Friday, November 23, 2012


Curley Goulet
Over the course of the year I have run some BIG IMPORTANT races including: The Boston Marathon, The Pineland Farms 25k, The Stone Cat 50 Miler, and nearly every race in the New England Grand PrixSeries. So, last weekend I decided to mix it up a bit and run a LITTLE IMPORTANT race – The Curley Goulet Memorial Novemberfest Trail Race and Party

The Curley Goulet Novemberfest is organized by members of my running club – The Gate City Striders. It is named after the deceased former president of Club National.  Curley opened the doors of his club on Pine Street in Nashua to all Striders who affectionately referred to it as "church" for over 25 years. And, in that tradition of giving, all the proceeds from Novemberfest benefited one of Curley's favorite charities, the Nashua Children's Home

The original Novemberfest ran for 10 consecutive years from 1995 through 2004 with a tradition of bringing in “celebrity guests” to entertain the runners. Over the years, these guests included Bob Dole, Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, Mark Martin, The Three Stooges, Headless Ted Williams, John Kerry and Father Dick. Novemberfest was also known for zany antics such as beer stops (with optional beef jerky), door prizes made from actual doors, recycled age-group awards, and winners disqualified for being TOO FAST!

Celebrity Referees
Novemberfest came back to life (with a few minor modifications) in 2009 and has been going strong ever since. Last year there were 150 runners, 3 celebrity guests (including Charlie Sheen, Peter Griffin and Stewey Griffin), and the race raised $3000 for the Children’s Home. This year I finally was able to run it (meaning I was here and un-injured) so I signed up and braced myself for some fun!  Actually, I did more than brace. I em-braced!

Getting into the spirit of the event I went down to the costume store and picked up a fake wig and mustache. That, paired with my vintage Oregon Ducks singlet, made my Steve Prefontaine costume complete. It was perfect! Perfect for Novemberfest, perfect for racing and perfect for showing my solidarity for my fellow ‘stache growing, prostate aware “bros” celebrating Mo-vember. There was only one problem. When I got to the race and put on the wig, I looked more like Borat than Pre. Oh well, the race must go on!

The Start
I really got a kick out of doing striders at the start in my Pre/Borat costume. And, I think the confused patrons kind of enjoyed it as well. Eventually the “real show” got underway. This year’s “celebrity guests” were like a blast from Novemberfest past. Monica Lewinsky, Charlie Sheen, John Kerry & Peter Griffin - all working as replacement race referee’s! So, after a couple of penalty flags (and challenges) over a “false start” this party of a race finally began. The crowd surged forward through the mill yard, headed on down the Nashua River Trail and eventually into the woods.

Who IS That?
The lead pack of 4 that headed up the first flight of steps (yes steps!) included myself, trail series stud Frank Rabusic, speedy senior (and renowned party animal) Jeremiah Fitzgibbon, and last years winner (and course record holder) Festus Mbuva. We clicked along the upper canal at a quick but comfortable pace with me in the lead, Festus in my slipstream and Jerry & Frank close behind.

After we turned right at the High School Bridge I could see that Frank & Jerry had dropped back a bit.  It was now a two-man race! Every once in a while I would pick up the pace just to see how Festus would react. And, each time, he stayed tucked in. Right on my shoulder. We entered the single-track portion of the race and after a bit I could feel some separation between us. It felt like I was floating through this section. No trace of fatigue from my recent 50 miler.

Borat & Festus
Once the trail opened back up again, Festus re-closed the gap. We got back out onto the main trail, with about a mile to go, and I knew the only chance I had for a win was to start my “kick” now. Waiting til the end of the race (against a speedster like Festus) would be like standing around waiting for the lion to pounce. So, I decided to be the lion. At least in my mind!

Unfortunately, like he did all race, Festus matched my acceleration and soon we were side by side, flying down the trail. Soon he had a stride (or two) lead and extended that on the last little rise into the mill yard. I closed the gap a bit over the final hundred yards but could get no closer than the 4 second winning margin. His 30:53 to my 30:57. Just 2 seconds slower than last years course record pace!

4.9 miles at 6:19 pace on dirt, up steps and through the woods in a fake wig & mustache? Yup. I’ll take it! Heck, after all the "big time" races I'd run this year (with all the super fast and super fit, uber-athletes) it just felt great to be running near the front of a race once again! It might even be the most fun I've had all racing year!

Fun at Martha's
The post-race festivities at Martha’s Exchange were well worth the price of admission. The hand-crafted micro-brews flowed as freely as the bad jokes. Recycled Applefest medals were handed out along with some donated turkeys, restaurant gift certificates and a baseball bat autographed by Dustin Pedroia. Due to a technicality, I missed out on the “First Loser” trophy. But, ended up walking out with the coveted “door prize”. However, the real winners on this day were the kids at the Nashua Children’s Home who received a check in excess of $3000!

Next up: The Mill Cities Relay!

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