2015 TARC Spring Thaw 6 Hour Trail Race

Today we returned to the TARC Spring Thaw 6 Hour Trail Race for the first time since 2012 when Debbie ran it in glorious conditions. Today’s conditions were far from glorious and there was no sign of thawing. Now, that wasn’t a surprise. The fierce New England winter is not over yet and spring may officially start next week, but spring weather is likely weeks away. So why were the conditions so rough for this Trail Animals Running Club event?

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The main reason was that the trails were covered in snow…lots of snow. This part of Massachusetts has seen more than 110 inches of snow since November. Sections of the course still had 24 soaking wet, partially compacted, inches remaining. It was ugly. There really aren’t DNF’s in a race based on time, but some of the runners were stopping after one lap, and I don’t blame them. Some took to the roads of Andover, which is ironic because the town is known for its great trails, including the Bay Circuit Trail, which was part of the course.

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Well, those trails are buried right now. The best way to walk or run on this kind of snow is with snowshoes, but from what I heard, USA Track & Field rules didn’t permit the use of snowshoes today. Micro-spikes and similar shoe spikes were a common site. Horst Spikes might have worked! Debbie’s small Kahtoola spikes weren’t small enough and they wouldn’t stay on her feet, so she ditched them after one lap, which was too bad. The first lap was the worst for everyone. Most people ran their second lap faster. After the 100 or so starters compressed the snow a bit, the conditions improve, but only a little.

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I couldn’t get any traction when I was walking on the trails. They were slippery and treacherous. A few spots where there were stream crossings were actually muddy, which made it even worse. Cold and dry snow (if that makes sense) would have been better conditions. We have had some melting in the past week and it was 37 degrees Fahrenheit during the race with constant rain and intermittent downpours. So, the snow was waterlogged and icy. Conditions really couldn’t have been worse.

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Everyone out there, including the volunteers (many from TARC), deserve credit for spending time in the woods on this March day. I brought my bicycle and rode out and back on the roads near the course. It’s worth noting that the roads of New England have been hammered. I’ve ridden in both Connecticut and Massachusetts in the past week and the potholes, cracks, and sand are atrocious. I rode back to see Debbie complete each lap, which was 40-50 minutes for 3.5 miles. The first lap had an extra .5 mile of road added in an attempt to spread out the runners before they entered the single track. Even in dry conditions, other than the first/last 50 meters from the woods to the aid station, this race is all single-track. Today, it was more like half-track. You had to step out of the groove to let another runner pass. After my ride, I did a short road run, and then I went out on the course with my camera to get a closer look at the carnage.

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Race Director Emily Trespas got a lot of help from her TARC mates. Yesterday, she hosted volunteers on the trails for a “stomping party” in an effort to improve the conditions. They really had no impact. Runners were constantly “post-holing” which is no fun. If you got off the compacted snow by even a foot, you risked plunging up to thigh deep.

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Gregory Soutiea completed eight full laps and the official two-mile out and back for a total of 30.5 +/- miles. Amy Rusiecki wasn’t far behind him at the end of her eighth lap, but she didn’t have a whole lot of time left on the clock and stopped at 28.5. Debbie ran much of the race with Sonja Glaser, including all of the final two laps. Their seventh and final lap was their fastest, which proved that you really couldn’t run as fast as you wanted because the conditions were so bad. Kudos to them for getting seven done in 5:56, just under the six-hour cutoff. It would have been a real bummer if they didn’t finish and lost the mileage. That’s the game you play with a timed race. So, they finished with 25 miles. In the perfect 2012 conditions, she did 34.5 miles. What a difference three years and all that snow makes!

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Speaking of thawing, Debbie didn’t thaw out until the end of our two-hour drive home. It is nice that some race proceeds benefit several trail organizations including A.V.I.S., the Andover Trails Committee, and The Bay Circuit Alliance.

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Next year, if conditions are similar, let’s skip this ridiculous race and go to the Caribbean instead!

Race Results

1 Response to “2015 TARC Spring Thaw 6 Hour Trail Race”



  1. 1 2015 ULTRA-TRAIL Mt. FUJI | Life Adventures Trackback on 29 September 2015 at 5:13 am

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I got to sample the fun activities at Boy Scouts @troop25ct Camp Kirkham. I slept under the amazing stars. We had a full agenda of geocaching, archery, cooking, disc golf, and paddling. I even squeezed in a run to the top of Silver Mountain where I had a 360 degree view. #boyscouts
It was great fun cheering for the Bolton Center School XC Team and their coach @trailrunningmom at The Panther Fest. Go Bulldogs! #crosscountry #trailrunning ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿฝโ€โ™€๏ธ ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿฟ
#carfreecommute #wickhampark
Itโ€™s easy to love the infamous water (muck) crossing at the Trails to a Cure (Cockaponset Trail Race). We felt like sea monsters! I canโ€™t believe how out of breath I was after fetching my camera at the finish and running the 1/4 mile back to catch @trailrunningmom and Shepard make their crossings. Either hey are getting faster or I am getting slower! Maybe more swim-run is in our future. ๐ŸŠ๐Ÿฝโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿฝโ€โ™€๏ธ #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #blueblazedtrail #trailrunning
Good fun kicking off the 2019 #cyclocross season at the #QuadCross It was also the launch of the 2019 @zanksscx which is my prime CX objective. #crossisboss @horstcycling #horstcycling #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #crossspikes #sevencycles
Yesterdayโ€™s late afternoon ride was fantastic. The #hoprivertrail to #airlinetrail to #charteroakgreenway is now my favorite loop. The natural beauty that starts right out my front door is proof that #connecticut trails are VERY underrated. I even got to share several miles with @pearljam09 #railtrail @eastcoastgreenway #eastcoastgreenway #bicycle #sevencycles #evergreening
Shepard had an awesome two weeks at @troop25ct Camp Kirkham in #newhampshire Some of the learning included First Aid, Fish & Wildlife, Sports, Photography, and Swimming. It will be great to have him back home. @boyscoutsofamerica
Little D and I passed though our favorite state on the way to NH this morning. #vermont
I dusted off my #triathlon gear for the first time in more than two years. I had to wipe mold off my running shoes, and it felt good to wash my bike. Itโ€™s good to know I can still throw it down at 47 but I will admit that we all got thrashed by a talented 15-year-old Junior. At least I got my photo with him! Iโ€™m waiting for his Dad to message it to me. ๐Ÿ˜€ MY Dad even pulled out a vintage 2002 race shirt to honor the occasion. The weather at the @hmf_events Niantic Bay Triathlon was spectacular. We saw lots of old friends. ๐ŸŠโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿšด๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿฟ#teamhorstsports @horstcycling #shenipsitstriders @seven_cycles #sevencycles

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