Some of the area’s best runners ventured out to Westfield, MA on Saturday to line up for the First Annual Western Mass Distance Project XC Festival. Those who made the trek out west were rewarded with a fast course, good competition, spectacular fall weather and one heck of an after-party.

The New England championships will be held on this very same course (Stanley Park) on November 18th, so this made for a great chance to preview it before the big day.

Amidst the sounds of Zeppelin and Rage, Brian Harvey (BAA) sat back in the early stages as the race looped the fields a couple of times for the men’s 8k. He turned it on when it mattered and emerged from the woods with a comfortable lead (winning in 24:49). The women’s 5k race was a bit more dramatic as Kyle Linn Feldman used a late surge to out-kick Erin Dromgoole (NBB) and break the tape in 17:32.

The BAA swept the team awards, placing four in the top five and seven in the top thirteen to easily take the men’s team title and then placed all five scorers between fourth and eleventh to take a much closer women’s race. [See full results here.]

Brian Harvey spoke to Level Renner after his win:

Is it just me, or is the banner in the background spectacular? We also caught up with women’s champ Kyle Linn Feldman:

As some of you may recall, there was some smack talk between Eric Ashe and Sean Duncan on the Level Renner Facebook page.  It’s all in good fun and only serves to (hopefully) generate some more interest in the event, along with provide some extra motivation to the competitors. Both were two weeks removed from lightening fast races over longer distances, with Eric running a 67:29 at the BAA Half and Sean a 2:24:59 at the Chicago Marathon. We got both of them on camera after the race to talk a little about their rivalry:

We like to throw some fuel on the fire where we can. Duncan, we need to get footage of you out-kicking Ashe to make a game out of this! Speaking of rivalries and competition, the boys (and girls) in blue have really burst onto the scene in 2012. Not only are they making races more competitive with their deep, talented team but they’re also making things more fun. This was the first event that they have hosted and it also marked Jason Ayr’s first crack at directing a race. Duncan got back on camera, joined by Ayr and Kevin Johnson, to talk about their team, the event and upcoming races:

All in all it was a successful event. The group was somewhat small, but that only seemed to heighten the sense of camaraderie in the air. After they battled fiercely out on the course, everybody came together for a big group picture and then, a little later, for some pizza and beers at Whip City Brew. Respect the process. Leave it all out on the course. And then, when the work is done, take a moment to celebrate with your fellow runners before starting up the process all over again.

We need to take this opportunity to give a few shout-outs. We were able to provide some prizes to the top finishers of this race thanks to some of our sponsors. Skechers kindly contributed a free pair of shoes to the top three male and female finishers, along with free water bottles to just about everybody there. The good people at Sigvaris pitched in with a pair of compression recovery socks to the female champion. The very lucky ones scored themselves a Level t-shirt. Thanks to Skechers, Sigvaris and, of course, to WMDP for putting on a great event.

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