All posts by SirGeorge

Chasing the belt buckle – Massanutten Mountain Trails 100

The coveted Belt Buckle.

Everyone in the club knew that as John Peabody prepared for the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 on May 12-13, 2012 he was focused, pure and simply focused, on one thing….completing the race to win the coveted belt buckle.

John is no stranger to the concept of indomitable spirit and pushed himself to a 46th place out 196 starters in less than 30 hours.

You can see all of John’s splits here.

Congratulations John!

Race report: Sunken Well ‘Race to the Top’

OK, well it wasn’t quite the ‘Belly to Belly’ as there were no hotdogs involved, but on Saturday afteroon I branched out to compete in the Sunken Well ‘Race to the Top.’ This race, held annually in Fredericksburg, VA to benefit the SPCA, involves a 2/3 mile out and back run and the downing of 2 beers. Participants – of which there were maybe 30 or 35? – run uphill into the Sunken Well Tavern, chug a beer, continue out the back and up hill steeply to the fire hydrant before running back down – dodging traffic – into the tavern, chugging another beer and then finally returning to where they started.
Before the race I was a little nervous as I have not chugged beer in as long as I can remember, let alone tried to combine it with running. However, I surprised myself. While I am certainly no pro, I was only dealing with Bud light and it wasn’t as hard as I expected! On the way up the challenge was being out of breath which certainly slowed me down. However 2nd time around I was practiced and had less trouble. And while I did not come anywhere close to the young male winner (he finished in 4.20 something), my time was a respectable 5.37 making me first female orFBI!

Vicky Jasparro breaks 3 hours

Holy Toledo – Sub 3!

Vicky Jasparro

A week and a half ago I had never heard of the ‘Glass City Toledo Marathon’. And until I decided to avoid the oven-like temperatures of Boston, I had never heard the expression ‘Holy Toledo’. However it certainly applies to my w/e of success in the Mid West.
Desperate not to throw away my months of training, a couple days before the 2012 Boston Inferno, I went online to and looked for a backup race. My criteria were a fast flat course and a location where the long range forecast called for cool temps on Sunday 22nd April. It quickly became apparent that Toledo was my only choice. So I rallied to arrange last minute plane tickets and a hotel room, change vacation dates at work and add in a side trip to visit my mom in Cleveland. Then I sat and worried. Would I really be able to deliver on my training? Or would this all be an expensive stress filled waste of time? What if the weather forecast changed? Or the course wasn’t all that it was chalked up to be?
Apart from forgetting my checked bag at the airport in Cleveland (yeah – with all my running gear inside! Thank God I realized and went back), my travel to Toledo went off without a hitch. I arrived on Friday night so had plenty of time on the Saturday to visit the expo (tiny – quite the opposite of Boston) and drive the course to check out all its quirks and myriad of turns. I also went for a short jog to explore the last mile of the race so I would know exactly where it went and just how short it would feel the next day.
The Toledo Marathon is not large – close to 1000 runners, but there is also a half marathon and many relay teams which makes it feel like a bigger race. More importantly, as I found out, the course really is ‘Mid West flat’. It starts and finishes on University of Toledo campus, and winds its way through various beautiful neighborhoods and a metro park, as well as along two different sections of a bike path. All surfaces are paved and beautifully smooth. The only possible downside to the course is that the main roads are not closed to traffic and so runners are restricted to running in a coned off lane rather than being able to freely run the tangents as the course was measured.
Sunday April 22 was cold and overcast as promised, and slightly breezy. Temps were in the high 30s at the start of the marathon and while I was running never got above the mid 40s. My goal was sub 3, and my plan was to run a 6.50 pace in order to give myself a little bit of cushion. Other than a bad patch between miles 19 and 21, and the inevitable tiredness in the closing miles, I felt pretty good and strong most of the race and was able to just follow my plan. That said, I was anxious and constantly running scared, never really sure that I could or would meet my goal until the very end. During the race I went back and forth a few times with the ‘local running celebrity’ – “Tina” – who had friends on every corner and a running buddy to join her every few miles. However she opened a gap on me during my bad patch and so I just tried to keep her in my sights and use her to help me achieve my goal. The strategy paid off as in the last few miles along the bike path I managed to run in the 6.40s. I then pulled off my very last mile in 6.36 to cross the 50 yard finish line on the Toledo University football field in 2.59.14. This earned me 4th place female, a small cash prize and a jacket. Holy Toledo I did it! Sub 3! Boston here I come next year.

Running Age/Gender Grading Calculator

As my calf muscles scream from my first 5K of the year and as I try to figure out how to get a little faster at the sweet old age of 52, which is completely doable – I continue to be inspired by the plethora of 50+ year old Turtles who continue to put up incredible times week-after-week.

As I measure myself against myself and the talent that I have the fortune to train with I do have a little fun plugging my times into  an  age-grading calculator…

Check out

Age grading calculators  provide an age-graded race time and an achievement percentile for a recent performance at a specific race distance.  Age-graded information allows you to:

  • Judge your performance, using an achievement percentile, without bias for gender or the aging process.  These percentiles are classed as follows:
  • Over 90% — World Class
  • Over 80% — National Class
  • Over 70% — Regional Class
  • Over 60% — Local Class

Have Fun.


Sign up for a free digital New England running magazine – Level Renner

Hi all,

In this blog entry I’d like to give a little Kudos to the folks over at Level Renner for producing a great online magazine all about running in the North-East. if you haven’t yet, I’d recommend that you sign up for a free digital copy…that’s right…it’s free

Welcome to the Underground. You’ve found the website of Level Renner, the premier journal of (new england) running for the olde school athlete. In each issue: elite athlete profiles (pics on left), performance articles, general running commentary, retro rat reissues and so much more. Run on the ground. Read the underground. Keep it on The Level.

Hyannis 1/2 Marathon Race Report by Vicky Jasparro

Vicky Jasparro
Vicky Jasparro

On Sunday February 26, Issy Neilson, Vicky Jasparro and John Brennan braved the Cape wind gods to race the Hyannis Half Marathon. As a note for future years, it is worth getting to this race early. Traffic backs up heading into town, parking can be quite a hike from the race start and packet pickup is complete chaos.  However, if you can survive all that, the race itself is great. The course is a scenic coastal loop, mostly flat with some parts gently rolling, providing the potential for fast times.

This year the wind created some challenges – blowing in the 20mph range with gusts much higher. However the Turtles took it in their stride (it wasn’t only a headwind!) and pulled off some decent times. JB ran a solid 1.28.24 which gave him 2nd in 50-59 AG. Vicky ran a PR of 1.25.30, good enough for 4th female and 1st in the 30-39 AG. And after duking it out with Joan Benoit, Issy passed her in the final stretches to achieve a PR of 1.31.18!

Post race, Vicky, Issy and her friend Sara headed to the Hyannis British Brewing Company (BBC) for the all important job of beer drinking. Being Turtles, they made it there well ahead of the crowds and secured a prime spot up at the bar. The BBC has a wide selection of beers on tap so no one was disappointed. The menu is also large and includes several British favorites (Cornish pasties, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips…). Needless to say the hardest part of the day was recognizing it was time to leave and return to real life back in RI…

Tuesday Night Turtles race results 2/12/2102 to 2/26/2012

Issy Nielson at the 2011 Gansett Marathon
Issy Nielson at the 2011 Gansett Marathon

Mid-Maryland Ultra 50k and Relay

Elkridge, MS – 2/11/12

10th – Issy Nielson – 4:46:17 (1st Women and Course Record)

Sweethearts 4 ever 4 Miler

Hartwood, VA

9th – Chris Jasparro – 23:47 (2nd 40-44)

28th – Vicky Jasparro – 25:55 (1st 35-39)

54th – Issy Nielson – 28:35 (1st 25-29)

Chris and Vicky were 1st place in the couples division


Brr-linggame 15k Trail Race

Charlestown, RI – 2/12/12

2nd – Alan Bernier – 57:28

19th – Scott Mason – 1:08:03

Old Fashioned 10 Miler

Foxboro, MA  – 2/19/12

57th – Lawrence Walker – 1:09:26

Hyannis Half Marathon

Hyannis, MA – 2/26/12

68th – Vicky Jasparro – 1:25:30

105th – John Brennan – 1:28:24

158th – Issy Nielson – 1:31:18

DH Jones 10 Mile Road Race

Amherst, MA – 2/26/12

35th – Alan Bernier – 55:27

88th – Martin Tighe – 59:02

107th – Robert Jackman – 1:00:49

201st – Karen Benway – 1:08:28

Please note that the results were manually compiled by Bob Jackman and if Bob missed any just let us know and we will update this page.

Photo by George Ross

Haile Gebrselassie has set his sights on reclaiming his world marathon record in Tokyo

Feb 24 (Reuters) – Ethiopian great Haile Gebrselassie has set his sights on reclaiming his world marathon record in Tokyo this weekend, five months after losing it to Kenyan Patrick Makau.

“I have come here in a good condition,” the 38-year-old dubbed the “Emperor” told reporters ahead of Sunday’s Tokyo Marathon.

Gebrselassie was scheduled to run in Tokyo last year but suffered a fall in training and pulled out with bruised knees.

His luck went from bad to worse when he pulled out of September’s Berlin Marathon with asthma as Makau raced away to set a new world best of two hours, three minutes and 38 seconds.

Gebrselassie’s previous record stood at 2:03:59.

The twice Olympic and four-times world champion in the 10,000 metres, who insists he will compete at this year’s London Games, will face a strong field in Tokyo.

Race record holder Viktor Roethlin of Switzerland, last year’s winner Hailu Mekonnen and Japanese talent Yuki Kawauchi in the field, Sunday’s race could be run at a cracking pace.

“This course is one of the fastest in the world,” said 2010 European champion Roethlin, winner of the 2008 Tokyo Marathon in 2:07:23. “I believe Haile can run very fast on this course.”

Gebrselassie insisted that the fact marathon running holds a special place in Japanese heart was not lost on him.

“The marathon in Japan is a culture, a tradition,” he said. “It’s serious.”

Roethlin spoke of the hushed awe in which the runners were treated in Japan.

“It’s not just a race, it’s a philosophy,” he said.

“The crowd is unbelievable. In Tokyo, there are more spectators than in New York but they don’t make noise like they do in New York.

“It’s more like a sound of respect and it gives you a lot of energy.”

Gebrselassie gave an insight into what made him tick.

“In a marathon you run against the distance, not the athlete,” he said. “That’s the difference between the marathon and 10,000 metres.

“I used to be a 10,000 runner and the marathon is the one you have to run perfectly. That’s why I could not run last year because I fell down in a forest three weeks before the race.

“I have been very careful over the past month not to repeat the same mistake.”