The Great Stew Chase 2019 15K was run on January 27th in Lynn, MA. 2019 marks the 45th running of this classic race.
Billed as the 3rd oldest 15K in America, the race has seen better years.
In 2017 there were 262 finishers, 2018 there were 198 finishers. For 2019 there were 172 finishers.
This race has traditionally been a running club oriented race. There are usually about six local clubs who make up the bulk of the runners. This year I would say that 90% of the runners were with a local club.
To keep the tradition alive it is important for the local running clubs to encourage their members to participate. The race director mentioned the declining numbers and the need to increase them to keep the race viable.
Great Stew Chase 2019
This year The Melrose Running Club had 22 runners, which is down from 29 runners in 2017, but about the same as last year. This late in January you never know what conditions you may end up running in. In 2015 the race was postponed to March due to snow.
We had some new faces this year, which is always great to see. Dave Bryson and Marty Hergert are two of our newer members who decided to brave the cold for a January 15K!
I ran with Durm Cahill like I did last year. In 2018 I had knee problems and took it pretty slow. Durm stayed with me even though I’m sure he could have run much faster.
This year I had been feeling pretty good until about a week ago. My right foot has been bothering me. I think it’s a combination of too much treadmill running and wearing old shoes. I’ll be making some changes.
The first two miles we ran too fast, 8:06 and 7:53. My goal was 9 minute miles so I tried to slow us down. Shortly after mile two Durm had to stop running due to a calf cramp. I asked if he was okay and and he told me to go on and he would catch up.
Running The Great Stew Chase 15K
Running on my own didn’t make pacing any easier. Each time someone passed me I had to resist the urge to speed up. I kept telling myself that a 9 minute pace would give me a PR. All I wanted was to finish with a PR. They are rare these days and I didn’t have a single PR in 2018.
The course is mostly rolling hills. Nothing too aggressive. Then at Mile four we approach the I-95 overpass. For mile four we gained 42 feet in elevation and my mile came in at 8:20. Not bad.
Mile five goes over the I-95 bridge and ends after our hill climb up to our turn around point. After the turn the hills are pretty much over. Mile five came in at 8:47. My slowest mile but also the hilliest mile.
I slowed down to get a cup of water off of the table and handed my cup to a volunteer. As I ran back out to the main road I saw several MRC runners. A few people called out my name but my glasses were so dark I couldn’t tell who they were!
Back on the main road we ran mostly downhill until we reached the I-95 overpass. Going up this hill was a bit more challenging now that my legs were tired.
We were now more than half way. Mile six chimed in at almost the exact spot where we hit mile 4. Mile six had 60 feet of decline and Garmin didn’t register any elevation gain. But I know we ran up some hills!
My watch was hitting the miles before the mile markers. Just after the mile six sign, I glanced at my watch and saw that we were at the 10K mark. I was running at an average pace of about 8:20.
We had 5K to go and I hoped I could keep my 10K pace going to the end.
Finishing The Chase
At this point in the race my legs were tired and my right foot hurt. I contemplated walking and tried to calculate my finish time based on my time so far and how fast I thought I could walk. Neither the math nor my guess were very good. I decided to keep running.
The only thing that hurt was my foot. I’ve run in much more pain and with much less juice left. Why would I give up?
Most people who run this race are competitive. The race seems to draw the die-hard runners. At this point in the race we were very well sorted. No one was passing anyone.
Mile seven had us running back through Centennial Park. I used to work in this area and there isn’t much to see. Mile seven chimed in at 8:32. Only two and a half miles or so to go.
How many miles is 15K? It turns out it’s 9.3 miles. But I was hitting the miles before the markers and I wasn’t sure if it was 9.3 or 9.5. But I was pretty sure I was going to run long.
Mile eight chimed in at 8:41 with only 26 feet of elevation gain. I was fading.
I decided to push as hard as I could for the last mile or so. I knew that I was close to a PR and didn’t want to miss it by 15 seconds. I didn’t want to miss it period.
That last 1.3 miles winds back through the neighborhood off of Rt. 129. There were some hills, pot holes and sloped road. If I ran at a bad angle it put too much pressure on my right foot. At this point in the race it was really sore.
I managed to avoid branches and pot holes and kept on pushing.
When we got out onto Rt. 129 I knew we were close and didn’t want anyone to pass me in the last few hundred yards.
I pushed through and mile nine came in at 8:40. My last 0.53 mile came in at an 8:01 pace. As I approached the finish area I saw John Mulroy and Katherine Kulig walking off their race.
Approaching the finish I saw the clock was close to 1:19. I didn’t have anything to kick in so I just tried to maintain my pace.
My finish time was 1:19:37 for an 8:33 pace. I was 90th overall and 12 out of 16 in my age group. It’s a tough crowd!
Garmin had my distance at 9.53 miles and a pace of 8:22.
Mary O’Connell and I scored course PRs for the day. This was Mary’s second PR for 2019 and it’s only January! Lot’s of other MRC runners achieved a course PR but I think it was because it was their first time running the race. I’ll update this if I hear differently.
Due to the smaller crowd, there was plenty of room. The MRC was seated at two table on either side of the hall. Going over to say hi was a good excuse to mingle a bit.
I thought the soup was pretty good and enjoyed the roll and cookie. I could have eaten several of those cookies!
When the awards came around, The MRC did pretty well.
Katherine Kulig came in 3rd in her age group. She had a baby last year and this was her longest run in a year.
Michael Sikkema came in second in his age group and Audie Bridges placed third in his. They received a Great Stew Chase blanket. Definitely preferable to a trophy! Audie had already left and I’m not sure if they will mail the blanket to him.
As soon as the awards were over we all headed for home and hot showers.
Run well my Friends,