Tag: Western Mass Distance Project

WMDP Struts Their Stuff

The Chicago Marathon

the western mass distance project struts their stuff in the midwest

“When you run the marathon, you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time.” – Haile Gebrselassie

[Editor’s Note: This was submitted by an Anonymous Wolf about the WMDP team’s experience at the 2012 Chicago Marathon. Since we’re in the midst of fall marathon season and Chicago was just last weekend, we thought it was appropriate to re-share.]

WMDP in Chicago
Chicago, IL – The men of the WMDP Wolves toed the line of the 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 7th, 2012 with vague expectations. We expected it to be long. We expected it to be painful. We expected it to change us as runners. However, what we did not expect was the degree to which each of these expectations would be met.

The race was the reason for the formation of this rag tag group of Western Massachusetts runners. As with any training plan, this one began with a base and became more defined throughout…and so did the powder blue of the WMDP. What started off as a reason to send sarcastic emails and trash talk to each other progressed into serious training advice, Grand Prix wins, and a large group of teammates descending upon Chicago on October 7th.

The gun went off and we immediately grouped together like penguins in an Arctic storm. The feel was intimidat- ing, but much more bearable with the group. In an event requiring such mental strength the age old saying “two heads are better than one” holds true, and eleven heads are even better than two.

The first 8k passed by like we were standing still. It was more a game of consciously selecting our pace, constantly checking with each other if the group agreed. I am unsure if there was any passing going on, though there may have been hundreds of others still around us. All that’s clear to memory is turning to Dave, turning to Kevin, turning to Nico, looking for a quick nod at each mile marker. It was shortly after this point that Duncan let the group ahead drag him in their wake. We opted to hang back. It would later become clear that everyone involved made the right decision.

The next portion, 10k through 13.1, seemed to be a one mile transition from floating to tempoing. The pace remained perfect and the now group of four looked smooth. As a foursome we now rolled through Chi-town alone, feeding off the “Western Mass!” yells that occurred every 1200 meters or so, compliments of Sean Duncan’s warning ahead. We imagined floating off the back of Coach OB’s little green Tacoma, rolling through the country roads of Hadley listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Becoming aware of where we were in the race and the crew I was rolling with, I began to get a little giddy, maybe displaying more comfort than was warranted.

Entering the third quadrant of the race, the group was cut down again. This felt a lot like the end of a long summer at summer camp. We were approaching the infamous 20 mile mark and the cool, calm, and collective four had to dismantle. Enough piggy-backing. It was now a long and lonely battle we each had to bear…alone (and that’s not easy for a pack of wolves).

I’ve heard about the wall. I’ve also wussed out in races ranging from 1 mile to the Half Marathon, but I can say with 100% honesty: I did not bag this. This just happened. I found the wall.

Mile 23 felt like someone from the crowd ran out and gave me a bear hug, one which the spectator decided to hold tighter and tighter through each remaining mile and not let go. The difference in the end of the marathon and the end of a 10k is in the 26.2 you’ve earned so much more of what’s behind you. Fading in a 10k with 1200 meters to go results in a bad feeling, may be a bad time, but another opportunity next week and only 5.5 invested miles. A marathon, however, is your baby by mile 23. You’ll fight to the death to protect it.

As we congregated at the finish line, watching our teammates pour in and crowd the finish chute with blue jerseys, I must say I was living my best running experience to date.

“Four under 2:30!”… “Six under 2:34!”… “Peabody! You crazy bastard!”… “Eight under 3:00!”… “Get me an IV of beer… seriously…”

We shared a large portion of that race as a unit; we all had similar experiences (confirmed through conversations that followed), but we all came out with a different number. The number is more than a PR; it’s the title to an entire story.

I can’t tell the story of my teammate’s numbers. I imagine there were loud drums in the background of the story titled 2:24:59 (Sean Duncan) as it was told in a heroic war-like setting. The story of the 2:33:20 (Matthew Peabody) taught a message of dedication and self-belief, an inspirational story to say the least. The story of 2:25:43 (Kevin Johnson) was a comeback tale teaching lessons in maturity and control.

At the end of the day your marathon PR will by no means change the world, but it will change yours, and that seems a significant enough change to me. Many could RUN one, I recommend RACING it.

An anonymous WMDP Wolf wrote this article. This article originally appeared in Nov/Dec 2012 issue of Level Renner. Get your free subscription today (box in upper right portion of screen).

Living The Dream

Amy Rusiecki, along with her husband Brian, has been selected to the US Team for the IAU World Trail Championships. The race will be held in Wales this summer. Since Rusiecki is her married name, some of you may know her by her maiden name of Amy Lane. Still others may be more familiar with her nickname of Amy Fucking Lane, as was revealed in her profile in the October 2012 issue of Level Renner (There Will Be Blood, pgs 14-17). That name would seem appropriate for a bad ass character in a Tarantino flick and is quite fitting here given the reputation she has developed as a tough-as-nails runner.

Here’s a firsthand account from Amy herself about being selected to Team USA:

When I was young, I remember driving in to Ashland and watching the Boston Marathon. I would cheer on every athlete out there, because they were amazing to be out there, running Boston. Running that far seemed so incredible, and it didn’t matter to me where they finished…they were inspirational to be doing it. It inspired me to be a runner, and started the dream of someday achieving something as incredible as the marathon.

Courtesy of Scott Livingston

Courtesy of Scott Livingston

I’ve run for most of my life, and while I’ve enjoyed races of all distances and all terrains, I found my true passion with trail running and ultrarunning. Perhaps I’m a masochist, because the longer the better…the tougher the better…I crave adventure. I’ve won the highly competitive Seven Sisters Trail Race, I’ve completed four 100 mile races (with two more coming this summer), I’ve twice raced a 6-day 120 mile stage race over the Colorado Rockies, I’ve won numerous 50k and 50 mile trail races throughout New England. I enjoy pushing my limits and continuing to learn about myself through distance running. I feel at home in the community that trail and ultrarunning provides.

Running has given me so much – it has given me an outlet for my energy and passion. It has given me a community of training buddies and Western Mass Distance Project teammates that inspire and motivate me. It has given me confidence in myself that I lacked for so long. Several years ago it found me my husband and gave us common ground to share. Most recently, running has given me the opportunity to represent my country and race on an international platform at the IAU World Trail Championships, fulfilling the dream of my youth to wear USA across my chest and run for my country. Even better, it is allowing me to share this opportunity with my husband, Brian Rusiecki, who has also been selected for the US Team.

The USA Team selection is coming off many successful years of ultrarunning competition for myself and my husband. Brian has been a dominating racer in New England over the past 4 years, but 2012 was his most successful season.  He won more ultra races than anyone else in the country (an honor I obtained in 2010). He dominated races up and down the east coast, ranging in distances from 50 mile to 100 mile, and was voted #6 on the ‘UltraRunner of the Year’ by UltraRunning Magazine. I had my best 100 mile finish (finishing just 2 minutes shy of the female winner), won the storied Vermont 50 mile race, and finished 2nd in the 6-day, 120 mile TransRockies Run stage race. Coming off that success, Brian and I are both honored to have been selected for the US Trail Running Team.  It is the first national team selection for either of us.

The World Trail Championships, taking place in Wales, will be a 75k technical trail race in early July. The 10-person team includes three New England runners: myself, Brian, and Ben Nephew (CMS).  I think that the technical rocky terrain we play on in New England will serve us well when we race this challenging course in Wales, and played into the selection heavy on east coasters.

I think my feelings on this are summed up well by Sabrina Little, who recently competed on her first US team at the World 24 Hour Championships:

“There are some exclusive clubs that are difficult to gain access to, but once you get in, life is easier. You can relax. Take Ivy League institutions, for example. A U.S. National Team is not like that. Earning the American singlet is difficult, and once you do that, more is demanded of you because running is no longer a singular pursuit. You represent your country—your coaches, your family, and your freedoms. It was weighty, so I was feeling anxious.” – Sabrina Little, US 24 Hour Record Holder, on her first US Team selection.

Note: The USATF does not support the US Trail Running Team at this time. To support Amy and Brian’s effort, click here.

Rising to the Occasion

A couple of socially awkward, psychotic, douchegoblins did the unthinkable on Patriot’s Day. They don’t deserve to have their names repeated here. Instead we’ll call them Douchegoblins 1 & 2 should we need to specify as we go along. I don’t want to dwell on their acts either, but focus more on the response from the city in the following days.

In the wake of the tragedy, before the shootout that brought the whole city to a grinding halt, there was a few days in between in which we were all still trying to make sense of it all. It was in that time where I ventured out into the city to see for myself what Back Bay now looked like.

It wasn’t until Wednesday that I made the trek over the bridge from Charlestown, but as you already know the area was still locked down. However, amongst the ramped up p0lice presence, national guard and barricaded streets, were signs of hope.

At every blocked off street there was a memorial of some type. The biggest one seemed to be (at the time) at Boylston and Berkeley. The stretch of Berkeley was open to traffic, but the stretch of Boylston between Berkeley and Arlington was so quiet that I thought that stretch of road was closed too at first. In fact, even Newbury was quiet enough where I had to keep reminding myself to be on alert for traffic. With so many people walking around outside and so few cars around, it was easy to forget that not all the roads were closed off to vehicles.


It was nice to see the flags, flowers and signs there, but it was pretty crowded (big media presence) so I made my way out to Newbury Street and continued walking up towards Dartmouth Street. Each intersection had its own little memorial, a sign of hope and beauty amongst the reminders of the ongoing manhunt and investigation.

People were out trying to help lighten the mood and raise spirits, by either adding to the memorials, playing music or even bringing refreshments to the cops who were out keeping a watchful eye on the scene. Even the Scientologists were out pushing a cart full of Dunkin Donuts and stopping to offer some to the police. I wouldn’t want to drink their kool-aid, but is the coffee safe? At this point I was up to Exeter St and figured it was time to head back anyway. Better go before the Scientologists try recruiting me. I didn’t make it very far before one of them caught up to me, made eye contact, and said….hi. And that was it. Wait, that was it? I guess I’m just not Scientology material.

IMG_1441Along the way home I noticed that somebody had been busy writing uplifting messages on the sidewalk in chalk. It wasn’t until I was on my way back that I caught a glimpse of who was doing it. It turned out to be just a couple of BU students, a boy and a girl, just roaming the street and dropping down whenever they felt inspired to do so. I turned the camera on to capture them writing one of the messages, but beyond that they had no interest in any credit being given to them. They just wanted to anonymously do some good.

Shortly after I happened to be walking near a young lady (don’t know her name) wearing the 2013 marathon jacket so I asked her about her race. She was one of the many who got stopped at mile 25.5 and couldn’t finish the race. According to her, the cops just told them all to disperse. Her family was in the bleachers when the bombs went off but thankfully escaped unharmed. Every time she added another detail I couldn’t help but feel even sorrier for her. It was her first marathon. She was running with her sister, and it was on her birthday. Her 26th birthday, and she couldn’t even make it the 26 miles because of the aforementioned douchegoblins. But she was determined to run again in 2014 and it was nice to see yet another runner who undeterred by the cowardly act.

A couple days later, the suspects were “accounted for” and my focus was on to more positive things. The Western Mass Distance Project hosted a Run For Boston at Stanley Park (home of Jason Ayr) in Westfield, MA. Seat belts buckled, radio turned up, check engine light on…we were ready to hit the road (ignoring the check engine light as usual). We were leaving home just as things were quieting down and part of me wanted stay there and get out and enjoy the city. This swelling of pride for my city only got worse when I started playing Black Out by the Dropkick Murphys.

Stanley Park was alive with activity on Sunday morning. There was a crowd there ready to do some good. Since there was no registration, it was tough to put an exact number on just how big the crowd was, but it looked like it was north of a thousand. Companies like Dunkin Donuts and Stop & Shop stepped up to donate refreshments, there was a DJ, and even some port-a-johns were donated.

Jason Ayr grabbed the mic and said some inspired words to us all, followed by a moment of silence. There was a lighthearted moment just before the race got underway when everybody was in the start area but unsure of which direction the run would progress in. It was funny, and it represented the day fairly well. We were all just a bunch of runners getting together to do some good. There was no timing, there would be no winner, heck there wasn’t even a distance. Just go run some laps!

When all was said and done, the Wolf pack had raised over $7,000. It’s comforting to know that as impressive as that is, it’s just a drop in the bucket for the One Fund. Because we’ve all risen to the occasion, it now has over $26.5 million in it. It’s absolutely incredible. It’s amazing what can happen when the community comes together. We saw it on a smaller scale in Westfield on the 21st, and we’re seeing it on a larger scale every day in the wake of the tragedy. Boston Strong.

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Theraflu and Whiskey

Guest blog by Jason Ayr

So what do we talk about when referencing the 2013 Boston Marathon?  I, like many others, feel a sense of guilt in recounting my race experience from a running perspective.  It is, however, important for us to talk about our races.  Our races are what make this event so special.  How very special this event is has not gone away, nor should the stories of our races.

The marathon matures you in many ways.  The long efforts after a work day, the execution of willpower during your taper, and the mental battle over the final miles are unlike any other racing experience and they mature you.  In the running world it is a guaranteed long term goal; an “all your eggs in one basket” challenge no matter how you look at it.  A disappointing result in this race requires the patience to prepare and race another.

I felt pretty good about my training going into the 2013 Boston Marathon.  It was by no means perfect, but it was a vast improvement on anything I had done before it.  I attribute this to coming off my first competitive marathon in October 2012 and my growth as a runner resulting from this race.  All was looking good, until the Friday before the race…

I broke out with a 103 degree fever Friday night and the idea of racing drifted away.  In all honesty, I was feeling bad for myself.

Screen shot of a Google chat conversation between EJN and Jason, less than 24 hrs before the gun went off. Luckily he didn't need any cowbell.

Screen shot of a Google chat conversation between EJN and Jason, less than 24 hrs before the gun went off. Luckily he didn’t need any cowbell.

Saturday was spent drinking a Theraflu and whiskey combination recommended by a Lady Wolf and chugging water in between naps.  I tried to remain focused on the marathon, but it became a bit of a fairytale idea when my symptoms were up.  The body aches were not jiving with the “above the neck” symptoms I was reading about in my countless Google searches for “racing with fever”.  Saturday was not a good day for the body, but I forced my mind to remain on the race.  I owe that to the Wolfpack.

Sunday my symptoms had vastly improved.  I was congested, but my fever was down and my back aches were gone.  I trotted a 4 mile jog to evaluate my situation and besides some very stiff legs I was feeling optimistic.  I attributed my heavy legs to my 36 hour stint in bed to keep the thoughts positive about racing.  It was time to head to the Expo and pick up my packet before 6PM.

One complete scan of the Hynes Convention Center and I was pumping with adrenaline from head to toe.  I was still eating Zicam like skittles and drinking water until my pipes hurt, but I was feeling the race atmosphere and confidence was growing.  I made it a main objective to keep the bout with sickness out of my mind; the marathon puts enough doubt in your head, no room for extra baggage.

Monday came and excitement ruled the morning with subtle fear coming along for the ride.  I executed a nice 7:30 mile warm-up with drills and entered the corral about 8 minutes before the gun – perfect timing thus far. I was relaxed and ready.

Jason and Brandon working together. Courtesy of Scott Mason.

Jason and Brandon working together. Courtesy of Scott Mason.

Out in 5:29 – IDEAL. I settled into a nice group with Brandon Newbould and some other non-New England runners. We were a solid bunch and there was a fair amount of work shared. We came through half in 1:11:22 off of pretty even splits. I was very excited with this, but there were some lingering doubts that drifted in and out from as early as mile 4. I was able to continually convince myself that these doubts were a result of the “excuse” I had in my back pocket – that I was “sick”. I wasn’t playing that game, so I continually pushed them away. As Dave Johnson and I talked about earlier on Sunday, if I was really being affected by the sickness I would know right away, so no carrying that crutch for the inevitably hard parts of this grueling event. Moving forward with my recount we will forget about the sickness all together, it had no effect on my day.

Going into Newton I was actually gaining confidence. I began shining through as one of the stronger ones in the pack I was running with and pulled away on some of the uphill stretches. My splits slowed to 5:38-40, but since I was stretching out my pack I knew these slower splits were a result of the hill and I had no concerns. It was not until Heartbreak Hill when I knew the day would feature a real struggle to get to the line. This is a typical timeline for a Boston runner as I gather. I fought hard for my 6:05′s through the final 10 kilometers of the course. I was inspired by fans at some points and too numb to hear at others. The self-doubt was the hardest battle being fought – in my head. My body was in a state of work that it was not happy with, but able to maintain, as long as my head stayed out of its way.

Turning onto Boylston was magic. The dip of the sewer at the turn I have learned about in the Duel in the Sun to the beautiful Blue and Yellow archway awaiting my arrival – simply amazing.

I finished and hobbled my immediately sore body through the shoots and towards baggage pick-up. I hopped a T back towards my family at Washington Square via Arlington Station. My time was barely a PR and several minutes off my goal, but I was legitimately happy with myself for the effort. Even more so than Chicago I believe I left it all out there.

The marathon is interesting. It is true what they say, this race humbles you. In a shorter event the failure to obtain a goal time results in a depressing analysis of what went wrong. In a marathon the only variable that can be controlled is your effort. Because of this, if you controlled that variable appropriately, there is no analysis to be done. For this day I controlled that variable to the best of my current abilities. There is room for improvement, but as I see it this day was an improvement on all days that came before it. There really isn’t much else you can expect.

And then the tragedy.  At about three o’clock my mother called from a nearby apartment, urging us to get off the street and hurry inside.  There was still celebration at mile 23 and leaving this party was not what I wanted to do, but her voice was serious and nervous when it rang, ‘Two bombs have gone off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon”.  It took the walk back for the news to settle as my initial response was purely to calm my nervous mother.

Everything that I wrote above now looks so selfish and meaningless, but I had to write it. If we weren’t faced with this tragedy that is what I would have written on the experience, so that is my experience as of 3:00PM Monday. By 5:00PM it was as if the racing never happened.

I sat and stared at the TV watching the replay of the bombs with my family and friends who had come to cheer.  Twenty-seven thousand runners had spent months – years – trying to reach this finish line.  Now they were running away.  It was a place that I had so recently experienced emotions of pure joy.  Now it was a place of fear.

I said a couple weeks ago that if everyone was training for an endurance event there would be world peace. I believe this to be true. The cowards that committed these acts were not runners. This is an absolute fact. It has to be. How we heal is by sharing our tool for peace with the world. It may not seem important, but it is.

With all the respect in the world for those tragically affected by Monday’s events, my eyes are set on Boston 2014. Respect the Boston Marathon.

It’s easy to feel guilty when it comes to talking about your race, but as Jason said it’s important that we do discuss this. His is a great example of an inspirational story to come out of it, and I’m sure that there are many more out there. We need to share the triumphs, while helping those affected by the tragedy. Once again, thanks to Scott Mason for use of his great work. Check out Scott Mason Photography for more shots from this race and many other events.

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WMDP – Run For Boston

Guest blog from the WMDP

Hey runners! And walkers. And friends. And family. Join us Sunday morning in Stanley Park, Westfield, MA at 10AM for a community fun run – Run For Boston.

In the wake of these events let’s do what we do best; run. We will be running/walking laps of the Stanley Park Athletic Fields to support those in the eastern part of the state during these tragic times. Donations are open and where they will be made is to be determined. This event will not be timed, so bring your own watch! Also we welcome snacks and water! We’re working on music. Parking available at the WSU commuter lot.

So come hang out! Run, walk, dance, sit, whatever you want! We hope to see you there! More details to come…

We’ll keep you posted with any updates we get. Feel free to pass along any suggestions for worthy charities or organizations.

Also, check out the latest from the BAA.

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Run (Fast) Westfield

The organizers of the Run Westfield 5k really knew what they were doing when they set this up and must have gotten exactly what they wanted. Set up a fast course, offer a lucrative prize structure and then watch the talented runners flock to you and lay down big PR’s.

Harvey, Chorney, Rupprecht & Murphy, bask in the glow of a fast race.

Harvey, Chorney, Rupprecht & Murphy, bask in the glow of a fast race.

Per the results posted on the web, there were just over 1,100 finishers, but a whopping twenty-one of those went under fifteen minutes!

Bob Rosen helped us fill in some of the gaps in coverage and provided ample notes to us from his vantage point on the lead vehicle. Bob is very close to Philemon Terer (5th) and Benard Langat (9th) and really knows his stuff.

About the course: it loses 90 ft from start to finish, but there’s actually a slight elevation gain of about  20 ft in the first mile. From that point on it’s basically flat with a slight downhill over the last mile.

As far as the race itself, it went out fast. Obviously. They went through the first mile in 4:18, but again that’s a slight uphill. Temps were mild with a slight tailwind (ideal conditions). Lead pack for the first mile: Simon Ndirangu (eventual winner) was right up front with Terer alongside, slightly behind. Alistair Cragg was a second behind (maybe), and then there was about a half dozen guys within two seconds of them.

Ndirangu asserted himself in the second mile and looked totally in control. Terer was with him, but they know each other from Kimbia. Knowing his opponent, and knowing that Terer isn’t a 5k guy must’ve given him more confidence. Cragg caught Terer just before mile two. Those two were back at it again only two weeks removed from their battle at the Holyoke St. Pat’s 10k, where Cragg took down Terer in the last mile. Ndirangu had 3 or 4 seconds on Cragg here. Two mile splits: Simon in the high 8:30’s, Cragg in 8:44ish, Terer in 8:46.

Over the last mile Ndirangu looked to be running away with it. Ndirangu kept kept his foot on the gas and put ten seconds on Cragg while Cragg opened up on Terer. Sang and Tefera overtook Terer in the last quarter mile, which is a huge loss for Terer. That drop in the results of only two spots cost him $1,500. Zach Hine had a huge PR and finished 6th, one spot out of the money.

For a little more about the course, we can find some good info from Rob Gomez’s race report:

I had scouted the course map a little before I arrived but during the warm up the potential for fast times really started to sink in. After cresting a small hill within the first quarter mile of the race, the course never went uphill again, instead dropping ever so gradually the first two miles and then more precipitously the last mile (although not so much as to cause a person to put on the brakes at any point). The one turn in the race comes in that same first quarter mile, and the wind (at least on this day) was fairly brisk and at our backs. Throw in perfect temps and a faster field than anything I’ve ever been a part of and… well, this happened:

Mile one: 4:33
Mile two: 4:34
Mile three: 4:43?, 29


That’s a PR of 44 seconds. In a 5k. It still doesn’t feel real.

That’s pretty crazy, but with a fast course and a tasty prize structure you’re bound to see things like that. Speaking of prizes, here’s how it broke down: $5k – 3k – 2k – 1k – 500 for both top five men and women. They also incredibly offered $500-400-300-200-100 to top five Westfield residents. When you see the WMDP boys celebrating in the video, you’ll know why. The three of them got a combine $1,200 for their troubles. That’s incredible.

Speaking of the WMDP boys, the Messer’s averaged 15:02. That’s unfair to say though, since then we’d be saying that Andrew Messer’s 15:20 was below average.

For the ladies, Kim Smith ran what appears to be the third fastest road 5k ever for a woman. We saw that and embedded in a good discussion here on Letsrun. Kim had an almost unbelievable 44 second cushion between her and her training partner Amy Hastings.

Shout out to the masters as well. Sheri Piers (of Dirigo RC & the top female American at Boston last year) and Kent Lemme (Greater Springfield Harriers) took home the titles there, running 16:29 and 15:13 respectively. Wow.

Here’s a look inside the numbers compared to other high level 5k’s around here:

4 guys broke 15:00 at Kerouac (14:46 won). This was held in September and was the USATF-NE 5k Championship.

29 broke fifteen at CVS (8 broke 14, winner was 13:52). Also held in September, this was the National Championship.

Here in Westfield, the top six broke 14, 21 total broke 15. Winner came in at 13:16, and the top six under Ben True’s winning time in September. Although

It might not have the challenges of a loop course, but it’s not without it’s merits. Without a doubt there’s going to be debate about the legitimacy of the course, but hopefully the course certification can put that to rest. It appears to be a legit length, and although it’s downhill, it’s not like running a down a ski slope. If this doesn’t excite you because it’s a downhill spectacle, maybe you just need to embrace it in the same way people embrace things like a home run derby. If anything it’s just fun to watch. Try telling anyone their Boston Marathon PR isn’t legit and see what they have to say about it. This race could very well be the next big thing around here. There’s not a lot of money in running so it’s good to see another race step up and offer some substantial prize money

Great course, excellent prize money, deep field. Can’t wait for 2014.

Johnson Out-Duels Pelletier

The New Bedford Half Marathon was a few days ago, so you probably are already well aware of the outcome by now (if not, it’s probably a good idea to read this earlier entry by Jim Dandeneau). Kevin Johnson of the Western Mass Distance Project (WMDP) outlasted Matt Pelletier on his way to a win and a new PR of 1:06:04.

After the race, the cool down and taking a moment with the fans (the phrase “a brush with greatness” was thrown out there, which would make for a good title of the video), Jim interviewed Kevin:

Although Matty P wasn’t on camera for an official interview, we did catch up with him later to get his take on the race:

426507_552719524748477_1738086516_nIt was disappointing not getting the win. I felt like I was in similar shape to last year, but I’ve been sick a lot this winter (something kind of serious) and missed more days of running than I’ve missed in a long time. That said, I bounced back pretty quickly I thought that maybe being sick hadn’t been as bad as I thought. I feel like the difference was in the wind. Our first mile was 10+ seconds slower than last year, and our 2nd mile was 14 seconds slower. I feel like the wind aided miles were about the same as last year. Aside from not getting the win, I’m disappointed I couldn’t match Kevin’s move when he passed me. I feel like I should have been able to go with him, but he was really strong and it just wasn’t my day. Kevin’s time was faster than my PR, so it would have taken a great day from me to beat him, and it wasn’t that kind of day. He looked really smooth. I think had I been able to push him for another 2-3 miles, he would have gone under 1:06.

Like I said, I think I was in similar shape compared to last year so I was hoping to go under 1:06:30 and just be a few sec. faster than last year. I don’t like to race in the cold, so when I got to the race and warmed up I knew it would be tougher than last year. I wasn’t really sure how the race would play out. With the WMDP kicking ass lately, and Brian Harvey moving up in distance, I wasn’t positive I would win. This was a stepping stone on the way to VCM, so a fast time, a win, or both were all goals. Obviously I walked away with neither, but it is what it is. I still have 10 weeks to prepare for 2:17 guy Chris Zablocki and some other fast guys. Hopefully this will serve as motivation for Memorial Day weekend.

To complete our coverage of the open men’s division, here’s an interview with Rob Gomez (Dirigo RC). Rob played a key role in the race by helping to break it open earlier on. He then slowly worked his way up the ranks and finished an impressive third.

In the men’s masters race, Chris Magill enjoyed his first road race as a master by cleaning up. Although he was the second master in the race, he was the first from the USATF-NE association so he still ended up being a masters champion for the day:

See the rest of our New Bedford coverage here. Want to see more race pictures like the ones included here? Be sure to visit Scott Mason Photography’s great website. Also, special thanks to our sponsors for providing prizes for some of the top runners: Skechers provided pairs of shoes, along with a couple hundred goodie bags for finishers, and Sigvaris provided custom fit compression socks. They support us, so please consider supporting them.

WMDP Club of the Year

Guest blog by an Anonymous Wolf

Stoneham, MA – The Western Mass Distance Project has been more than humbled by its wonderful reception to New England running this year. The Club started, originally, as a means for local Western Mass runners to rally their post-collegiate potential and keep this crazy dream we call running alive. It since has become something that has an impact at the regional and national level.

The Wolves would like to thank all of the members of the USATF-NE for voting the Western Mass Distance Project Co-Club of the Year for the 2012! You are all amazing competitors and fellow runners. We are inspired by this award to strengthen our efforts in 2013 to become a bigger, faster, and more diverse club in the upcoming season.

In running, the proof is in the results. A simple sport on paper; you’re 1st, 2nd, etc., etc., but this year has enlightened this Western Mass group as to the possibilities of this “simple” sport and where we can all take it; as a New England organization and beyond.

In college, we are spoiled by scheduled practices/schedules catering to our runs, and countless teammates to drag us through those days we would otherwise fold. Post-collegiately, this luxury is no longer available and a real passion for the sport must be cultivated. Even the most passionate of us can let our demons hold us inside on a cold morning or justify nipping off the last couple miles of a run after a long days work. It is in the running community that we must draw our inspiration for pushing the limits to their appropriate boundaries and leaving the light life for the ladies and gents back at the office.

This year our experimental club has taught all of us Wolves that the motivation to train does not need to come from physically being out on the roads with our teammates and our competitors, but simply knowing we’re all out there and we’re all accountable.

It would seem winning is the obvious goal, but I think what we have all learned is that the real goal is the Process.

Respect the Process.

Follow the exploits of this young wolfpack as they respect the process year round on the team website.

1st WMDP XC Festival a Success

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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