Hatfield Harvest On Hiatus

The Runner, by Barry Moser

I REGRET to announce that, after seven years, the Hatfield Harvest 5K is on hiatus. With a new book, Apples of New England, coming out in August and my usual responsibilities with the fall apple crop, something has to give. Barring the unforeseen, the hiatus may become permanent.

I feel I have not done the race justice in recent years, and despite a scenic course, good food, and distinctive prizes, it has not caught on. It may be that there simply is a glut of 5K fundraisers in the area, especially in the fall. It used to be that 5K races were rare, and 10K was the most popular distance locally, but that ratio has reversed over the past several decades: now 10K races are hard to find.

To all of those runners who have participated in the past, to the many volunteers, sponsors, and other contributors, I extend my appreciation and thanks for your support.

In the unlikely event that someone out there is interested in taking over the Hatfield Harvest, I will be glad to work with him or her on the transition. The race, a fundraiser for the Hatfield Agricultural Advisory Committee, is pretty straightforward, and all of the pieces are in place, from volunteers and sponsors to shirts and course markers.

If anyone wants to take this on, please contact me by June 28.

Russell Powell, Director

Hatfield Harvest 5K

Poe, Bigos Win 7th Annual Hatfield Harvest 5K

Winner Carson Poe extends his lead in the final mile of the Hatfield Harvest 5K.

Winner Carson Poe extends his lead in the final mile of the Hatfield Harvest 5K.

Carson Poe of Northampton won the 7th annual Hatfield Harvest 5K Saturday with a time of 18:26. For Poe, 35, it was his second win in Hatfield, as he also finished first on a rain-drenched course in 2011. Former Elms College standout Jill Bigos, 26, of Ludlow was the first female finisher, crossing the line at 23:34, 13th overall.

Conditions were good. Thursday’s and Friday’s rain left some puddles along the route, but nothing as dramatic as in 2010, when runners had to navigate calf-deep water in one spot.

For complete results, click here.

No More Plastic


The pavement ends at the end of mile one

The pavement ends at the end of mile one

THERE WILL BE plenty of water at the 7th Annual Hatfield Harvest 5K and 2-Mile Walk Saturday, October, 5. But after our inventory of plastic bottles runs out, we will be serving water from paper cups. In this modest way we hope that fewer of these seemingly indestructible icons of 21st-century waste litter the beautiful Hatfield landscape (or fill the area’s landfills).

Here are some other pertinent details about this year’s race and walk, which begins at 10 a.m. at the Hatfield Elementary School (registration begins at 9 a.m.):

The event is sponsored by the Hatfield Agricultural Advisory Committee to raise funds to support the town’s agriculture. The town committee, charged with educating the public about Hatfield’s rich agricultural heritage and promoting its working farms, has no budget, but in the past decade has completed a number of projects, including a brochure about the town’s farms and farm stands; “The Art of Farming,” a series of 8’x32’ murals with agricultural themes, by students at Smith Academy, Hatfield’s public high school; and workshops on such topics as land preservation and pesticide use.

Co-sponsors of the race, and contributors to the committee’s work, include Swaz Potato Farms and People’s United Bank, plus Northeast Solar, Pacific Printing, River Valley Market, Teaguys, and Chris Rob Weeks Design. Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact powellr2@comcast.net.

runner_transparentIllustrator Barry Moser contributed the original engraving of a runner that is featured on the T-shirt awarded to the first 100 entrants. Signed and numbered, limited-edition prints framed by Off The Wall Picture Framing are awarded to the first male and female finishers of the 5K race.

The top three finishers in six age categories, male and female, receive pumpkin pies baked by Smithsonian Catering.

In addition to water, there are baked goods and fresh fruit at the finish line.

The course is a beauty, flat, about half pavement, half dirt, through agricultural fields and Hatfield’s historic main street. The course runs along the dike above the Connecticut River for about one mile as runners circle back toward town.

Last year’s winners were Mitchell Isaacson, with a time of 17:42, and Madeline McKeever, in 20:12. The course record of 17:11 was set by Chris Dickerson during the race’s inaugural year in 2007. The women’s course record of 18:41 was set by Laura Hutchinson, also in 2007.

The entry fee is $25; $20 by September 20. For an application, click here.

7th Annual Hatfield Harvest 5K Application Now Available

APPLICATIONS for the 7th Annual Hatfield Harvest 5K Road Race and 2-mile Walk are now available here: 7th Annual Hatfield Harvest 5K application.

The walk and race, which benefit local agriculture, will be held Saturday, October 5, at 10 a.m.

Last year’s overall winner was Mitchell Isaacson of Providence, Rhode Island, in a time of 17:42. The course record of 17:11 was set by Chris Dickerson in 2007.

The women’s winner in 2012, Madeline McKeever, also of Providence, finished in a time of 20:12. Laura Hutchinson holds the women’s course record of 18:41, in 2007.

Prizes include signed and numbered prints by Barry Moser, and pumpkin pies made by Smithsonian Caterers. Race sponsors include Off The Wall Framing, Pacific Printing, People’s United Bank, Swaz Potato Farms, River Valley Market, Teaguys, and Chris Rob Weeks Design.

Crossing Five Fingers

IMG_1573I HAVE ABOUT TRIED EVERYTHING over the past few years of running in an effort to eliminate or at least reduce the persistent calf, hamstring, and quadriceps strains I invariably experience when I attempt serious training:

  • Modified my training regimen to fewer, shorter runs at an easier pace;
  • Drunk more fluids before, during, and after runs;
  • Taken vitamins and other supplements;
  • Changed my diet;
  • Changed my shoes;
  • Been fitted for orthotics;
  • Tried different running surfaces—pavement, off-road, treadmill, track;
  • Stretched more;
  • Stretched less;
  • Done cross training (bicycle, swim, gardening, hiking);
  • Gone to physical therapy;
  • Taken yoga and massage (and used a massage stick)—wonderful, healing activities that nevertheless have not cured what ails me when I train;
  • Lost weight; and
  • Taken time off (lots).

Nothing seems to work, or work for long. Although there are many runners older than me who have put on more miles, it may simply be that my competitive running days are over. If that is the case, I cannot complain. This hard-on-the-body sport has been good to me, and taught me a lot.

I have enjoyed hundreds of pleasurable runs, alone and in company, and raced competitively for several decades in distances from 5K to the marathon. I have had success coaching men and women at the collegiate level, and organized several community road races like the Hatfield Harvest 5K. Even today, many of the lessons I learned under the stressful conditions of running find expression and meaning in other areas of my life. Running, the great metaphor. If my fate now is to be a casual athlete, so be it.

Yet I do miss the experience of going out and hammering a five-mile run, or running literally for hours, covering ground and observing my landscape at a unique speed, faster than a walk, slower than a bicycle. So I periodically respond to the urge, not to recapture my youth, but to feel fast and fit in ways that only running provides. My latest try is a pair of Five Fingers.

Those of you unfamiliar with the term can be forgiven for not realizing that they are running shoes, not gloves. It seems perverse to me to call something for your foot “fingers”; if the marketers were intent on alliteration, why not call them simply “Ten Toes?” Be that as they may, they are the latest development in running shoes, brought famously to attention in the 2009 best-selling book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall.

Born to Run is a quick and fun read, a fast-paced story about ultra-long distance running (we are talking 100 miles or more here, often in extreme temperatures over rough terrain), and the reclusive Tarahumara Indians who excel at it, without the conventional training and equipment American runners have come to depend on.

This includes the running shoe. McDougall questions the wisdom of the ultra-padded modern running shoe, arguing that these brightly colored shoes negate the foot’s natural strength and can lead to, rather than prevent, injury, more concerned with fashion than safety. Naturally, the book has been controversial in running circles and, while I found a lot of what McDougall wrote made sense, I was not ready to run right out and buy a pair of the new Five Finger shoes. The idea of using the best of technology to approximate the way humans ran before the invention of shoes intrigued me, though; the Five Fingers are like thin rubber gloves, with Vibram soles and individual toes, designed to enable the foot to strike and recover more naturally than a heavily padded shoe.

As a coach for nearly a decade at Amherst and Mount Holyoke colleges, I was often  baffled by the frequency and severity of running injuries young runners seem susceptible to today compared to when I was in high school and college. In those unsophisticated days, we trained as hard as today’s athletes, but with less supervision and medical support. We rarely stretched and only changed shoes when the soles were well worn.

Yet it seemed like the main injury my teammates and I suffered from were occasional bouts of shin splints, a painful but relatively minor stress of the lower leg that can usually be cured by rest. Given the bevy of more severe ailments my runners and those on other teams were prone to, from plantar fascitis to Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Achilles tendinitis and even stress fractures—not to mention my own experiences with muscle strains—it is hard for me to dismiss McDougall’s premise out of hand.

So having exhausted all other remedies, I recently bought a pair of Five Fingers. My older brother has had good experience with them; he took up running for the first time after reading McDougall’s book, and began with Five Fingers. He has now gone through several pairs, and it is all he has ever worn—he has never run in a conventional running shoe. While he typically runs less far and is less competitively inclined than me, he regularly races in 5Ks and trains year-round, and has only had one minor injury.

I walked in my Five Fingers for the first time yesterday, a recommended way to acclimate to them before running. I had been told that people who land on the ball of their foot, rather than their heel, are less prone to injury with Five Fingers, which encouraged me, since I am naturally a “ball” striker. But I quickly learned on my walk that just because I run on my toes does not mean that I walk on them. I had to alter my walking gait to prevent the feeling of hitting my heels hard, but otherwise they felt fine, if odd.

You do not need socks with Five Fingers (and they are machine washable), and that had appeal during this stretch of hot, humid weather. Until your foot gets shaped to them, it can be hard to align your toes properly with each opening, but after a few attempts I managed to get all ten little piggies in the right places. I walked for an hour on dirt roads, but Five Fingers are considered appropriate for both long distances and pavement (a number of runners were seen wearing them at this year’s Boston Marathon).

I gradually got used to their barefoot-like feel, and today took them out for their first run. It was light, about 30 minutes at an easy pace, along some of the same dirt roads. The shoes worked fine, although they felt radically different from my conventional Nikes. The Five Fingers look a little funny, too; staring down at them I felt a little like Donald Duck. I kept my eyes on the ground more than usual, fearing rocks, sticks, or glass, but I landed awkwardly on only one small stone, which gave me a brief jolt that disappeared quickly.

It is far too early to know if the Five Fingers will help keep my legs healthy, and I did buy a pair of my favorite Air Pegasus running shoes at the same time, in case the Five Fingers do not work out. I may alternate the two unless and until one type of shoe proves superior. In any event, I have decided to try the latest technology to take me back, close to my pre-historic roots.


Isaacson, McKeever win 6th Hatfield Harvest 5K

IT WAS A RHODE ISLAND SWEEP at yesterday’s 6th Annual Hatfield Harvest 5K, as Mitchell Isaacson, 26, and Madeline McKeever, 25, both of Providence, were the men’s and women’s overall winners.

Isaacson paced the field of 70 in a time of 17:42, edging last year’s winner, Carson Poe, 34, who finished in second place in a time of 18:01.  The course record of 17:11 was set by Chris Dickerson during the race’s inaugural year in 2007.

McKeever finished third overall with a time of 20:12, ahead of 2010 race winner Amy (Lane) Ruisecki, 33, who was fifth overall with a time of 20:59. Ruisecki is the only woman to finish first overall in the Hatfield Harvest, with a time of 19:43 in 2010. The women’s course record of 18:41 was set by Laura Hutchinson in 2007.

The race course was in great shape, and temperatures were in the 60s. For complete results, visit 6th Annual Hatfield Harvest 5K.

The forecast is good

The weather for this morning’s Hatfield Harvest 5K and 2-mile walk looks good: 66 degrees at 10 a.m., partly cloudy, no rain! Come walk or run!