Keeping Score: A challenging summer’s excess

Friday, June 23, 2017

Good morning!

There was a Franklin County angle to two grueling endurance tests last week, the 7.6-mile Mt. Washington Road Race and the 72-hole Bandon Solstice.

On Saturday, a record number of Franklin County runners slogged their way to the top of the highest mountain on the Presidential Range, and on Tuesday Greenfield native Scott Frost was part of an entourage that played all four links-style courses at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore.

“It was exhausting,” said the 30-year-old Greenfield native. “I timed it at 14 hours and 20 minutes.”

Bandon Dunes is 25 miles south of North Bend. Its website describes it as a golfing destination “true to the spirit of Scotland’s ancient links with sweeping untamed shore and primeval grassy dunes.”

“We have four links courses, meaning they link the sea,” said communications director Michael Chupka. “The sandy soil plays fast and firm and the wind picks up after the morning fog burns off.”

It wasn’t like eight spins around the Meadows Golf Course along the Deerfield River.

“It’s not even close in comparison to any other course,” said Frost, who has a 1.3 handicap and three holes-in-one. “It’s in the middle of nowhere, not a house in sight, and we were weaving through dunes. The wind was 30 miles per hour, gusting to 40, I hit a nine-iron 80 yards that I usually hit 160 yards.”

The seventh annual event has already garnered a waiting list. “Anyone who participates is welcome back” said Chupka, and most are willing to pay the $1,575 entry fee to reprise their journeys over 26 miles of fairway. 

There wasn’t a leaderboard; the duel was in the deed and 84 men and six women teed off at 5:45 a.m. Carts were prohibited and caddies were optional. “We were tired after 36 holes and stayed that way for the next 36, so we used caddies,” said Frost. “I’m not sure how the caddy master worked it, but one guy did all 72 holes and we gave him $500.”

Chupka said that there is virtually no attrition rate. “One or two a knee or ankle flared up, and last year two sons brought their 72-year-old father who wasn’t aware what he’d gotten himself into. He played 36 holes and told the boys to finish strong.”

An Eaglebrook grad, Frost earned a marketing degree at Ferris State University in Michigan. He moved to San Diego for an executive sales position at TaylorMade, a club manufacturer that Outside Magazine named “one of America’s best places to work.”

Tailor-made, it would seem, for a golfer who could finish 72 holes and consider it all in a day’s work.

After Saturday’s Mount Washington race, 65-year-old Richard Larsen and his running pals lolled on an outcrop and enjoyed the view from the highest peak in the Northeast.

“The beer tasted really good,” he said.

Larsen placed 94th overall and was first in his age group, besting 34 others in record time. “Hill running is one of my specialties and it was foremost on my mind to get up there before 1:34:00 clicked off. That was my achievement. My first (Mt. Washington) I trained really hard and went out too fast and blew a gasket.”

Such a daunting climb, he said, was as tough on the brain as it was on the legs. “You can be doing well and still feel like you’re failing. What I found was you can walk a lot and not lose too much time.”

Asked if it compared to running up Crittenden Hill in Shelburne’s Bridge of Flowers 10K he replied, “It’s exactly like Crittenden Hill, except that’s one kilometer. This was 12 kilometers and there’s altitude to deal with, so it’s a double whammy.”

Larsen’s group included Al Ladd, Barney Collins, Mike Hoberman and Graham Warder. They ran in the name of Team Conz in honor of the Northampton runner Nancy Conz who passed away in February.

Three other local runners finished in the top 100 — 37-year-old Kim Nedeau of Leverett (48th in 1:23:04) 34-year-old Kelsey Allen of Wendell (63rd in 1:26:10) and 16-year-old Carsten Carey of Sunderland (98th in 1:32:28). All three finished in the top five of their respective age groups.

Defending champion Joseph Gray was the only runner to finish in under an hour (58:58); women’s winner Shannon Payne crossed in 1:11:18. Their $1,000 prize money was enough to pay for their trips back home to the high country.

“Next year I’m going to train in Colorado,” Larsen vowed. “My brother lives in Colorado Springs and I’ll train there for a week.” 

All told, 1,049 competitors reached the top, anchored by 97-year-old George Etzweiler of State College, Pa., (4:05:33) and 86-year-old Don Taylor of Hedgesville, Pa., in 3:38:26.

Etzweiler said he was slowed by a bad hip. Most people his age don’t have hips.

Three New England teams made the College World Series— Holy Cross, Yale and Central Conn. State. The Crusaders chartered out of Hartford, landed in Lincoln for the Cornhuskers to board, and then beat Nebraska in the regionals in Corvallis.

Holy Cross subsequently lost to Yale which lost to Oregon State, 11-0. Meanwhile in Fort Worth, the Blue Devils  lost back-to-back games to TCU (9-6) and Dallas Baptist (6-5).

When he was a hockey player, Edward “Ted” Cahill scored two shorthanded goals for the Lunt Silver Blades at the Big E Coliseum. 

That was a while ago. Currently he’s recovering from a stroke and is in rehab at Mercy Hospital. He’s in Room 413, and the mailing address is 233 Carew Street, Springfield, MA. 01104.

SQUIBBERS: The Yankees were swept four straight for only the third time since Joe Girardi became manager in 2008. … That was in Oakland, and it was the homecoming of Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge. One fan from Judge’s hometown waved a signing reading,“I Was Aaron Judge’s Principal” … Those Houston Astros looked like the powerful Baltimore Orioles but with pitching. Dallas Kuechel (9-0) and Lance McCullers (6-1) will be healthy when the Sox play them the final four games of the season in Boston, and they may meet yet again in the postseason. .… UMass announced on Thursday that AD Ryan Bamford had extended lacrosse coach Greg Canella’s contract through the 2019-20 season. That’s good news for the longtime lax coach despite his three straight losing seasons. He’s getting alumni help to right the ship and could register his all-time 200th win next season. … Racehorse owner Bill Gutfarb reports “Electrified” is entered in today’s fifth race at Belmont Park, six furlongs on the turf. “Shorter than preferred but she’s ready,” said Gutfarb, who’s partners in the Mosaic Stable with South Carolinian Monica Driver. Electrified is trained by Leah Gyarmati and will be ridden by Mike Luzzi. She’s 8/1 in a crowded field that includes Discreet Image as the probable favorite. … Chicago White Sox announcers Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson ripped the Blue Jays’ lack of hustle last weekend. “Donaldson is running as fast back to the dugout as he was to first,” said Farmer. Despite their 6-17 start, the Jays are the AL’s average attendance leaders with nearly 39,000 a game at the Rogers Centre. … According to baseball-reference.com, the Yankees have won 86 of 115 challenges under Joe Girardi; the Red Sox have won 69 of 153 under John Farrell. … Bronson Arroyo went on the DL this week and the right-hander’s 16-year career may end two wins shy of 150. Arroyo will long be remembered for having the ball slapped out of his glove by Alex Rodriguez in the 2004 ALCS. A-Rod was called out for interference and the Red Sox held on for the 4-3 win at Yankee Stadium. … Cameron Maybin led off with a double against the Yankees on Tuesday night. Maybin homered in his first big league at bat — in Yankee Stadium off Roger Clemens. … Don’t look now, but Tito’s Tribe is on a roll. … Williams College SID Dick Quinn reports: “(Greenfield’s) Josh Hillman qualified for the PGA Professional Championship in Sunriver, Oregon, but carded a first-round 86, so he likely will not make it to round three.”

Hillman, who shot 86 the following day and missed the cut, coaches at Williams and is head pro at Taconic Golf Club. … The average time for a game is up to 3:08 this year. Who cares? Watch six innings, turn on the DVR and wake up to breakfast and baseball.

Say a prayer for Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy, who will have a lung cancer operation on Monday. 

Remy’s candid discussions with NESN’s Dave O’Brien during the Red Sox games have helped people confront their fears. He said the most recent relapse was found during a routine three-month checkup. “This is the fifth time I’ve had it. Each time it’s been caught early. The point I’m trying to make to everybody, go see a doctor.”

Remy said he expects to be back behind the microphone after the All-Star Break. By then we’ll be tired of Dennis Ecklersey’s goofball slang about high heat, soft salad and the do-drop-in.

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley. He can be reached by email at sports@recorder.com.