Former 2:24 marathoner, now in my late 40s and hoping to maximally flatten the curve of my slide into senescence and mediocrity • Magazine writer, book editor and author, and commentator on the sport of distance running since 1999 • Adviser and confidant of other perambulators • Paradoxical hater of exercise fanatics • Chihuahua whisperer Sentence-fragment impresario

Saturday, September 2, 2017

5K double track and wood chip trails with hills

That is the description offered of the course used in the "Gilford at Gunstock" Early Bird Invitational, which was held Thursday at a ski area in New Hampshire about 30 miles north of where I grew up. This meet was instituted in 2011, making this year's event the seventh.

Based on the results, both this year's and the previous six, I think that description is not as florid as it could be.

The winning time in last week's boys' race was 17:43.1, by Tyler McLaughlin of Moultonboro. McLaughlin won by 30 seconds, bettering his own 2016 winning time by 13 seconds. Here's a breakdown of the finishers:

Total: 233
Sub-18:00: 1
Sub-19:00: 10
Sub-20:00: 23
Median: 23:36

There were 21 scoring teams and 23 teams represented overall.

Compare this to the results of the 2016 girls' N.H. Meet of Champions, held at Mine Falls Park in Nashua:

Total: 154
Sub-18:00: 5
Sub-19:00: 25
Sub-20:00: 59
Median: 20:44

Now the disclaimers. Mine Falls Park hosts a very fast course, the Meet of Champions is toward the end of the season, and state championship fields have a habit of being loaded with championship-caliber runners (someone should look into this). And the Gilford meet doesn't feature any Division I schools -- in fact, 18 of the 21 scoring teams were from D-III. Still, results like these invite a cursory survey of the historical results as well as an examination of how some of the fastest boys there have performed at other venues.
  • In 2011, Jonathan Vinnenburg of Bow won the inaugural race by 25 seconds in 17:49. He would place 22nd at the MoC two-plus months later in 16:21.
  • In 2012, Andrew Weckstein of Bow, the previous year's runner-up, set a new record with a 17:41.9, winning by 37 seconds. He would place third at the MoC in 15:54.4.
  • In 2013, Drew Tuttle of Prospect Mountain, second the previous year, won by two seconds in 17:52. He placed 17th in 16:33 in Nashua.
  • In 2014, Cameron Daly of Inter-Lakes led four runners under the CR with a 17:24.7, beating fellow junior Dom Repucci of Hopkinton by almost five seconds. That pair went 2-3 at the MoC in 15:39.3 and 15:47.7 (Eli Moskowitz of Souhegan, who would go on to beat the state 3,200-meter record into a coma the following spring with an 8:44.79, won in 15:32.4.)
  • In 2015, Daly, not unexpectedly, successfully defended his title, setting another CR with a 17:06.9 and winning by over 26 seconds. (Repucci was not in the race.) Daly won the MoC comfortably in 15:25.9, with Repucci (16:01.5) in 11th. Daly has since impressed at Brown University in cross-country (22nd at the Ivy League Champs as a freshman last fall) and on the track (8:13.68 indoors for 3,000 meters).
For his part, McLaughlin ran 4:29 for 1,600 meters and 9:58 for 3,200 meters last spring.

In all likelihood, the course at Gunstock Mountain is close to a minute slower than Derryfield Park in Manchester, where the divisional state meets are held one week before the MoC. In 2015, Daly ran 15:52 at the Manchester Invitational four weeks after his 17:06 at Gunstock, winning by 11 seconds, and ran 15:52 again at the D-III State Meet five weeks after that to beat Repucci by 13 seconds.

In other words, at the Early Bird, pretty much everyone gets to catch and eat the worm.



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