Sunday, October 11, 2015

2015 Monroe Dunbar Brook Trail Race

For the past two years, I've taken photos of racers crossing the stream at mile 9.5 of the Monroe Dunbar Book Trail Race (see galleries for 2013 and 2014). I love the splashy drama and they're some of my favorite photos, but this year jealousy got the better of me and I decided to run it again. I couldn't have chosen a better year.

The weather was simply perfect: sunny, warm but not hot, low humidity, and a light breeze. The late arrival of fall this year meant that there were far fewer leaves covering the trail than usual, resulting in a much easier experience finding footing along the way.

L: early climbing at Monroe.  R: singletrack path at Monroe.

I've thoroughly described the course in site 6 of my guidebook Trail Running Western Massachusetts, and blogged about the race in the past (see post here), so I won't repeat any of that information here. As for my race this year? Awesome. I felt great throughout, and I beat my 2012 time by more than 2 minutes.

There was one incident that hobbled me a bit, however. I tried a different (new) pair of socks in my ASICS Fuji Racers, and it turned out to be just as stupid a thing to do as they always tell you it will be. The socks slipped down my heels in both shoes, resulting in an uncomfortable, almost certainly blister-producing scenario. So, on the summit ridge, about halfway up from the powerlines to the top, I stopped and sat on a fallen log and removed both shoes to fix things. Untying and retying double knots and taking the shoes off and pulling socks up probably cost me a minimum of two minutes, which is kind of a lot in a race like this.

Otherwise, I couldn't have hoped for better. I finished in 1:45:40, which was good for 19th place.

me crossing Dunbar Brook at Monroe

Jen ran the race too, and was delighted to defeat the weird asthma demon that had been dogging her ever since late May. She finished in 2:10. At the finish, where there was a great picnic barbeque hosted by the awesomely relaxed and low-key Western Massachusetts Athletic Club (WMAC), we chatted with various friends who had run, including Nate Davis, Dave Stauffer, Arron Stone, Tim Mahoney, Benn Griffin, Rob Higley, and others. And after that Jen and I found our way down the steep slope behind the picnic area and sat on a sunny boulder next to the Dryway section of the Deerfield River for about an hour and watched kayakers and rafters shoot the rapids (Dragon's Tooth, I think) about six feet below us.

I realize it sounds somewhat overblown to say so, but all in all, the 2015 Monroe Dunbar race experience almost perfectly captured the spirit and essence of everything that I love about trail running.

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