Ah, the increasingly rare joy of a short drive to a road race. That's what I experienced this morning in getting out to the Epsom Old Home Day 4-miler, which took place about a half-hour drive from my home in Bedford, N.H. (And that included a stop for gas!) Really - with very few remaining towns that are that close to home base, I've resigned myself to a lot of windshield time to continue this quest. So when you get one that's this close in, it's a special gift. And the weather was nice, too: building overcast without a lot of sun to heat things up.
Webster Park is a big town recreation area right on Route 28. I've driven by it probably a hundred times and never noticed it, but it's on a grand scale, with fields and roads and granite benches here and there. It's also the site of the town's annual Old Home Day festivities, which was what prompted the road race, which was a benefit for the park.
It was a classic N.H. race in two respects: the familiar voice of Andy Schachat was on the P.A. system calling it, and Delta Dental CEO Tom Raffio was running. The course was a straight-forward out-and-back, with Epsom Central School the turn-around point, though Schachat made sure everyone knew to turn left at the army tank (really!) to enter the park on the way back. (The retired tank, a full-size real life one, is on display outside the American Legion Ellwood O. Wells Post No. 112.)
In case you're interested, here's a picture of the tank, which to me looks like an M60 A3, which the U.S. phased out in 1997, I'm told. But oops, several people apparently overshot the tank on the way back, adding maybe an extra third of a mile to their run. I can how that happened, as the only turn indication was a white arrow chalked onto the road, and it was easy to miss with that big tank right in front of you. Well, these things happen. Next time I'd get a volunteer to main this spot.
The course was a nice one, with rolling hills and some sections along actual working cornfields, where the stalks are at their full height this time of year. I'm sure we crossed the grade of the long-abandoned Suncook Valley Railroad, but I couldn't tell exactly where.
Finished in 38:58, for a pace of 9:44, not bad and a nice recovery from yesterday's slow run in Richmond, N.H. Finished 37 out of 56. Entry fee, another reasonable $15. And I won the very last raffle prize: a visor made in China! And that's the story of Town #126. Only...er, 108 to go!