Chilly high 30s with a pesky 10-12 mph north wind made for some more difficult than usual conditions on this loopy/turny point-to-point course. The field keeps getting stronger for the Chena River Run, and there were a lot of good university and ex-college runners lining up. For some reason I lined up on the first row. Delusions of grandeur, I was shooting for top 10. Just a few years ago I was 4th here, but not close to top 10 this time.
photo by Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Not only did the top row take it out fast I was immediately swallowed up by most of the first and second rows. As predicted I was no better than 40th place at half mile. However, I made a big move at 3/4 mile was into top 15 or so by half way. Then I had a good 3 way battle with 2:41 masters marathoner Mark Lindberg (thinking about the times we raced against each other back in Ithaca, NY 20+ years ago) and UAF xc ski sprint specialist Erik Soederstrom (who's made some inroads at longer ski races this year). I tried to shake them over the Chena River bridge, but then we ran into a headwind over the stretch, with about a half mile to go, so I tucked in behind. Waiting to kick, as if a 53 yr old has a kick. I tried, and threw in a final surge just before 3 miles but Soederstrom caught me with 100 to go.
Mile splits were 5:40, 11:24, 17:10, and 33 (5:08 pace for the "kick"). 17:43 16th place, my lowest placing here, but this was the deepest field. Time wise, right in the middle of where I've been at past race efforts, about 20-25 sec faster than my slowest (last year, coming of knee surgery) and about the same amount slower than my fastest (2008 I think).