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Stone Cat Ale Trail Races
Ipswitch, MA, November 10, 2001
The Stone Cat Ale Trail Races were held on November 10 at Turner Hill between Topsfield and Ipswich, MA. Both a 50 mile and marathon were held. The races were held on a 12.5 mile loop, entirely on trails, within Willowdale State Forest. The trail had a few sections with a lot of roots and there were rocks throughout; however, the trail was fairly easy as compared to most Eastern trails. The biggest complaint about the course was that there were not enough large hills. Most runners, who were not ready to run the entire distance, felt bad about walking the small hills that they could normally have run. If you are looking for a fast trail 50 miler in order to qualify for Western States or some other race, the Stone Cat Ale 50 miler is a great choice.
I want to thank all of the volunteers from Gil's Athletic Club (GAC) who donated their time and resources to make this race a success. I especially want to thank Dave Mahan, who wore the Stone Cat suit and provided us with many things, including the fire pit so that the runners could sit around and enjoy the Ale and camaraderie after their runs were over. Another big thank you goes out to Rob Martin who provided us with plenty of Stone Cat Ale and his brand of old fashioned soda pop. And everybody thanks Peter Bonnecorsi for manning the grill all day long and cooking up those great burgers and dogs. We had some very experienced aid station workers at the Gravely Brook aid station and they were greatly appreciated. They offered lobster races, steamers, fried Spam and sardines, as well as regular aid station faire. The Pine Swamp aid station was Aimee Ahern's baptism of fire and, after taking a run to observe the Gravely Brook aid station, there will be a lot of aid station competition next year.
Of course, a race would not be the same without its runners and we had great runners to do justice in our first annual Stone Cat Ale Trail Races. Moe Pratt, a member of the host GAC, lead the 50 miler throughout. He was on a mission, after having suffered through injuries the last few years. He went through the course at fairly even splits, running 1:44, 1:46 and 1:48 for the first three loops. He had designs on breaking seven hours but slowed on his final loop to 1:55 finishing in a fine time of 7:12:20. His closest pursuer was John Carey finished in 7:40:48, winning the 40-49 age group. Jason Reed, 22, finished 3rd in 7:54:13. Zeke Zucker won the 50-59 division with an outstanding 8:00:05 finishing 4th overall. Art Gulliver, 62, won the 60-69 division.
In the women's 50 miler, Lisa Mentzer had a fine race, running splits of 2:05, 2:11, 2:15 and 2:14 for a fine 8:44:30. Barb Sorrell came over from New York to finish second, first 40-49, in 9:43:01. Denise Brandano came in third, and first GAC woman, in 11:08:52 in her first 50 miler. There were 42 signed up for the 50 miler, with 40 starters and 30 finishers.
The marathon saw young Eben Kellogg racing with the birthday boy, Jerry DeZutter. They kept together for the first two loops but the race over the tough finishing 1.2 miles saw Kellogg edging DeZutter 3:21:02 to 3:21:46. The finishing 1.2 miles of the marathon took runners straight down an old ski hill for .6 miles and then back up a hilly trail to the finish. We hoped to influence the marathoners to go for the 50 next year by making that finish as difficult as possible. Bill Salmon was the 1st 50-59 in 3:49:16. Bruce Campbell was 1st 40-49 in 3:59:58. Rich Busa, at 72, won that age group with an outstanding 5:22:38. Pete Stringer won the 60-69 group with 5:26:36.
The women marathoners also did well. Liz Keane and Julie Bergfeld raced through the first loop with Bergfeld leading Keane by two minutes. But Keane took charge on the second loop, winning in 3:59:30. Bergfeld came in second in 4:01:33. Third woman, and 1st in the 50-59 group, was Jane Kellogg in 4:46:36. Missy Heeb, who walked the entire race, was 1st 40-49 in 7:12:02. There were 38 signed up for the marathon, with 35 starters and 33 finishers. There were also six 50 mile runners who chose to stop at the marathon, though they were not eligible for any marathon awards.
The race went very well despite a local trail terrorist who not only insisted upon removing our ribbons but also went so far as to scratch out the markings on the ground. We will declare open season on this person next year. Despite his best efforts, no runners went off course for more than a few seconds. We had very good comments about the course and it will be pretty much the same next year. We also will make provisions next year for those who wish to change from one race to the other; however, if they do so after starting the race, they will not figure into any awards.
The GAC wants to thank the following sponsors for their invaluable support of our race: Mercury Brewing; UniFirst Corporation; Franson Family Chiropractic; The Mansion at Turner Hill; Saucony and, especially, Pete Carlson who is in charge of Willowdale State Forest and Bradley Palmer State Park and who was instrumental in allowing us to use the forest for our race. Thanks to these sponsors, we were able to provide our runners with a top quality race in a laid back environment. If you are looking for a fast 50 miler or an introduction to trail racing, keep this race in mind for next year. Thanks again to all the runners, volunteers and the sponsors. The first annual Stone Cat Ale Trail Races were a complete success.