This morning was the Bradbury Scuffle, the first of 3 trail races at Bradbury Mountain State Park this Summer. The conditions were absolutely beautiful, and by beautiful I mean that it was raining at the start and it was pouring by the finish, creating puddles and mud galore throughout the course. Most of the regulars that were there were happy about this because it not only ensured a fun race but also meant that the mosquitoes and ticks were not much in evidence during or after the race.

Bradbury Scuffle Course MapThe course was well marked, so much so that the “Most Lost” prize was unrewarded at the end of the race. There was only one place that could have been at all confusing, and since you just went straight through there and ignored the crossing trail it wasn’t too confusing. One trail marker had fallen down since Friday night, but I stopped and laid it in the direction you were supposed to run on the way out and Ian (the race director) actually placed it back in the ground for those behind him and for the return trip in the other direction.

Meneah Haworth finishing the Bradbury ScuffleAs soon as the starting bell went off, I made for the front of the pack. Within about 10 or 15 feet I was in the lead, which meant that I could run at whatever speed I wanted without having to worry about somebody blocking my view of the trail. Today was the fastest that I’ve ever run through the woods on single track, and was a much different experience than the 50k that I ran last year. I could feel yesterday’s 5k race within about 400 meters of starting, but I got a second wind relatively quickly and I don’t think that it impacted my race too much. My lack of a decent warmup probably had more to do with it.

Throughout the entire race, Patrick Cote was right behind me. Any opportunity that I had to pick up the pace or get out of sight, I tried to extend my lead on him. Within a few minutes, though, he was always close enough for me to hear him, and he pushed me hard throughout the entire race. The only other people I saw on the course was at the aid station and the few places where the course came close enough to previous trails that I could see folks through the woods.

I managed to navigate the course without taking a fall, and only rolled my ankle once about halfway through. My wife wasn’t so lucky. As she put it, she rolled her ankle and then rolled the rest of her. She didn’t win the “Best Bruise” prize, though, because she didn’t realize that she was bloody until we got home and she washed off the mud.

Coming up on the aid station, Patrick passed by me and then slowed down to get some water. He passed me again in short order, and led the way down a good portion of the snowmobile trail on the way back to the Knight’s Wood trails. It was here that I really dropped a few hammers to reclose the gap, quieting my breathing as I caught up to him in an attempt to fool him into thinking that I wasn’t working very hard. I did manage to put a little distance on him before taking the turn into the Knight Woods, and having a good idea of exactly how far I had left to go was certainly helpful through this stretch.

The Knight Woods Trail sign at the finish lineI thought that Patrick was right behind me the entire time, and I kept worrying that he was going to catch and pass me again. This kept me running hard right through the finish line, where I turned around and realized that he wasn’t there. I won the race in 40:58. It’s too bad that I didn’t think of diving into the puddle in the finish until this point; that would have been fun. I wound up winning the race by a bit over 20 seconds, and Patrick had an 80 second lead over Stephen Wells, who finished in third.

The women’s race was won by Katherine Creswell in 48:08, which was good for 17th overall. She beat Emma Barclay by just over a minute.

Jamie Anderson @ the finish line playing in the mudI attempted to get photos of all of the finishers (excluding the first 5 or 6 who finished before I could retrieve my camera) but most of them came out fairly poorly. I was a bit of a distance off from the runners in order to keep my camera out of the rain, but a few of them came out passably.

It was a small race, but it was a lot of fun and the trail was easily able to support the number of runners. The second race in the series in the Bradbury Mountain Breaker on August 10th, which runs as a 9 mile race over 2 separate loops up and down Bradbury Mountain.

I hope to see you there. Visit Trail Monster Running for more information.

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