2019 NipMuck Trail Marathon

I hadn’t raced at the NipMuck Trail Marathon since 2011, but today, I joined Debbie to run a relay on the famed course. Before that, I had raced (the full distance) six times dating back to 2004 with one of my best races ever coming at the 2009 event.

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It’s been 10 years since that performance and today’s run on the first leg of the course brought back fond memories of that day when I had a battle with Brett Stoeffler and then Ryan Welts. Brett succumbed to a sprained ankle, but Ryan and I fought to the finish and both got personal bests on the course.

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The course evolves a bit year to year and this year was no different. Debbie has raced NipMuck a few times since 2011 and I’ve been there to watch and volunteer, but this year with the advent of the relay (it started a few years ago), we made the last minute decision to run.

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Since I did The Night Weasels Cometh cyclocross race last night, I opted for the shorter first leg that goes south from Perry Hill Road to the turnaround at Route 44, and then back to the start/finish line. It was about 11.2 miles (measured by my GPS) and took me 1:37:51. I don’t know what that leg took me in 2009, but it was probably slower despite the fact that I wasn’t even halfway.

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I felt pretty good despite last night’s effort and pushed it every chance I got. Given the terrain, I held a strong pace the entire leg (the first three miles were quite fast before I settled in) and was able to keep my heart rate elevated and stable. The trail was in good shape, but just as rocky as ever.

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It is also covered with leaves, which makes it a bit risky for the ankles. Thankfully, I finished unscathed. I tagged in Debbie and she took off on the northern section that goes to Boston Hollow Road before turning back and retracing the route to the finish at Perry Hill Road.

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Shepard was with my in-laws, so Dahlia joined us and assisted at the finish line aid station. She made a lot of PB & J’s and kept the other volunteers and runners smiling with her wit. It was fun to watch her in her element. Debbie “needed” to get in the woods this weekend and doesn’t have any running goals on the calendar yet.

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After last weekend’s Vermont 50 (which she rode), she is itching to set some goals. In the meantime, she just wanted to get into the trees and on the trails.

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We weren’t the fastest relay team, but it looks like we did break the 4-hour barrier, which is pretty cool . There were a few all men’s teams that beat us and at least one mixed gender team beat us too, but it looked like they might have been 20 or so years younger.

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Our days of blazing the NipMuck Trail could be behind us, but we remain inspired by other veteran runners who were out there crushing it today, including NipMuck Dave the legend.

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It was great to see some old friends who were cheering on the runners, including Will Danecki (who had a bridge named in his honor by NipMuck Dave), and Kenny Rogers, who came down from Massachusetts to support the race. Even Sheryl Wheel came over from New York. We last saw her running away from us at the Manitou’s Revenge Ultra, a race she has put her stamp on.

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Race Director David Merkt (NipMuck Dave the Junior) and the great volunteers from our favorite running club, the Shenipsit Striders, did a fantastic job. Once again we got support from the Eastern Connecticut State University Women’s XC Team, from the Willimantic Athletic Club, and from the Connecticut Trail-Mixers.

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I felt like I could have kept going, but I did the wise thing and stopped when I handed the “baton” to Debbie. It was fun to do something together for the second week in a row.

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SmugMug Photo Gallery

Race Results

 

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