. As we came up the ramp I saw something crossing the road. I thought it was a dog or a small deer at first as it looked light brown. As we got closer Bill and I realized simultaneously that it was a coyote! Bill said that made his day. That made the whole trip. I had never seen a coyote before and I was pretty floored also.
We had a long trip ahead of us, but that was just something special to see.