2010 Soapstone Assault

The Soapstone Assault is a quirky little race that is beloved by those who know of the event. It never attracts a huge field, but it remains a Shenipsit Striders tradition. Today’s edition was started and finished by 15 intrepid runners who dared to “assault” Soapstone Mountain six times.

Like its cousin, the Soapstone Sampler, the Assault is run using a modified Dipsea Race handicap start formula. This year’s Dipsea had a most amazing result, with a seven-year-old winner, so it was appropriate that we continue our tradition of handicap starts for this mid-summer trail race. We didn’t have a young or old victor today, but you never know when you might get a surprise winner.

The Assault is somewhere between 4.5 and 5.5 miles. It is hard to get an accurate measurement because there is so much undulation and tight cornering on a compact course. The Assault isn’t known for its distance anyway. It is known for its elevation gain and loss, which is astounding given the distance. Those actual figures are also unknown, but running up Soapstone Mountain six times and down five (you finish at the top of the summit fire tower) is enough for most runners. Unofficially, there is 1,800 feet of elevation gain and 1,500 of loss.

Shenipsit Strider club mates, Scott Turco, Mark Bongiorno, and Bruce Giguere trained on the course for their Massanutten, Western States, and Vermont 100 runs; and “assaulted” the mountain up to 24 times in a session. They are pretty intimate with those trails.

Today’s race was won both outright and with the fastest actual time by Brett Stoeffler. He ran an actual time of 47:07. Accounting for his modest head start, his net time was 44:46. He caught Debbie Livingston on the Quarry Trail. She held him off for more than four miles, but ended up finishing second overall with the second fastest actual time of 52:35. She was followed by John Agosto.

The view from the tower was excellent. You could even see Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire, way in the distance. Everyone enjoyed themselves and the post-race treat was fresh watermelon. It was a great low-key race for a low-key day. I had Daddy Duty, registration duty, and I was one of the “timing guys.” Maybe I’ll run it again next year. Photos will be posted in a day or two.

Race Results

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