Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Up Down and Around Challenge

The Up Down and Around


In its second year, the Wachusett Ski team hosted the Up, Down, and Around challenge adventure race. The proposed course takes athletes on a 5 mile run with about 50% trail, 8 mile hilly bike over some pack dirt, a climb to the summit and ski down. Yet in adventure racing proposed courses don't always stick.  Like many of the other end of the ski-season races this year, snow was lacking. In response, the pentathlon was changes to a quadrathlon, run, bike, hike to the summit, and a downhill run.

There was a good turnout for the race with 50 solo competitors otherwise known as" mountain men and women" and 11 teams. The solo division brought out some tough competition that included triathletes, trail runners, rando-racers, and other multi-sport adventure racers.

The run took us on a beautiful loop through non technical fire-roads, quaint neighborhoods, and a challenging hill at the finish. Still feeling tired from last weekends Berkshire Pentathlon, I focused on keeping to an easier pace and save some juice for the climb. I finished the run leg in 8th place right along  Dave Mangori. Dave and I had an epic battle a month earlier at the Jones 10 mile road race and it looked like this could be a rematch.

I brought my tri bike for the ride and kept with the skinny tires. The website told cyclists to ride with a bigger tire but for this day, i found the dirt roads manageable with a racing set-up. The dirt road only lasted about 1.5 miles towards the end of the course. I would though recommend a road bike as the roads are  rolling with one steep hill, a couple fast descents, and quite bumpy. As a result, I did not ride as aggressive as i would have in my road bike. I was though able to move up a couple of positions on the bike, but Mangori was no where to be seen.. Mangori was able to increase his lead by 2 minutes over me on the bike....nice ride Dave!

The hill climb went straight up Conifer, one of the ski slopes at Wachusett. The trail was muddy with some pockets of snow to maneuver around. I was running when i could and walked when the slope got too steep or I felt my heart rate pumping out of control. I felt good while passing a few more athletes, then at about 3/4 of the way up i saw Dave. I caught up but I knew i had to build a lead. Dave is an excellent runner and i did not want to compete with him head to head on the downhill. I finished the hill climb with the 3rd fastest time of the day. I felt redemption after last weekends struggle up the very short climb of Berkshire East.

The Downhill route went half-way down the Summit Road and turned off onto a really nice single track. Athletes finished with a half lap around the lodge and under the banner. I ran by myself most of the way down not seeing anyone in front or behind. That was until we came out of the woods when i turned around and saw Mangori closing in. We sprinted around the building and though Mangori pullled off the 2nd fastest downhill time of the day, i was able to hold on to my lead and finish 11 seconds ahead of Dave, and 6th overall.  

The Up, Down, and Around went off great in spite of the changes of the course. This is another example of how adventure racing is all about racing in the conditions that are present on that day. I would suggest if the downhill run/trail run happen again, to utilize the trails on the east side of the mountain to the summit. There is beautiful single track there! 

A great day by all and thanks to Wachusett for putting on the race. I hope to see it back every year and hopefully next year with some snow!

Tough Competition!! Four of the top seven place finishers, Dave M (7th place), Jeremy A(5th place), Josh F(3rd place),and Russ J(Overall Winner). Where is that growler Russ?

Check out the nice video put together by Rt2 photography


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