We slowly caught more runners including Nathan Alsobrook. Then around mile four we started catching some Bates runners. About mile 5 Nathan decided to put the hammer down and passed me like I was standing still. I picked up the pace and kept him in sight until we got to the long uphill climb at mile 6. I closed the gap a little on this climb but he opened it back on the downhill single track.
I started to get the pre-sidestitch feeling very early - maybe mile 4, and concentrating on breathing helped to keep a side stitch at bay. But when we came out of the single track at the last aid station two things contributed to a full blown stitch: 1) I called out gatorade and 2) I tried to drink the gatorade on the steep little downhill after the station. All this created a series of short, rapid, shallow breaths and bam! I had my stitch. Bad location because I thought my only chance of beating Nathan was catching him on the climb to the start of the O trail. I did a pretty good job and closed to within maybe 10-15 s. I had also put a gap on the runners behind me.
In the O trail I really focussed on breathing. I probably slowed a little too because I noticed by about 1/2 way through that the train of runners had closed on me and Nathan was now far ahead. The focused breathing allowed me to run without intense pain but it was hard to focus on the terrain at all. Plus the terrain just wreaked havoc on my breathing. I saw Floyd Lavery and Andy Kiburis and Don Medd behind me but it was impossible to tell how far back they were (close enough!). I was catching up to and ultimately passed a broken Mike Dowling but with what I thought was about 3/4 mile of O to go, I let Greg Goodhue pass me but I stayed on his tail. Very soon and quite unexpectedly we ran into Knight Woods trail (not running the O at all I didn't have any markers to know when to GO) and I threw everything I had at Greg and passed him. According to my watch the runout is only .15 mi (it sure seemed longer than that). Greg tucked in behind me until maybe 50m to go then passed me back. I crossed a fraction of a second behind him. I assumed that meant Greg took the AG prize but in fact, some guy from Camp Hill PA (is there still a Book-of-the-month club?) smoked us both by 5+ minutes.
This race really is an awesomely fun trail race. The tortuosity of the mtn. bike trails is really like nothing I've seen in other trail races.
Average pace: 8:06 (about 27% slower than my road 20K/half-marathon pace)
Pre-O trail pace: 7:46 (about 22% slower)
O trail pace (not including last 1/2 mile): 9:30 (about 50% slower!!!)
These paces assume of course the distance is 11.5 miles, which is certainly an underestimate...
Note on distance: The distance estimated by the Garmin (11.49) 305 is short by at least 1/2 mile if not a full mile. I once walked the Bradbury 12 mtb. race course (basically the bruiser course minus the O trail) and I got 9 on my Garmin while he got 10 on his bike wheel.
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