Tumbled out of bed early on Saturday, May 21 and hauled myself two hours north to run in the John Nute Memorial 4-miler in Madison, N.H., a small community near the Maine border. Race held at Purity Spring Resort, a lakeside campground and recreation compound (also the King Pines Ski Area in winter) that's been in the same family for more than a century.
Not a big race, really a warm-up for a duathalon and triathalon the next day. Still, about 50 of us gathered for the start on a lakeside beach, including several dogs. It being one of the increasingly rare dog-friendly races, I used the chance to harness up Inca (our adopted mutt, Dog No. 3, one year old and with me for the ride) and bring her along.
Registration was only $15, the least expensive I've seen in a long time. Bravo to organizers for keeping the costs reasonable for us serial road racers.
One notable thing about this one was the bugs. This year has been the worst I can remember for bugs. They're out early, and everywhere--mosquitoes, gnats, you name it. My theory is that it's a fungus that's hitting the local bat population pretty hard. Each bat eats something like two pounds of bugs in a season, so with bats out of commission, the bugs are going nuts.
The race started on a beach, which was nice, but bugs were bad. As we stood there waiting for the start, everyone was swatting insects. If you didn't know any better, you'd think we were all very friendly people to wave at each other so energetically.
So it probably wasn't the best time for someone to sing The National Anthem, but that's exactly what happened. "Please take off your hats," someone said, and then we got the Star Spangled Banner, and of course it had to be the extended play version, with a talented young singer really holding onto those vowels.
The race was a four-mile loop around Purity Lake, much of it on an unpaved road along the eastern side of the pond. Inca did very well for her first race, despite being somewhat alarmed by the airhorn used at the start.
We've been stuck in a changeable but damp weather pattern, and those conditions prevailed on Saturday. Gray skies and patches of sunlight to start, but then windblown showers just after I finished. (Here's a photo of some people behind me who were caught in the downpour.) My time was 42:12, or pace of 10:34, which is pretty rotten but then again I haven't been training in any systematic way lately. Not sure how I ranked because info hadn't been posted.
As for the quest to run a 5K race (or longer) in all of New Hampshire's 234 cities, towns, and unincorporated places, this one presented a conundrum. I did it because I needed Madison. But almost during the first mile, we passed on of those "town line" signs that said Eaton. Eaton? Well, which town was it in? A check of the map later showed the four-mile course to be divided almost exactly in half between the two towns. What to do?
Usually, my methodology for a multi-town 5K is to count only the town where the race starts. In this case, because the course was slightly longer than a 5K, and because it was pretty much half in one and half in the other, I opted to give myself a break and count both towns. So that's #116 and #117.