Thirty years ago this weekend, i ran my first St Mary's Feast 5.5 Mile race. It is held at 5 pm on a Saturday and needless to say, is normally a swelteringly hot day with very little shade along the way. This was race #11 of the year for me which also make it 11th ever, seeing this was my first year racing. I started out with my buddy Richard Collard and after pulling away from him, ended up in a battle with Darryl Simoneau from Cumberland HS, getting out kicked into the finish. I finished in 30.30 for 5.5 or 5.7, or whatever the real distance was. My friend, Roland Davide, in my opinion, the best runner ever to come out of Rhode Island, easily won the race. Roland was on the comeback trail at the time with a lot of great running in front of him.
Along the way, i logged many long runs with Roland, which helped push me to the extreme. We would run a Saturday morning 21 miler that was back loaded with some killer hills, pushing up the pace towards the end of the run. It was not unusual for us to run the last mile in 5-5.05 after running two shitty steep long hills leading to the finish at his house in Coventry. Of course, there were days when i would just grab his shoulder and say SLOW DOWN, we always ended up picking the pace up again anyway. I remember one long run leading up to the New York City Marathon in 1982. I told him of this 20 mile workout we could do on a rolling course out around the Scituate Reservoir. We headed out on the supposed 20 that ended up being 27 miles, the pace coming in was fast. I think Roland was pissed! We were wiped out, having no water for 27 miles will do that, but back then, who needed water anyway. Because of my indiscretion in getting the miles right, Roland told me i had to double up on my races the next day so i could join him at an afternoon race he was committed to running at the PM Pub. We both ran the Warwick 10k in the morning where i surprisingly ran 32 flat for a PR at that distance, Don't remember Roland's time, but i would guess it was 30 low change. Later that afternoon, we showed up at the PM Pub and went 1-2 for the 5 mile race after an early scare from Dick Tardiff, who rocketed out at the start, and we no doubt, enjoyed a few beers after the race. The photo in the local paper had us finishing side by side and many people said i almost beat Roland, Yeah, Right. He was a sub 30 10k guy, no way i was beating him at that point of my running career. I really enjoyed my time running with Roland Davide and he is part of the reason i got as fast as i did.
Shoot ahead 20 years to the same weekend as St Mary's and we have the Wachuset to Wachuset Road Race. Like St Mary's, it was a late afternoon 5 mile race and this year, it was hotter than hell. Race time temp was about 95 degrees. I made the trek up to this race with some of the Turtle boys, Dave Larsen, Mark Mitsmenn, Ernie Valliere and Chris McDonough in Dave's 1977 Eldorado. There is more room in this car than a school bus. One of the major draws here was that it finished at a brewery with live music and beer after the race, what is better than that! It also had 40% downhill and only 20% up in this point to point race, so the course profile seemed quite interesting. The race started in the parking lot at the ski area and came screaming downhill to Rte 140 and then headed along rolling hills until you hit the 4 mile mark where it went down for about 3/4 of a mile and then flat into the finish. My last mile of the race was a 4.40 mile, side by side with Dan Johnson from Providence, not bad for a 41 year old. We came in towards the finish and realized that you had to make a sharp 180 degree turn 100 meters from the finish. At the pace we were running, we thought, who the f--- thought up this finish? Dan, with the younger legs, got me in the sprint. The last mile was electric, it had to be one of the most exhilarating last miles i ever ran in a race. Side by side and neither would give, striding like gazelles, that is what racing is all about!
Too bad this race only lasted for a few years, your entry fee got you a t-shirt, a pint glass and a growler of beer along with music and food. Why do these races always seem to disappear?
Wachusett to Wachusett 5-Miler
Westminster, MA, July 17, 1999
1 1/98 M2029 24:20 4:52 ARTHUR GILKES 25 M 774 SOMERVILLE MA CMS2 2/98 M2029 24:41 4:57 DANIEL JOHNSON 26 M 956 PROVIDENCE RI BAA3 1/176 M4049 24:43 4:57 SCOTT MASON 41 M 576 WARWICK RI TNT4 1/203 M3039 24:47 4:58 MAURITS VAN DER VEEN 32 M 775 SOMERVILLE MA CMS5 1/19 M0119 24:55 4:59 MIKE SMITH 19 M 3034 PRINCETON MA CMS6 3/98 M2029 25:00 5:00 RICHARD BOLT 28 M 862 PEPPERELL MA CMS7 2/19 M0119 25:21 5:05 NATE JENKINS 18 M 3037 TEMPLETON MA UMASS LOWELL8 4/98 M2029 25:39 5:08 KEVIN BECK 29 M 982 CONCORD NH CMS9 2/176 M4049 26:49 5:22 TIM BLOUIN 42 M 607 TEMPLETON MA GLRR/NMC10 2/203 M3039 27:09 5:26 JASON CAKOUROS 34 M 107 MILTON MA