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Downtown Temple,NH

Monday, December 7, 2009

26th Annual Mill Cities Relay

Yesterday I took part in the Mill Cities Relay (results), a 27.1 mile 5-person relay from Nashua NH to Lawrence MA. If you don't live in the Merrimack Valley you probably never heard of it. This invitation-only club event includes 20+ running clubs from the Merrimack Valley (NH & MA) and has grown to over 200+ teams and 1000+ runners.
I was running the 5th leg of a great Coed Masters team (The WereWolfes of Lawrence) so I had a chance to drive along the course and take a few pictures. You can check them out here.

Kevin McIntyre, Leg 1, 5.6 miles

 Karen Pattelena, Leg 2, 4.75 miles

 Tammy Gaffey, Leg 3, 2.5 miles

photo credit - Michael Wade 
Jeff Hunt handing off to me at the final transition

The recent snow and cold weather only played a minor role this year (unlike last year), with just a few icy spots to deal with (pretty much on every leg). Other than that it was a great day for racing.

Our club (Gate City Striders) were the defending champions and we were looking to repeat. With 127 runners on 27 teams (covering all 13 categories), we were ready for the challenge. Thanks to Michael Wade for spending untold hours contacting runners and setting up the teams to give our club the best chance at winning. In the end his magic formula did just that, giving the Gate City Striders the Club Championship for the 2nd year in a row!

Total Points for Each Club
   Gate City Striders              106
   Winners Circle Running Club      99
   North Medford Club               80
   Somerville Road Runners          76
   Greater Derry Track Club         63
   Whirlaway Racing Team            43
   Greater Lowell Road Runners      41
   Shamrock Running Club            41
   New Hampshire Athletic Alliance  30
   Merrimack Valley Striders        30
   North Shore Striders             26
   Wicked Running Club              24
   Squannacook River Runners        19
   Mystic Runners                   14
   Gil's Athletic Club              11
   Andover Striders                 10
   Melrose Running Club              9
   Sandown Rogue Runners             5
   SISU                              0

Check out how we did in each of the 13 categories. Pretty strong & balanced showing across the board. Congrats to all teams.

Male Open - 2nd
Male Masters - 2nd
Male Seniors - 3rd
Male Veterans - 3rd
Male Ancients - 1st

Female Open - 2nd
Female Masters - 1st
Female Seniors - 3rd
Female Veterans - 1st

Coed Open - 1st
Coed Masters - 1st
Coed Seniors - 4th
Coed Veterans - 3rd

Everything worked out just fine and no real issues to speak of (other than a minor baton problem in leg 1). This is a tough race to really know what your position is during the race. So unless you recognize other runners, your finishing position tends to be a mystery until they post the results. For me, none of this changes the way I run my leg. Everyone is an equal opportunity competitor. If I can pass you, I will. If I can hold you off, I will. If you pass me, I get mad (but I won't hold it against you). In the case of my leg, I was able to do all three, passing 2 runners, getting smoked by Paul Doe and holding off a charging Goon Squad Coed team.
I never felt great during my run but I'm not complaining (much). After hitting the first mile in 5:51 and getting passed by Paul Doe at the same time, I settled into a more manageable pace for me as we climbed a modest hill between miles 2 and 3. I missed the next couple of mile markers so pace was a mystery from 2 miles on.
In the end we finished 14th overall in 2:47:55 (6:12 pace), 1st in the Coed Masters Division. For our efforts we get a brick! Congrats to my teammates!!

As for my 4.75 mile leg, I finished with a time of 28:30, 6:00 pace even. Of course my car was still at the previous transition area so as soon as I finished my leg I turned around and ran the leg in reverse back to my car (and yes, I got more than my share of "you're going the wrong way" comments). Once I got my car I started heading back to Lawrence for the post race party. As I was waiting for the light to change I spotted a familiar face standing in the cold...teammate Jeff Hunt. After running 9.5 miles he discovered a snafu with his transportation. His car was supposed to be at the end of his run. It wasn't. So he's been standing in the cold for over an hour, freezing his arse off. I picked him up, cranked up the heat (and heated seats!) and went looking for his car. We found it, making its way back to the transition area...finally. He survived and lived to run another day :-)