Tuesday, May 18, 2010
A day of surprises for NETT at Soapstone Mountain Trail Race
It was a day of surprises at the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race this weekend for NETTers. Mostly pleasant surprises, but at least one mini pony got an unwanted surprise, to say the least.
Soapstone is a fan favorite among the trail running faithful in New England. You don't stick around for 26 years without doing something right. In fact, it looked like this year might have seen a record number of entries. Getting better with age.
But without a doubt, the MOST pleasant suprirse of the day came from BIG LEO FAHEY! It was a surprise when Leo said he was going to run this race. He's never done a trail race this long and has been in semi-seclusion for much of the past year, so his fitness level was a real unknown. But Leo's a guy full of surprises and quieted the skeptics when he came galloping up the grassy hill to the finish on Sunday, completing probably one of the toughest races of his career. Big Congrats Leo. Despite his raving about the veggie burgers after the race, Leo treated himself and Shereen to dinner at the Capital Grille later that night. He certainly earned it! BIG CONGRATS to BIG LEO. This might top his performance at the Skyline Trail race a couple years back....the legend grows.
Unfortunately for Chris Smith, it was a less-than-pleasant surprise when, well into the race, he came into the second aid station for the second time! It seems he and a couple other runners went off-course and, after wandering for a bit, found their way back onto the course, but at a much EARLIER portion, so they had to re-run a pretty lengthy section. Testament to Chris' toughness, when they did get to aid station two, the second time, the other two guys with Chris chose to drop out and hitch a ride back to the finish. Chris, however, sucked it up and continued running and was one of the last runners into the finish.
As he trotted toward the finish line, more than three and a half hours after he started, Crazy Dave asked him..."Are you okay? What happened?" To which Chris replied, "I got a little bit lost" making that "little bit" sign with his fingers. Gotta love this guy's attitude. No tantrums. No blame game. Take it as life brings it and keep on running.
It was a small but very pleasant surprise when Doris said she was interested in running the Soapstone Sampler, a 6K handicap race they hold in conjunction with the 24K race. And it was a surprise to Doris when she found out that she had to run a massive sand hill as part of the Sampler. But, no surprise, she tackled it without much effort and was all smiles by the end of the race (in fact she was in such good shape, she was mugging for the cameras here).
It was also a pleasant surprise to have Mary Smith come along to Soapstone as well. She's a kickass trail runner and this is a kickass trail race, so it was a perfect match. And no big shocker that Mary handled Soapstone's steep climbs, rocky descents and long stretches of streambed running perfectly in stride, finishing as the 7th woman overall in 2:27. While there's just a hint of strain on her face at the finish, clearly we still haven't found anything that will break Mary. Heck, she barely even got her new shoes muddy!
Crazy Dave had a less-than-surprising race, finishing 6th overall in 1:49, the exact same finish he had last time he ran this race in 2006. And he ran much of the race with trail running cronie Keith Schmitt, two veterans of the trail running circuit putting in another race. "It's just like the days of old," Keith yelled over his shoulder as he pulled away in the last mile. Yup, just like the days of old, Dave thought to himself.
It was also no surprise that the Shenipsit Strider crew put on a great event with tons--I mean tons--of volunteers involved. After years of successfully guiding this race through some choppy waters, trail legend Jerry Stage missed his first Soapstone this year, but it's in the capable hands of Deb Livingston full-time now, so Jerry can rest easy with that knowledge. Thanks for the years of service, Jerry and keep up the good work Deb.
To see more photos go here.
FULL RESULTS OF THE 24K posted here.
Photos courtesy O'Shannon/McGillicuddy Productions.