Story by David Principe
Eight Turtles and Joseph Reddy’s daughter, Meaghan, showed up in force in Wakefield on Sunday for the first race of the winter trail series put on by Mike Galoob (Off Rhode Racing). It was a fairly chilly morning, and an incoming cold front made it chillier by the minute, but the race started and ended before it got cold and rainy.
The race started at 10am, but TNT showed up at 9am and decided to do the 5K course as a warm-up. The course changed this year, so even though many Turtles were there last year, there were many new trails incorporated into the event. Many of us were not familiar with these trails in the first place, so doing the course as a warm-up was a great way to get in our miles and also know what we were up against.
The course was a little soft and mushy in several places, but not too bad. There were several wooden spans and bridges that you had to jump on and off of, and also some stone bridges to navigate over, which added to the technical difficulty of the course. There were the typical amount of roots and rocks at the beginning, but I found the later half of the race on the newly cut trails to be excellent surfaces to race on. The course in general had numerous twists, turns and switchbacks, which are always, fun. For these reasons, it was great to have run the course before the race! The course was very well-marked and pretty easy to follow, as well.
The race started on a grass area behind a ballfield with about a 200-meter straight away that featured a sharp turn and an embankment at the corner of the field. You needed to get out quick and carve out your spot at this corner so you did not fall off the embankment. Afterward, there was plenty of room to re-adjust and get into a good position before hitting the single track in the woods. As a result, most of the top 10 or 12 runners went out pretty hard.
Leading the way into the start of the trails after the initial sprint was DJ Principe, with Bob Jackman right on his heels. They were both passed in the early section of single track by last year’s series champion Derek Jakoboski, but they both kept him in fairly close contact. Three of our Westerly Track and Athletic Club rivals were sandwiched between Bob and me, with Bob Corsi right on my heels. As it is in so many trail races, the pecking order was established fairly early on and pretty much held through to the finish.
Derek won the race, with DJ and Bob only 8 seconds and 10 seconds behind him, respectively. The three WTAC guys in front of me were in fifth, sixth and seventh places and also held their spots through out the race. I was our third scorer in ninth place, with Bob Corsi coming in shortly after me in 10th. The top three runners from each team scored for the team title, and we squeaked out the win with our second-, third- and ninth-place finishes over WTAC’s fifth-, sixth- and seventh-place finishes.
After the race, we did the course again for a cool down and then took part in the awards ceremony. There was plenty of food, soup, hot chocolate and coffee afterward, as well. All in all, it was a great way to start the week!