Saturday morning was the 36th Annual Stratham Fair Road Race, with the unique distance of 5.7 miles. Last year I ran this race for the first time and was soundly beaten by UNH women's track coach Casey Carroll. This year I showed up in better shape and confident that I could at least run the time that Casey ran last year, 30:53.
Looking around during the warm-up and at the starting line I noticed a few contenders, including Casey, Al Bernier, and Nate Huppe. There are usually a few kids who bolt out hard at this race but once we got a half mile into it, a lead pack of the four of us were rolling along with a few chasers. We hit the 1st mile in 5:07, with Al at the front pushing the pace. Al stayed at the front pushing the pace for most of the second mile before Lawton Redman came up from the chase pack and took the lead. From there he basically just slowly pulled away and left the rest of us to race for 2nd place. We hit mile 2 in 10:17, so still a pretty solid pace for me. Mile 3 was a little slower for us, as Al let someone else take over for a bit. As Lawton pulled away I tried to muster a group effort to chase him, but there were no takers. I took over the lead of the chase pack and tried to push through the middle miles without letting it slip off too much. At mile 3 we were 15:48 and Nate dropped off somewhere around here. Al and I were running side by side through the 4th mile with Casey right in our shadow drafting a little bit. As we hit mile 4 in 21:14 I mentioned to Al that I just PR'd in the 4 Mile. A couple of minutes later at about 4.5 I noticed Al grab water from a water stop and I decided it was time to create some separation from the guys if I could. Lawton was far enough ahead that it was clearly a race for 2nd place. I managed to get about a 50 yard lead on Casey and Al but never felt safe because they are both really strong runners. I hit 5 miles in 26:40, which was also a PR for that distance. The last mile has a series of 3 hills that are like a ladder so it isn't exactly a fast finish, but the final straight is pretty flat. I managed to push all the way to the finish and crossed the line in 29:48, which was almost a minute better than I was hoping for, and more than 2 minutes faster than I ran here last year.
Obviously I was hoping to win the race, but was a little bit consoled by a quick Google search, which revealed that Lawton Redman competed in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, in the biathlon. I guess I can't complain too much aout getting whipped by former Olympians.
This race also has a team competition between Coastal and The Winner's Circle, so we managed to get most of the Sunday Group out there and covered most of the age groups really well. I know we at least won the mens, 20, 30, 40, 50, women's 30 divisions. It takes them a while to score it all but I think we should have done pretty well. (UPDATE: Coastal won!)