Great Stew Chase 2017
The Great Stew Chase was the first race in the Melrose Running Club’s “MRC Race Series.” This is also the first time we’ve had a race series.
I counted 29 members at one point. Including members running under different colors, we had 36 runners. We managed to get 25 members in the group photo, including Rick Collette!
As many of you know, Rick had a heart attack this summer. His doctors have given him the green lite to run again and it was great to be out on the course with him.
Several MRC members are also Mystics, including Rick. Even though they were not in our photos we got to run and hang out with them.
The total number of runners was 263. Last year we had 2 runners, this year we had at least 21! Some people registered under both clubs, so the total depends how you count.
Running The Great Stew Chase 2017
Because this was a club event I wore my MRC singlet over an Under Armour shirt.
As we walked over to The Briar Lodge where the start was, it became obvious that I was under dressed. Any breeze went right through my two layers.
I was walking with Rowena Hakkaoui and mentioned that I felt under dressed. She was carrying an extra Under Armour shirt and offered to let me wear it. It was a little snug as I pulled it over my other shirt. Thank you so much Ro!
I lined up near the back of the pack with a few other MRC runners. We started on a bit of an uphill, wound through the neighborhood and went quickly onto Lynnfield Street.
The road wasn’t closed but drivers were good about not crowding us, and runners were pretty good about not blocking traffic. Soon we took a right onto Den Quarry Road.
This road had a bit less traffic, but was still open to traffic.I was told the course was mostly uphill on the way out and down hill on the way back. Yeah right!
The course is actually full of rolling hills; one after the other. Early in the race I reminded my self that this was not a 5K and not even a 10K.
Any energy wasted early would be sorely missed in the last 5K of this 15K race. Since it wasn’t a half marathon, I didn’t bring any supplies. I had fueled and hydrated before the race, but if I got into trouble, there wasn’t much I could do.
My goal was 9 minute miles. My first mile was 9:01 and the next three were around 8:33. It was nice to have some time in the bank, but I also knew it could come back and bite me.
I think I ran part of the race with just about everyone, except our top runners. Eventually I caught up to our club president, Don Keren. For a few miles I could see him ahead of me but I just couldn’t catch up. Finally I caught up with him and we ran most of the rest of the race together.
On several of the hills I told him to go ahead. I’m not in shape for any race and certainly not a 15K with lots of hills. We pulled and pushed each other along and managed not to walk.
We crossed over Rt. 95 just before where Rt. 95 and Rt. 128 split apart. As we came over the bridge I could see the hill we had to run down on the other side.
Normally a runner might like a down hill. But this was an out and back course. All I could think about as I ran down the hill was that I’d have to run back up it!
The Turn Around
Just after mile 5 we hit the turn around and water stop. We were fortunate that they were handing out 500ml bottles of water. I missed the first water stop because it was on the wrong side of the road!
Don was right behind me and we made the loop and headed back! We were more than half way and it felt like it.
I no longer felt like I was in control of my pace. My body was. My knees were hurting and my lungs were not up to par. I haven’t been training much and I’ve had a chest cold for about 10 days.
After the water stop, the next three-quarters of a mile were mostly down hill. Then we got to the big hill next to the highway and it sucked! Don and I dug deep but a few runners passed us. My old buddy Jeff Rushton and his friend passed us and stayed ahead of us for the rest of the race.
After the Rt. 95 bridge we had mostly rolling hills. On the way back we skipped the loop through Centennial Park and got to miss those hills. Miles 5 and 6 were 9:25 each. We were slowing down and our average pace was now 9:32.
To hit my goal of a 9 minute pace, we were going to have to step things up. Around mile 6.5 we went back onto Lynnfield Street. The road was fairly flat and we hit mile 7 at 9:08. Better but our pace was still 9:13.
Early in the race I noticed that my watche chimed before the mile markers. As the miles went on my watch was chiming earlier with each mile. By mile 7 I was at 7.25 miles. I was a little worried about having to run a long 15K. I mean, isn’t 15K enough?
At mile 7 it was nice knowing we were somewhere around 2.5 miles from the finish. I just wasn’t sure if the gap would keep growing. Our mile 7 pace was 9:08.
When we got to the turn from Lynnfield Street onto York Road there wasn’t anyone to direct us. There were about five of us and we all guessed left, which turned out to be correct!
York Road turned into Cedar Brook Road and we hit mile 8 at 9:13 and our pace was now 9:18.
Don and I were both pretty spent. Then around 8.75 miles we hit some hills that really took a toll on us. Mile 9 came in at 9:22 and my watch was off by almost a half mile now.
As we approached the mile 9 sign I estimated we had about 1K to go. But who knew? Just after Mile 9 we got back onto Lynnfield Street.
To The Finish
After 9 miles I didn’t have a lot of kick left in me. When our team mate Jose Viveiros passed us, I decided to try and keep up with him.
It’s an unspoken rule in running that you are not obligated to stay with who ever you are running with. So without a word I kicked it and tried to keep up with Jose. Soon Peter Fopiano passed me also.
Peter is a strong runner and I figured more strong runners would start passing as they kicked to the finish.
I managed to keep a good pace to the finish and was so happy to see those timing mats! The clock said 1:26, but I had no idea what that meant in terms of my official finish and pace.
A 15K should be 9.3 miles, but we ended up running 9.56 miles, which is less than I feared. My last 0.56 miles had a pace of 7:42.
I was totally spent. Don finished about 40 seconds after I did. We did a quick fist bump and then I started looking for water. There wasn’t any out side. I saw Greg Berger and we talked for a minute and watched his wife Cynthia come in and cross the finish line.
It was now time to head up the stairs of the Knight of Columbus Hall and look for sustenance. They had orange slices and of course, hot soup.
Instead of beef stew they went with chicken soup. It was still hot and tasted great. We also got great rolls and a cookie. I had to look for water and ended up with a small Styrofoam cup. After three of those I felt better!
Apre Race and Awards
Melrose filled two tables and then some. We had a great spot up front to see the awards.
Last year we had two runners and this year we took home more awards than that!
The awards were five deep in each age group, and five deep for the winners.
Mike Sikkema came in first in his age group with a time of 58:07 and a pace of 6:15! He was the first MRC runner to cross the Great Stew Chase finish line in 18th place.
Chris Hancock was the second MRC runner to finish with a 28th place finish.
Katherine Kulig was the first MRC women to cross the finish with a 56th place finish. I spoke with her afterwards and she was a little disappointed but knew why and what she had to do.
Judy Dolan and Audie Bridges came in 2nd in their age groups
Linda Ford came in 4th in her age group, but left the Knights of Columbus hall before they started presenting awards.
Rowena Hakkaoui won 5th place in her age group and was extremely excited about it!
It was difficult to chose the photo that best reflected her excitement. The one I picked is a little blurry, but you can see the joy on her face.
Full Great Stew Chase 15K results on Cool Running