The Caumsett 50K again served as the USATF road 50K national championships, and it brought many excellent runners from near and far. Unlike previous years, the weather was warm (temperatures in the 50's) and sunny. Like previous years, GLIRC put on a first-rate event.
The course was slightly altered, with an out-and-back section added to bring the course loop to an even 5K. I wasn't crazy about slowing down for the extra turnaround, but mentally it was nice to have to run only 10 laps instead of 12 or 13 as before. And the return of the staging and finish line to the Winter Cottage, near the parking lot, was very welcome.
The warmer weather brought a more relaxed yet energetic feel to the start line. The field included a lot of top runners, including two-time returning champion Michael Wardian, Ben Nephew, Daniel Verrington, Mark Godale and Scott Dunlap for the men, and Annette Bednosky and 2009 24-hour co-champ Jill Perry among the top women. All the local favorites and friends were there too, too many to mention, but you know who you are! Met many new friends, too, always a good thing.
The race in general went well for me. At the start, Michael Wardian took off like a flash with a group of runners not far behind him. A fairly large gap opened up between them and another group of runners that I was at the front of. This group included early women's leader Jill Perry and Aaron Heath, who I was leapfrogging with for the first four laps. Eventually the other runners in my group dropped back a bit but I saw no sign of the runners in front of me, at least not until Michael lapped me on teh fifth lap, and 2nd place runner Malcolm Campbell lapped me nearere the end of the race. But I was able to keep consistent pacing and felt secure in my 9th place position. It didn't look like I would beat my PR from last year of 3:25 and change, but if I kept up the pace I could still finish under 3:30. On the second half of my last lap, Ray Krolewicz pointed out the 8th place runner, Jesse Regnier, who was only about 30 seconds in front of me and who looked like he might be slowing down. I did try to catch him, but he wasn't slowing down that much. It was very close, but he finished 14 seconds ahead of me. My finishing time was 3:28:48, a good second-best personal time. I did finish first among the local runners, a few minutes ahead of my buddy Byron Lane, so unless one of those eight come back for another race this year, I'll get 1,000 points in the Grand Prix race. (And the race is on...) ;-)
Michael won the men's race in 2:55:50, coming within a minute of his course record time from two years ago, second was Malcolm Campbell and third was Scott Jaime, two runners whose names were new to me. The women's winner was Yolanda Flamino in 3:34:26, second was Annette Bednosky and third was Jill Perry.
It astounded me, however, that there were nine people finishing under 3:30, and there were 21 who finished under 4:00! It was a very strong field. And there were also some incredible runners there who were not running. Howard Nippert was there as the UASTF liaison. Ann Heaslett was there supporting her daughter, who I believe ran the 25K. And Scott Jurek, who was in New York on a speaking tour, stopped by to visit and say hello, and I believe his girlfriend ran the 25K.
It was good to catch up with all my friends after the race, not having seen most of them since the fall. Food and beverages were plentiful after the race, and all were in high spirits.