7 Sisters Trail Race

The 7 Sisters Trail Race was all suffering today.

1) Debbie and I both started the race (in the rain) with bad colds and ran below par.

2) I lost my GPS watch.

3) I was mad because there were runners without numbers.

4) I miraculously found my GPS.  Well, that isn’t a bad thing.

No excuses, but we were both hoping to run a little better today. It wasn’t to be. The whole family has been sick this week and for the most part, hasn’t been healthy at all recently. Normally, a nagging cold wouldn’t debilitate you, but 12 miles across the rocky Holyoke Range with 3700 feet of elevation gain and loss, requires a little more lung capacity than the average jog. This was Debbie’s 9th Sisters in a row and first time outside of the top three, not counting the year she ran it five months pregnant. Credit goes to the three women up front who battled the wet and slippery conditions. Going up the first climb, the race order was pretty much set, thought it looked like there might be a pitched battle for the top spot. In the end, Beth Krasemann reprised her Northern Nipmuck performance and took her first 7 Sisters title, beating Ruthie Ireland. Ruthie was second for the third year in a row. She is going to nail first one of these years. Each of the past three years, a different woman has edged her out (Kelli Lusk, Debbie, and now Beth). Abby Woods also had a strong race and finished third.

I don’t have much to update on the men’s race. My mid-pack viewpoint requires me to wait for the results before commenting. I saw many of the usual characters up front, including Ben Nephew, Leigh Schmitt, and Greg Hammett. The first runner to pass me going in the other direction had an Inov jersey and Ben and Leigh were in hot pursuit. Maybe the Inov runner hung on. Like I said, the results should be out by tomorrow.

Just to illustrate how much oxygen debt I was in, I didn’t realize I lost my Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS until the five mile mark. This isn’t a little watch; you know when it is on your wrist! Apparently, I lost it in the first mile, but I didn’t know that until after the race. Debbie caught me shortly after crossing the porch on the Summit House, and I looked at my wrist to see how much time had elapsed and I couldn’t tell. A sinking feeling entered my brain as I realized that not only was I running slow as molasses, but I couldn’t prove it!

Debbie gapped me on the descent to the turnaround at six miles, but I clawed my way back to her on the the uphill climb. I caught her on the return trip across the Summit House porch, then she blew me away. The last four miles were agony and involved a lot of walking.

I figured that with 200+ runners on an out and back course, someone must have seen my GPS. My hope was that if someone found it, they already had one and didn’t need another.  I was also hoping that Dick Stoeffler, who was hiking one way from the turnaround to the finish, would see it as he passed by at a more pedestrian pace. Before we left the venue I checked with race director, Scott Hunter. Amazingly, someone had just told him they found a GPS. It was Dick Stoeffler who had it, but he didn’t find it. His son, Brett, found it running on the way back down Bare Mountain. The measurements prove that I lost it just after the top of the first climb around .75 miles. Brett, I owe you one! The wrist band clasp had broken off. I was fortunate. Phew.

Runners have been running races without numbers for years. Commonly known as “renegades” these folks simply don’t register for the event, but do it anyway. This is a lame practice and in my mind, qualifies as theft. 7 Sisters was $15 if you pre-entered and $20 if you registered today. That is a bargain. For your dough, you got an organized event on a great course. You got race direction, race volunteers, aid stations, traffic police, water, bathrooms, medical personnel, post-race food, and a bunch of people to run with. If you are a renegade, you may rationalize your behavior by not taking water or by peeing in the woods, but that doesn’t make it right. 7 Sisters supported by the Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club, benefits the Friends of Mt. Holyoke Range. These groups, like many others in New England, are stewards of the trails. So, by registering today, your money went towards the maintenance of the very trail that you ran on. What a privilege.

I saw several people on the trail without numbers, but I’ll give them the benefit of doubt. They may have been hiking, but, it didn’t look like it. Debbie witnessed a finish line incident when the RD asked a finishing runner what his number was. He said he didn’t have one. When asked why he was racing, he replied, “Just for fun,” and walked away. Like I said, lame. Debbie is the RD of the Soapstone Mountain Trail Races in two weeks. The entries are filling up our mailbox, so I know that there are a lot of honest runners out there. $17 for pre-entry. You get 13.5 miles instead of 12 and a post-race cookout. $17 isn’t as cheap as 7 Sisters, but damn close! Let’s hope the renegades stay home.

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