On Saturday, Sept. 14th, Frosty and I ran in the inaugural Mahoosuc Ridge to the River Challenge. This trail race featured a 10K and a half marathon. There was also a category for hikers, but it was only available in the 10k distance. The hiker class was untimed. Hiking participants still earned a finishers medal.
Frosty ran in the half marathon. The race website described the half course like this, “A mix of logging roads, trails, ski slopes, steep & rocky hills, and several mountain peaks with a paved road start. Prepare thyself.” Another description on the race website said, “a doozy of an adventure for the half marathon.”
Those descriptions along with the fact that the half marathon had four cut-off points (spots on the course that runners have to reach by a certain time or they are not allowed to continue in the race) made me doubt myself. I let my worries get the best of me and signed up for the 10K.
Runners could pick up their bibs on Friday, at the Meeting House, a local restaurant and bar, or on race day at Sunday River. There was a full size Snickers bar in the race packet! Yeah! Parking for the race was at Sunday River. Shuttles took racers to the starting area.
Porta potties were available at the start. There was also a bag drop. It was a cold morning. Frosty and I both wore our raincoats to stay warm before the race. A light rain started as we waited for the race to begin. Racers, spectators, and volunteers took shelter under trees and the two portable canopies.
As race time approached, we stuffed our raincoats in the drop bag to be transported to the finish line. The rain stopped right before race time.
Since I am slow, I always line up in the back of the pack. This also means that many times I can’t hear the pre-race announcements. That was the case for this race. I just hoped there wasn’t any crucial information. In a road race, I can usually see some runners in front of me. In trail races, I have often been so far back that I can’t see the racers ahead of me. Suddenly, the pack started to move, I didn’t even hear the race start!
Both distances started out on a paved road, Then moved onto a gravel road. Eventually, the course moved onto trail. The 10K and half courses were together for quite a bit of the 10K course. There were two well stocked aid stations shared by both courses.
At the second aid station, the 10K headed down the trail. While the half people headed up, up, up, to get onto the ridge for the Sunday River Ski Resort.
The half course was intense with 3,200 feet of elevation. According to my Garmin, the 10K course had 1,228 feet of elevation.
Throughout my run the sky was gray and the threat of rain was ever present. But I didn’t get rained on again. Frosty, however, up on the ridge in the clouds, had it a little wetter.
After splitting from the half course, the 10K headed down a hiking trail then onto some wide ski trails. There were a few more spots of uphill, but the 10K course finished on a down hill section.
I was one of the slowest runners in the 10K, but I tried to finish strong. I pushed myself with every bit of energy that I had left. I ran past one woman. Then tried to pass a man. I’m sure you sharp readers picked up on the key word “tried.”
He was meandering his way toward the finish. I was gaining on him. Until, he heard me coming. Then he started running. He had the edge, but still I pushed myself to try to take him.
My eyes had been watering off and on throughout the race. Of course they had started watering again, probably due to my, ahem, intense speed. I had my sunglasses on, so I couldn’t wipe my eyes while moving. and I didn’t want to stop to wipe my eyes.
I kept running blindly toward where I knew the finish was. Well, that didn’t work out very well for me. I stepped into a tiny dip in the trail, my ankle rolled, and I crumpled to the ground. I was about 10 feet from the finish. I just wanted to sit there, but I got up and walk across the finish.
Of course, everyone watching the finish line saw me fall. I guess I added some excitement to the race. One spectator jokingly yelled, ” He pushed her!” referring to the man that I had been racing.
At the finish, there was water, prize-winning chocolate chip cookies, more full-size Snickers bars, orange slices, bagels, and snack size bags of Cheetos, Lays, etc. I was very thirsty and chugged a few glasses of water and enjoyed some snacks.
Overall and age group winners were awarded their choice of products from a local bakery. All participants earned a finishers woodal (the hip term for a wooden medal). There were also some special woodals for age group winners.
I waited for Frosty. I didn’t have to wait as long as I thought. This gave me hope that I could run this race next year. I maybe the DLF (dead last finisher), but I think I could make the cut-offs.
The downhill was hard on Frosty’s knees. Many runners that he had passed on the uphill or on the ridge, flew past him on the downhill. Frosty wasn’t the DLF
Runners were given a ticket for a free beer. For slow runners, the choice was limited. Bud Light or Shipyard Brewing Company’s Pumpkinhead beer. We went for the Pumpkinhead. On race day, the Maine Brew Fest was also being held at Sunday River. You could buy more beer. There were also food trucks, fire pits, music, a bounce house, and a bungee bouncing carnival style ride.