Monday, June 16, 2014

Clydesdales Clydesdales and not Category to Run: Ribfest 5 Miler (6/15/14)

Race: Ribfest 5 Miler
Location: Merrimack, NH
Goal Time: 32:30
Actual Time: 33:26

The famous Budweiser Clydesdales are generally housed in two locations: St. Louis and Merrimack, NH. This year's New England 5 Mile Championship - Ribfest 5 Miler - was held on the grounds of the Merrimack Anheuser-Busch Brewery and home of the Clydesdales.  So in the shadow of the giant horses teams from all over New England came to run for, money, bragging rights, beer and ribs.

The start was right next to the Clydesdale stables.  I started near Tim and Bradley (who both were celebrating their first Father's Days).  There was a large crowd for the race - 2500.  Included in the crowd was a 9 or 10 year old who had wormed his way up toward the front and was standing right in front of us. On the gun we started down the road and toward the big hill out of the brewery.  About 20 yards into the race, the 9 year old fell down!  Tim was luckily agile enough to stop without trampling him.   Here's a rule to parents - don't let your 9 year old line up at the front of a fast race...

For the first mile I stayed in check, following my mantra of stay behind Tim and Bradley.  There were a couple of moments where the wind on Daniel Webster Highway were pretty bad and the devil would get into me.  I jumped out in front of Bradley and Tim to break the wind as best I could.  At the mile and a half mark we were done with the climb out.  I looked at my watch so that I would know where on the way back it would be a gentle downhill with the wind at my back.

And... They're off
Photo by Tom Cole

Clydesdales were first bred as draught horses in Scotland (near the River Clyde).  Local Bay mares and black Flemish Stallions were originally bred.  Eventually by 1837, there was a known and named breed of horse coming from that region.  In 1879 an American Clydesdale Association had been founded.  It promoted the breed in the US and Canada.  The ACA produced it's first stud book in 1882.  (Steve, Marc, Seth, Aaron and I will be in the forth coming stud book).

Well away from the brewery and said Clydesdales, Tim, Bradley and I were lurching through the crowds and the wind.  The course takes you down Daniel Webster and then off the course into a nice residential neighborhood at the two mile mark.  Hanging with Bradley for mile two had basically worn me down.  It was like I was a Whig Presidential campaign against Jacksonian democrats - just a steamless locomotive slowing down.  Mile 3 in the shade allowed me to re-catch my breath and halt the decline and maybe move forward back into a good race.

By 1933 the movement for Prohibition had halted and declined.  One of FDR's first actions was to repeal the Volstead Act.  In celebration, August Anheuser Busch, Jr. presented his father with a team of 8 Clydesdales. Since then they are a symbol of Budweiser and the most famous Clydesdales in the world.

Pickle coming into the finish - after a Soccer tourney in North Texas and a red eye outta DFW and a drive from Logan
Photo by Tom Cole

50 years later, Dave McGillivray was the Race Director of a triathlon.  Working with a couple of Bud Light reps, he sponsored a new weight based category.  200 pound guys just can't run with 145 pound runners.  The Bud Light reps gave him a couple stuffed clydesdales as awards, and the rest is history.  The generally 200 lb + weight division in endurance races became known as Clydesdale.  I often compete in this division and if the race is longer than 12K or so do well in it.

Unfortunately for me, a 5 miler is shorter than 12K.  We came back onto Daniel Webster Highway at the 3 mile mark  The decline had ended but the speed hadn't picked back up.  I passed Tim who was now walking up the hill.  I figured if I just got myself up the hill and over the hump at 3.5, I'd be able to coast downhill and down wind and carry my Clydesdale frame into a reasonable if not "good" time.

Joe and Simon (Joe attempting his Fernando Rodney impression)
Photo by Tom Cole
The Ribfest 5 miler didn't have a Clydesdale division.  This is one of my only two complaints about the whole race.  The first being that they ran out of cups at the water stop by the time Urvi came through - nowhere near the back of the race.  It was a hot day.  But, it seems that a race AT the AB Brewery where upon completion you go drink beer and eat BBQ, could stand to have a clydesdale division.  (Maybe they can find some of McGillivray's stuffed Clydesdales laying around as trophies.)

I doubt I would have won the Clydedales... As we crested that hill I had no extra gear to throw myself into. Any hope of a fast last mile were dashed.  I was now just hanging on hoping not to embarrass myself.  (This is a strong drive of mine now on bad days, especially ones where I've passed people early; I usually want to minimize the number of people who say: "You were running too fast, too early.")  Mike Quinn came by me - to my relief, that meant there was a master who still had speed for SRR to complete the bottom of the table. Then Tim passed me for a third time on the day.  (In mile 3 I had slowed and twice I passed him while he walked).  I managed a 33:26, which was definitely not by best.  However, it did beat last year's USATF 5 miler - Carver Cranberry; so I got that going for me.

But, winners, losers; whiners and diners; all got to finish the race by going into the actual Ribfest.  Beer and BBQ is a great way to finish a race.

Carrie Anne leads in Kate and Emerson
Photo by Tom Coles
SRR Shoutouts
Cipriano won his age group
Karen E., Pickle and J Rap all took 2nd in their age groups
Wolfgang took 3rd in his

Men's Open -11th
Women's Open - 4th
Men's Masters -3rd
Women's Masters -2nd!
Men's Seniors - 3rd
Women's Seniors 4th

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