I've always felt fortunate that I know a lot of runners from
Chelmsford. As a Billerican, I've
overcome the indoctrination that all things Chelmsfordian are bad. While in high school (1978-1982) I competed
against and hung out with many of the rivals from Chelmsford. We competed fiercely and enjoyed each
other's company immensely.
Keith O'Brien did me the great honor of inviting me to join
in the fun at the 9th annual Chelmsford Alumni race. I spread the word to my fellow runners at Billerica. Unfortunately I was the only one who dared
to tread the soil of the X-C course.
The last time I had raced against Chelmsford was 1982 and it was a tough
loss (27-28) that we still talk about today.
I was hoping we wouldn't get shut-out (15-50), but I'd only been running
for a week after sitting for a month with a stress fracture.
Conditions at Chelmsford High were not ideal. The sunny skies were the only good weather
conditions. The snow was about 4"
deep in spots, other areas had been packed down a bit and they were now
icy. The wind was gusting making the
temperatures in the low 30's seem quite a bit worse. A few hardy souls headed out for a warm-up. I got in my car and cranked the heat.
A fairly large group walked to the start and the obligatory
"team" photo. There were some
jokes about alternating Billerica/Chelmsford runners on the line. Then we were off. About a dozen runners formed the lead pack with no one seeming
interested in taking the lead. Eric
Beauchesne, who has won this race numerous times, was finally making his way
back from injury and said he was going to "jog the course". Tom Doody, who won a 5K race in the snow in
Lowell the day before, was content to chat and hang out near the front. Perhaps the lousy footing and good company
(and protection from the wind) kept the top 10 together for the first half of
the race. It may also have been that
the snow covered course had been "marked with chalk", making it
difficult for those not in the know to figure out where they were running.
Just after O'B. announced that we had completed half of the
race, the pack began to shake loose.
Beauchesne, Festus M., and Doody, quickly gapped the following pack as
they strung out crossing the baseball field.
I ran with O'B. and tried to reel in Scott Graham. Scott has only beaten me once (Lowell
marathon) and I wasn't going to easily give him another victory. As O'B. pulled away I passed Scott, then
realized that if O'B. beat me we (Billerica) would have no finishers in the top
seven. X-C scoring in dual meets (I'm
not sure if this really qualified as a dual meet, but I'll take whatever I can
get at this point) only allows seven runners from any team to score and
displace. Therefore if one team takes
the top seven they score a perfect 15 (1+2+3+4+5) to 50 (8+9+10+11+12). I was hoping to sneak into seventh, and
caught O'B. with about 1/2 mile to go.
The coach that he is (Tyngsboro HS), he gave me a "Good job"
as I pulled slightly ahead. I think he
may have given me the 7th place, but hey his team did win 15-49 so no
Post-race we gathered around for Gatorade and bagels. The prizes for top finishers included a
coffee maker, breakfast cereal, toilet paper, toothpaste, mouthwash, and
soap. All in all, a fun time was
had. X-C is a great team experience for
runners, which is a nice change in what is typically an individual sport. I look forward to at least doubling the
number of Billerica runners next year!