2017 Soapstone Assault

We love the Soapstone Assault. We love the Shenipsit Striders. Today was our annual race up and around Soapstone Mountain in Somers, Connecticut. In recent years, the race has doubled as our running club’s summer picnic.

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The Assault is a five-mile trail running race in Shenipsit State Forest with six trips up (five trips down) the mountain. The final ascent is up the infamous Killer Hill. All you have to do is search my blog for more history on the Assault and how it is scored using the Dispea Race system.

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The gist of it is the system is if you are older or younger, you get a head start; and women get a head start over men. It is age and gender graded, so the first person across the line, regardless of age or gender, is declared the winner. The way we run it, it’s an honor system thing. Everyone gets a letter on their bib number that represents your group. The timer calls out the letter and you start with that group.

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Debbie, Shepard, and I ran. Dahlia hung out at the water station. I thought I had Debbie beat, but I made a stupid wrong turn around the four-mile mark, or rather, I missed the second to last turn up the hill, and added a little extra time (Strava shows 2.5 minutes) to my race. I never caught up with her, though she did pass me coming down the Quarry Trail while I was heading up. She was faster on the downs and I was faster on the ups, but ceding time to her is a sure way to lose in our life-long Livingston Family Trail Running Series. I dug out my classic early-1980’s singlet and shorts. The next time I wear that kit, will be on a future Halloween. Five miles in that get-up was enough, but brought back memories for me, and generated some laughs from others. The set came out of a bin of vintage Striders supplies that we had in our basement.

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Shep had a rough day, but he persevered and finished, which we told him is good for his experience. Every race can’t be a great race, and most are just for fun. Nothing is more fun than a local race on some of your favorite trails, even if you should know the course, but still convince yourself to not turn when you come to a busy trail intersection.

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Stefan Rodriguez, who took the wrong with me, caught up to Debbie, passed her, and took the overall win. Debbie followed him. I was third. Jason Kudron was fourth, after he led most of the race, but apparently, he made the same wrong turn that Stefan and I did, but went even farther down the wrong trail before turning back. I couldn’t stick with Stefan after we turned back, but I was happy to just cruise it in after mentally checking out. Unfortunately, a lot of people behind us also took the wrong turn. It should have been marked, and has been in prior years, but wasn’t marked today. Ugh.

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This year’s special timed competition at the summit included several tasks. You had to do 19 Burpees, then thread a needle, and then tie a knot in the thread. The winner earned a plate of home-baked cookies. Debbie took the prize (for the second year in a row) in 2 minutes and 9 seconds. Most people had no problem with the Burpees, but threading the needle was hard. I chose to sit and watch. I never sew, and that is more often than I do Burpees.

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Even better than the race was the post-race picnic. We invited club members and anyone else who wanted to hang out to join us in the picnic grove just below the summit. We had an awesome pot-luck meal and cookout. It was a beautiful day and it was a lot of fun to catch up with everyone. The Shenipsit Striders have been represented at some amazing races in 2017. Two weekends ago, on the same day, our members were represented at  the Laugavegur Ultra Marathon in Iceland, Hardrock Endurance Run in Colorado, and the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run in Vermont. That’s covering some ground! Everyone was happy to race closer to home today.

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We were the last ones at the picnic when old friend, Jeff Woods, came running down the hill. He didn’t realize it was the day of the Assault, and had just run over from his house to get in some training miles. He worked hard to convince Debbie to join him at an upcoming adventure race in Vermont. She and Jeff are AR teammates going back to the early-2000’s. His invitations are always compelling, so she has to think about this one, especially with the Cascade Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run only a month away.

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Our club will host the final Bolton Summer XC Series Race this coming Wednesday, and then the next major club event is 10 weeks away at the NipMuck Trail Marathon. This will be the 34th running of the classic! The Assault and NipMuck are both part of the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series. The next series race is Saturday at the scenic People’s Forest Trail Run.

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Race Results (timer was started with the first runner and doesn’t represent actual time)

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