Soapstone Assault

Another Soapstone Assault is in the books. This mid-summer classic is a Shenipsit Striders tradition. The race used to be in October, but it faced a lot of competition in the fall. In mid-July, the trail running calendar is a thin, so the Assault is better positioned to attract a bigger field. Of course, a big field for the Assault is 25 people. With the handicap start and 1,800 feet of climbing in 5.5 miles, it isn’t for everyone. Today’s weather was atrocious. It was 80F degrees and 95% humidity. In one hour, I think I sweat as much as I did during the whole month of June. 

The Assault requires skills that I don’t have. I’m not talking about the running. I’m talking about the navigation. For the third time, I missed a key turn. The race has six ascents (and five descents) of Soapstone Mountain. You have to be aware. Several of us missed climb four. It’s crazy, but there was a cone right in the middle of the trail indicating the left turn. I still missed it. So did the guy that was likely headed for the win. He dejectedly quit. I opted to repeat the section I missed and finished. 

There was a good turnout and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, despite the humidity. One person who didn’t get lost (for the first time), was 78 year old Rich Busa. It was great to see the living legend and catch up a bit. He had a fine run today. Debbie also had a decent run, but well off her course record time. The heat was a major factor. She had the lead until the bottom of Killer Hill, but Brett Stoeffler caught her and went on to win. Apparently, he wasn’t saving his legs for Monday night’s Grand Prix Series race at Wickham Park. We will find out tomorrow if he is going to pay the price for pushing so hard on that final climb.

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