April 13, 2009

Merry Merrimack River Trail Run

Saturday was the 18th Merrimack River Trail Race. Despite living Andover for over 20 years, where the race is held, this was my first MRTR. In past years I enjoyed watching Paul Y and other muddy & bloody runners cross the finish. I've trained along the MRT—mostly via Deer Jump—but I decided that this year I would run the race proper. April 11, turn to: run + rivah x mud/hills = fun.

The week before, I explored what I thought might be the official course. My last outing along the Merrimack was during a rainy & cold March Monday where iced terrain turned to snowy mush underfoot. It was also well over a year since I last ran the entire length of the trail so I was fuzzy at various junctions and made some turns that the race did not.
No p
I love discovering new trails and this run provided the opportunity; it felt like Frost’s Road Not Taken in motion.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both…”

Race Day. I was delighted to see some folks I’d been training with recently in addition to the friendly familiar trail & mountain race running regulars! Still, I missed not seeing some runners!
The race itself rumble-tumbled along and served its share of slippery wooded water crossings and roller-coaster hills. I was delighted the ravine had been thatched prior to the race!
At the start, I seeded myself near the back and warmed up with a sustainable tempo pace. In the first miles I plugged along with Vivian and about ½ mile with “Iron-Finn” Mika before he rocketed off towards woodsy oblivion. Recently off a Nordic ski marathon, he ran MRT to train for an upcoming orienteering event. Vivian also just logged two consecutive days of time trials on the bike. Moi? I prepared ahead with relaxing rest days.

Rob M and kZ were up ahead with Bill H. I met Bill in March during the MS Fells run when we sprinted into the finish! The MRTR was a tempo f/run for me, so Bill and I will need to play plan our squirrel-shirted re-match! Seriously, kZ tapped into his magical Pro Bar energy; he was speee-dy! His fancy foot-prancing moves along the Blue Hills toned him for this "Dancing with the Rocks" debut!

Well, as several of my trail training gumbas raced ahead, I ran happily with Brain G. We worked together by bantering, pushing and pulling each other along. We missed running with Diane L—who, like Brian, is awesome at the ascents! By mile nine Brian's tank was full throttle and he reared ahead, while I animated my best tick impression trying to stick with him to the finish! We passed a few folks in the remaining ½ mile. I got a rise out of Rob's great attitude—he was as cheerful as a bee bopping along.

Here are a few photos taken during the awards and raffle ceremony with the lively Steve Peterson, RD.

Results a la Grand Tree:
click on me.

Many links to more photos via cool running: here.

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