Mount Toby Trail Run

Yesterday, the Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club hosted the Mount Toby Trail Race in Sunderland, Massachusetts. It was my fourth time running the 14 mile Toby out and back course. Deb also ran and has done the race a bunch of times too. The race application says you climb 1900 feet in two sections on the out leg with an equal amount of descending on the back leg. Since it isn’t completely up or down in each direction, total climbing is 2300+ feet, at least that is how I interpreted my GPS results. Even by New England standards, 1269 foot Mount Toby is merely a bump, but it still has a cool fire tower at the summit. 

Toby is about as close to a road race as a trail race can get. That doesn’t mean it is easy, but it is well suited to beginners. You would have to be a lousy navigator to get lost and the trail conditions are tame. This makes the race fast and fun. 

The results aren’t posted yet, but one of the highlights for me was Ruthie Ireland’s win in the women’s race. Between 7 Sisters and  Mount Toby, she must have been feeling snake-bitten with victory eluding her at both races in recent years. It seems that if it is always a different woman outrunning her. Yesterday, she came out on top and nearly caught me. If the race was 15 miles instead of 14, I would have been dead meat. Congratulations Ruthie. I felt OK in the first seven miles on the way up to the fire tower, but not great. I was able to close in on Bob Sharkey by the top (he is running stronger than ever) but he dropped the hammer on me when we turned around to run down the hill. After the first mile of descending, I went into survival mode for the next six miles. Eventually, my nemesis, Todd Brown, caught me to add salt to my wounds. I’ll get him back! I struggled into the finish (smiling) in 1:51:32, nearly eight minutes slower than the last time I did Toby. 

Debbie had a good race after a three week layoff following the 33 mile Ultimate XC: Vermont Edition. She hadn’t run at all until last week, choosing to take a late summer rest in advance of a big fall ultra-marathon schedule. She finished in third place in 1:57:30. 

Weather conditions were great for running yesterday. It wasn’t too hot and the trails were dry. The post race picnic highlight was the fresh corn on the cob. Secretly, I root for Debbie to win every year because division winners get to pick from a variety of prizes. Berkshire Brewing Company always donates a six pack of their 22 ounce Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale. She may not drink…but I do!

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