Sança Shines in Mountain Debut

by EJN Comments (0) Articles, Racing

Ruben Sança looked like anything but a rookie in his debut and Leslie O’Dell showed no signs of marathon fatigue as they both picked up wins at the Pack Monadnock 10-Miler

If you didn’t know it before, you know it now: Brandon Newbould is back. Coming off of wins at Sleepy Hollow and Wachusett, Brandon was in great shape for the overall mountain series and looking to pad his early season lead. Normally when you see that Newbould ran 3 seconds faster than his winning time from 2014, you would think that meant another victory for Sasquatch. But on Sunday Brandon’s 1:04:05 was only good enough for second place.

There was some buzz ahead of time as Ruben began to express some interest in mountain running in the days leading up to the race. But would he race? Did he ever! Ruben won in dominate fashion, running a 1:02:32 on the challenging course. That’s a sick time, as it also beats Justin Freeman’s 1:03:36 from last year too.

Here’s a Q&A with the track Olympian turned mountain champ:

What brought you out to this race?

Ruben makes the final ascent, courtesy of Mike Quintal.

I went into the race to look for a new challenge and to break up the the cycle of training a bit. I haven’t begun any workouts yet so this was a good way to get the rust off. I plan to do a lot of late summer and fall racing.

Were you able to stay relaxed/in control as much as you wanted to, or did the course make you work harder?

I tried to run as relaxed and conservative as I could but also be smart and respect the terrain profile.

Was that last mile or so as hard (or harder) than expected?

The last mile was something I’ve never experienced in racing before. It would make Heartbreak Hill feel like a bump on the road.

How was your first mountain experience overall?

Overall, I think the level of difficulty in mountain racing is extremely underestimated. It would be great to see how much I could improve by if a specific mountain block was added to my training.

What’s next for you? Will we see you at any other other mountain races this year?

Obviously, New England has a strong reputation for its series and I’m not counting myself out from looking at new racing challenges in the near future.

Since he mentioned the terrain profile, here it is with his pace for comparison (courtesy of Ruben’s Strava entry):

It might not be as glamorous as Mt Washington, but that last mile+ is right up there with the Rockpile in terms of difficulty.

For the ladies, Leslie O’Dell picked up another win and also did so in dominant fashion. Although Leslie didn’t have that same ‘international Olympian making mountain debut’ story that the press would eat up, she did have an interesting angle of her own. O’Dell had run the infamously hot Vermont City Marathon only a week prior to this, put on a race of her own a day before this, and then went on and won a damn mountain race. It’s exhausting just typing that.

On that blistering hot day in VT, O’Dell ran a 3:07 and finished 9th overall (2nd masters). She then turned around and won Pack Monadnock in 1:20:48 (26th overall). Always impressive to see the masters runners win outright! A couple of youngsters on her heels: Jamie Woolsey (33, 1:22:23) and Madeline Rieders (17, 1:22:32). The 9 second gap between Woolsey and Rieders sounds painfully close. Nine seconds can easily be gained or lost on that final, relentless climb.

Back to O’Dell, we had to find out a little more about how she was able to turn around and compete so quickly. And why, oh why, would she do that?

Why, oh why, dear God, would you do a mountain race 7 days after a marathon?

Hahaha! Why not?! In all honesty, I was pretty reluctant, but I need to get 6 mountain races in to count for the circuit. Pack, Ascutney and Greylock are really difficult for me logistically with my kid, so when I had a definite plan in place for him for Pack, I had to do it. I’ll admit I dreaded it all week. I knew I wouldn’t be recovered enough to run a really good race, but I felt like I could possibly pull off a win which gives 100% for points. It was worth a shot.

What did you do to recover in between?

For recovery in between, I took Monday off. Tuesday-loop mountain run up and over Mt Chocorua, about 8 miles. Sounds crazy, but my body is so used to doing slow mountain runs that this is actually my preferred recovery run. I took Wednesday off. Thursday, I ran the weekly Trail Running Series at Great Glen Trails. It’s 3.4 miles. Ran my fastest time yet and finished 1st among the women. Friday- Ran my own race course in prep for a race I directed Saturday. Took another zero on Saturday. Sunday…I hoped for the best. Long story short….I recovered by running off road until Pack.

What was the hardest part of the race?

Hardest part of the race was mile 8 for me. I had gone out too fast for what my body really should have been doing today and I blew up in the last 3 miles. I still ran exactly what I predicted, though, so all in all I’m happy. No real regrets.

Finally…What’s more painful, a marathon in dangerous ‘wet bulb’ conditions or a mountain race in a pouring rain only days later?

The apocalyptic wet bulb conditions were way more difficult to run in than the rain today. When I checked in, I actually said, “These conditions are great!” I was told I was the only one so far who thought so. Well, then, they’ve never met The Wet Bulb when it’s in a rage.

We hope none of you out there ever encounter The Wet Bulb when it’s in a rage. For more on this, check out:

Updated mountain series standings

Mountain series milestones

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