JFK 50 Miler

Reach The Beach 2009 - Ultra Team

“Does a lion stretch before chasing a gazelle?” – Ranger Dave

After months of anticipation, and even fewer months of training (for some), the Masssole teams were finally assembled and ready to head off to RTB 2009. The Masssoles 2009 edition consisted of 3 teams:

- Masssoles I (nothing beats the original, not even a failed transmission 1/3 of the way into RTB 2009)

- Masssoles Too (still waiting on our franchise fee)

- Ultra Wicked Masssoles (not to be confused with Ultra Masssoles 2008. That team fell apart faster than Mike’s mini-van. See above.)

Unfortunately, this write-up will only encompass the wickedly awesome adventures of the Ultras, hence forth to be known as UWM.

Before I begin, let’s take a couple of steps back before we can really step forward in this story.

The original Ultra Wicked Masssoles team for 2009 was quickly assembled many months before the race date, but due to a “last minute” injury to a founding member, I was asked by Andy (El Capitan) to join his team. Besides me and Andy, the final cast members consisted of a very accomplished Ironwoman (Catherine Shelley), a college running star (Kevin Golen), an unassuming running machine (David Dorsey), and the eventual Ironhorse/donkey of UWM, Jay Soroko. Oh yeah, they also all work for Fox News in NY. Who knew that Fox harbored some of the best shows AND some of the best athletes!

In order to qualify and be certified as a Masssoles team, you have to be clearly lacking adult supervision and any form of organizational skills. Check and double check.

Three weeks before RTB, the most essential piece of equipment still had to be obtained; the team’s PASSENGER van (the 12-15 person variety, not the 3-4 kids + 1 soccer mom variety). What are the chances that all passenger vans within 200 miles of Earth would be rented out 3 weeks before RTB? 120%. That’s no joke because every rental place had a waiting list! Amazingly, and too good to be true, I was able to RESERVE a 12 passenger van 3 weeks before RTB!! Unfortunately, THRIFTY CAR RENTAL (40 Lee Burbank Hwy, Revere, MA) is good at one thing, TAKING reservations, and not HOLDING reservations. Here, I’ll let Jerry explain it:

Jerry Seinfeld Explains the Concept of Reservations

Yes. 2 Days before RTB 2009, UWM received the RTB kiss of death. No passenger van available. According to THEFTY Car Rental, it was a glitch in their system that I was able to reserve one to begin with. Slime ball translation: “Sorry, we rented out all of our vans and we wanted to make sure you reserved with us as long as possible in case someone canceled”. The consolation prize offered to us by THEFTY? Use two mini vans! How ingenious! Thanks, THEFTY! Why didn’t I think of that BEFORE I reserved the passenger van?

Ask any rookie RTB squad after they’ve completed an RTB in mini-vans and you will hear stories not suited for kids without clear adult supervision, like the inaugural Masssoles 2005 team.

We had three options this late in the game:

- Option 1: Use a passenger van.

- Option 2: Use a passenger van.

- Option 3: Don’t use 2 mini-vans and run the entire 200 miles without a passenger van.

Option 3 was looking better by the minute until Option 4 was suggested by Gary (Masssoles Too Captain): Ask the NY Ultra members to scour the NYC area for a passenger van! How ingenious! Thanks, Gary! You should work for THEFTY.

The determination and resourcefulness that would eventually define this year’s Ultra team kicked into high gear. Fortunately for us, NYC is more than 200 miles away AND, apparently, not a part of Earth! Catherine “The Great” Shelley was able to track down an available passenger van all gassed up (all 600 gallons) and ready to be a part of Masssoles lore.

And so, 4 of our 6 fearless heroes began their 5 hour re-enactment of John Carpenter’s Escape from NY on a cool and beautiful Thursday afternoon.

Andy and I were on hand at the hallowed grounds of the Cisco Parking Lot (near shipping & receiving) to send off the majority of the other 2009 Masssoles. Just curious, why do we still meet there when nobody works there anymore? Including those that still work thereJ

Quick commercial for the greatest Den Mothers and bakers of all time: Karen and Lynne! I’ll be the first in line once you two open up that bakery.

…and All that was left for Andy and I to do was to wait for our comrades from NY to arrive.

1 hr later…

The sun had already set when out of the darkness came a shiny beacon of a white, untarnished van with New York plates. Andy and I were either going to be mugged and kidnapped, or be greeted by a bunch of New Yorkers. Fortunately, we were mugged with greetings by the greatest group of transplanted New Yorkers ever! Supplies and gear were quickly unloaded, loaded, unloaded, and loaded again…and off we went to New Hampster!

The UWM crew eventually met up with Masssoles I - Van 1 and 5/6th at a quaint, local New Hampshire eatery named Uno’s Chicago Bar & Grill. Dinner was followed by a 1 hr drive to Waterville Valley where Andy has the annual rights to his friend’s condo. THANK YOU ANDY’S FRIEND, WHOEVER YOU ARE!

Masssoles I - Van 1 had beaten us to the condos, but unbeknownst to them, there was more than one condo at the site with stairs!! Andy tried really, really hard to explain to Ranger Dave that if he just stood in the middle of the circular driveway, with a sundial, in the middle of the night, on the 17th of every Sept, pointing towards the 1 o’clock directional, that he would be able to clearly see the right condo! Fortunately for all, Dave only had his Ranger t-shirt on him, and that was enough to find the correct condo.

We all eventually selected our sleeping quarters like a less bitchy version of America’s Top Model. Leg assignments were finalized and time projections entered into HAL, our abnormally friendly Super Race Computer.

Lights went out and I was deep asleep when I was awoken by the sound of thunder. How far off, I sat and wondered. Ain’t it funny how the night moves? No rain, just thunder. Strangest thing ever. The walls were shaking. I still can’t figure it out. A steady beat. Like someone breathing with a dying squirrel caught in their throat…

…10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

OFF GOES JASON!!! Leading the 10:40 AM wave like a mad dash for the finish of a 208 mile race!! I had the honor and privilege of kicking off Leg 1 of RTB 2009 for the Ultra Wicked Masssoles. I ran this Leg In 2008 and I knew it well. An added bonus this year was that I had a crazy-ass mofo Army Ranger on my tail from Masssoles I. Round 1: Jason “The Human Spreadsheet” Bui vs. Ranger Dave.

Leg 1 (Jason – 8.20 miles – 6:23 pace – 52:22): I took it real easy and steady at the start since it’s a steep downhill, littered with loose rocks for the first ¼ of a mile. My experience at the Wapack 17 miler, two weeks prior, flashed into my mind as I navigated the start of Leg 1. I had turned and popped an ankle at Wapack (first racing DNF ever) on similar terrain. A repeat experience now would all but end any chance for UWM to complete RTB 2009. Once on paved road I settled into a more comfortable sub 6 minute pace. When I could no longer hear Ranger Dave’s infectious laugh, I knew that I had at least a 3 mile lead on him…

A peculiar thought popped into my head about 4 miles into Leg 1, “where the F*** was my team’s van?” Masssoles Van 1 just passed by and cheered me on. Other team vans were passing by, cheering me on, and providing support to their runner. I was doing fine, but took some water and encouragement from Masssoles Van 1 at about the 5 mile mark, “Where’s the van!?”

A strong headwind kicked in with a light drizzle, and the only runner close to me throughout the leg caught up to me. He was a bigger guy than me so I appreciatively gave him the lead. I started some small talk to gauge how he was doing, “First RTB…Moxie…this headwind sucks”. He was out of breathe, but doing a hell of a job of blocking the headwind.

I knew by mile 6 that the team van must have already gotten lost…on a straight road! 202 miles to go in the race. This was going to be a long 28 hrs.

Looking down at my GPS, I knew I had about a mile to go, give or take 2 miles according to Ranger Dave’s GPS readout from last year for this leg. I passed the runner from Team Moxie on a tough uphill portion and kept the lead the rest of the way.


“WHAT THE ****!” With less than 5 minutes to spare before I reached TA 1, the team van went flying by.

Yep, they got lost.

Leg 2 (Catherine – 8.96 miles – 8:33 pace – 1:16:39): I handed off to Catherine “The Great” Shelley for Leg 2, which is rated as HARD. A steady up and down course for the first 4 miles, and then a tough 200+ foot climb over 5 miles. This IronWoman (competed in Ironman Arizona and Ironman Brazil, and probably climbed a few mountains to warm up) lived up to her reputation and flattened the final 5 miles with ease. The clouds were rolling in and Dane from Masssoles I was on the course. I got my umbrella ready. Round 2: Catherine “The Great” Shelley vs. Rain Man.

Catherine held her own all the way to the finish, even as the Rain Man closed the gap and called on his girlfriend, Mother Nature, to do his bidding. Wuss.

Legs 3 & 4 (Andy Bragg – 6.78 miles – 8:11 pace – 55:30): El Capitan took over the running duties from a very upbeat Catherine. Ah, nothing like a side order of pain to get an Ironperson up and going in the morning.

Andy decided to carry his rain jacket with him for Leg 3 as Dane was still out on the course, but not too far behind. Masssoles I was turning the first part of RTB into a Masssoles Showdown. Round 3: El Capitan vs. Denis “Half-Marathon Man” Claveloux.

The benefit (detriment) of being an Ultra is that you can double up on the shorter legs. Also, you get to yell out, “ULTRA, RUNNING THROUGH!!” as you pass through a transition zone….even if you’re not doubling up a leg.

Andy disposed of his rain jacket at TA 3 as Dane was no longer out on the course, doing his f’in rain dance.

Leg 4 is the polar opposite of Leg 3: A 600 ft drop over 3 miles of “running”. Round 4: El Capitan vs. The Sandman.

Reports from the field had Nathan and Andy neck and neck, but Nathan soon realized his mistake of training for this RTB. Fortunately for Andy, Nathan fell asleep near the finish, and Andy hung on for the win at the wire. Andy handed off to Jay “Iron Donkey” Soroko, and Nathan soon followed suit with a hand off to Kate Agule.

Leg 5 (Jay Soroko – 5.52 miles – 7:03 pace – 38:59): The soon-to-be christen Iron Donkey took off like lightning in a bottle…with a 15 mile per hour tail wind, on a leg with a steady 400 ft drop over its entirety…8 min projected pace my “donkey”. Round 5: Iron Donkey vs. Katy “The Kid” Agule.

The Kid Agule showed her genetic makeup by baking a few dozen cookies while at times running at a sub 6 minute clip. Impressive.

The Iron Donkey was no less impressive, galloping down the 5 mile long, 300 ft descent at a 7:03 pace all the way to the TA. Way to ruin my projection spreadsheet, Jay. Sandbagger….

Leg 6 (Kevin Golen – 8.62 miles – 7:15 pace – 1:02:30): The local running star, Kevin Golen, returns home to his old stomping grounds, and I do mean stomping grounds. For someone who’s never done RTB, he sure knew the area pretty well. He and his college running mates from SAINT Anselm have probably covered more NH ground than most NH people, moose included. Round 6: Kevin “The Saint” Golen vs. Brian “The Semi-Professional Plodder” Shorey.

The Masssoles battle came down to this final round. The Plodder went out ahead with about a 1 mile lead thanks to Kid Agule’s cookin’ performance. The Saint went out so fast that the TA person wasn’t even able to see his number!

The Plodder’s lead lasted for about ¼ of a mile as The Saint ripped Leg 6 a new asphalt. The Saint pulled into TA 5 with the sun and Plodder behind him.

This was when the Ultra team lost radio contact with Masssoles I for the remainder of the race. We were sure everything was OK with them… ... --- ... / ...- .- -. / -.. --- .-- -.

Morse Code Translator

Leg 7 (Dave Dorsey – 7.23 miles – 7:03 – 51:03): - Dave “Double D” Dorsey, AKA “Quadruple D” wrestled The Sandbagger Award away from The Iron Donkey about a ½ mile into Leg 7. For the record, this soft-spoken music man had himself down for 8:30’s. 8:30’s!!! WITH TWO BROKEN LEGS, ON THE MOON…MAYBE!!! Besides kicking every runner’s ass out on the course, DD would eventually save my RTB later in the race by giving me a pair of these little miracles: BEST RUNNING SOCKS EVER!!!! (I wore the SAME pair for 27 of my 35 miles, yeah, I know, GROSS, but not one single blister!)

Double D transitioned to me after wiping off some swept from his pinky. I couldn’t believe it was my turn again, already!

Leg 8 (Jason – 6.62 miles – 6:42 – 44:25): I had suffered a side stitch for most of my first leg, but it came and went. Unfortunately, it decided to come back again about a mile into my second leg. Then my back began to stiffen up. What the heck was going on?! NO! It must have been the Myoplex Nutrition Shake that I had downed after my first leg. DOH!!! Bottle clearly says it’s to recover after an intense workout…only problem was that I was in the middle of my intense workout!

The pain was pretty unbearable at certain points, but it was too early to start walking, so I decided to run faster, hoping that the pain would subside. Nope. Maybe faster? Nope.

I had the good fortune of picking legs that were mainly down hill, and the second half of Leg 8 was no exception. The only reason I was able to keep a “fast” pace throughout this leg was because I wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. The second leg curse continues for me.

Some good fortune did fall into my lap on this leg. As I approached a train crossing, the train crossing lights started blinking. The gates came down. No more than 30 seconds after I had passed did a train come barreling through town. From what I heard later on, it was a good 3-5 minutes before runners were allowed to go through the train crossing. Phew!

Traffic was starting to back up in Conway as I flew past vans and cars held up by the relay. I came into the TA, but Catherine was nowhere in sight until the very last second. That was the first of many close, and late, transitions for the Ultra team. Although the team was amazing throughout, grooming while in transition cost us a good 5 minutesJ

Legs 9 & 10 (Catherine – 6.32 miles – 8:36 pace – 54:24): It was about dinner time when Catherine started off on her double up. We were all craving some real food (no offense Karen and Lynne!) at this point in the race. Iron Donkey came up with the great idea to use Catherine’s double up as a chance to grab some food. Jay and I stayed at the TA between Legs 9 & 10 to give Catherine her head lamp as it was approaching 5:30PM. The rest of the team backtracked about ½ a mile to the World’s Slowest Sub Shop.

Catherine came flying through the TA sooner than Jay and I (and my projections) had predicted. “ULTRA, RUNNING THROUGH!”

The food run was taking too long. Catherine was already 10 minutes into a projected 20 minute Leg 10. Jay was finally able to reach Andy on the phone, “Get that last sub and get the BLEEP back here!!” Jay and I ran about 100 yards down the road and hopped into the van as they drove by. Amazingly, there’s no rule about jumping into a moving vehicle.

The subs hit the spot and we hit our mark as the van pulled into the Leg 10 TA with 2 minutes to spare.


The sun was beginning to set, and the fun was about to begin. NIGHT TIME RUNNING was now upon us.

Running in the dark, and in the back woods of New Hampshire, is quite an experience. Armed with only a hand lamp and a blinky vest you are forced to navigate pot holes, dirt trails, and shoulders that drop off into oblivion. We saw one runner take a pretty hard fall after stepping onto some gravel.

The Ultra team accomplished this feat with ease, covering more than half of the entire 208 miles while averaging an 8:23 pace during the witching hours.

Under a cloudless sky and a strong wind, the darkness was turning into one of the coldest nights at RTB.

At some point around 4:15 AM, I had officially qualified for Boston, running a 3 hr 6 min marathon!! Also around the same time, I was voted by CC Striders as, “OMG, HE’S THE WORLD’S FASTEST KID!!” SHHHHH….it’s a quiet zone!

The next 13 legs went by quite uneventfully as the Ultras settled into a very nice rhythm and continued to chew up the miles…


Fatigue was beginning to set in as another morning approached. The entire team was bleary eyed and suffering from Runallnightous. Morning, or death, couldn’t come soon enough for some of us. Michael Jackson’s doctor would have been shocked to see all of the stuff we had put in our bodies over the past 19 hrs.

El Capitan debated whether or not he could even FINISH his next leg, Leg 24. Andy’s heart told him not to put Jay in a bind by forcing the Iron Donkey to run a half-marathon at 5:30 in the morning. Unfortunately, Andy’s stomach thought otherwise halfway through Leg 24 and he was done for…or was he…

The Iron Donkey picked up the remaining 3.4 miles of Andy’s leg and trucked on through the TA for the start of his own leg, a 9.4 miler rated as HARD. “ULTra, running…through.”

I did this leg last year as part of a 12-person team and it SUCKED!! I can’t even imagine what Jay was thinking when he saw the first of many hills on this absolutely nutty leg.

The final hill on this leg climbs over 300 ft for over a mile, and then if that wasn’t enough, the other side of that hill drops you down 500 ft over the span of 2 miles. If Jay wasn’t in pain before this leg, then he surely was now.


During Jay’s leg I started playing around with HAL, our trusty race computer with a soothing voice, to find out what was the least insane way to break up the rest of the race now that Andy was down for the count.

The only reasonable thing for me to do was to bite the bullet myself given the amount of mileage that everyone else had already done, or will be doing. This meant tacking on an additional 5 miles to my second to last leg, making it a 10 mile leg. Ugggg. There’s nothing more deflating in an Ultra than running more mileage than previously planned, especially this far into it.

The Ultra van got eerily quiet as everyone contemplated the fact that one of our own was out of the race per the rule book. If a runner drops out, then it must be REPORTED at the next TA and the running rotation continues, minus that dropped runner.

The only problem was that we NEVER reported Andy’s drop out, and we felt that the TA didn’t catch the fact that Iron Donkey finished Leg 24 for Andy, “ULTRA, RUNNING THROUGH!!” There was still hope, right Andy? RIGHT?!


There’s something about running during normal hours that brings out the best in runners. Although we were all near complete exhaustion, the team was still able to tackle some of the hardest legs on the course at an 8:30 clip.

This Ultra squad was nearly 30 seconds faster per mile than last year’s Ultra crew, which included a Fembot, A 6:30 Marathoner, The Sandman, Rain Man, Ranger Dave, and El Capitan himself.

Andy was feeling like his old self again, but less whiny, by the time his turn came around once more at Leg 30. We all agreed to roll the dice on getting a penalty for allowing Andy back into the game. Besides, I knew the timers that were timing the race! What’s a little politicking after a 35 mile run?

Andy gladly jumped backed in (THANK YOU ANDY!) and busted out a gutsy 9 min/mile for his final 5.58 mile leg, but of course we kept on reminding him that he still owed us 3.4 miles for his disappearing act earlier on. The Captain finished his day with a total of 28.23 miles going at an 8:53 pace.


The BEACH was within REACH by late Saturday morning.

Iron Donkey cranked out his final 6.8 miler, giving him a team leading total of 37.5 miles at a 8:18 pace. The Saint followed up with a 4 mile double leg, bringing his final tally to 34 miles at an 8:01 pace. Double D finished off his 35.3 mile ultra, with a 4 miler, averaging 7:44.

All that was left to do was for me to finish strong and hand it off to Catherine for the final kick.

I had absolutely nothing left in the tank except for delirium for my final 3.4 mile leg. About halfway through the leg an elite runner came bounding up next to me. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I decided to challenge this guy. Only 1 other person had passed me throughout this entire race, so I wasn’t going to let another runner do it. I quickly chased him down and he quickly took off again. Using every last ounce of lactic acid left in me, I chased him down again. He gave me a strange look and I stared back with a wild grin. He probably thought I was going to attack him at that point. He had had enough of my games and he took off going about a 5:30 pace. “I’ll get you next time, Inspector!”

Catherine “The Great” was sporting a brand new pair of shorts, courtesy of New Balance, when I handed off the baton to her. My ultra was done with a total of 35.8 miles and a pace of 7:07, about 10 seconds faster than my original goal. BOSTON, HERE I COME!


Catherine came down the final stretch of paved road before reaching the beach. The rest of the Ultras followed close behind her for the final 100 yard dash to the finish. HAPPINESS, JOY, RELIEF! SHEER AWESOMENESS!!

Clocking in at 28 hrs and 20 mins (official time), The 2009 Edition of the Ultra Masssoles finished with an 8:12 pace! Good enough for 12 out of 20 for Ultra Men’s, and 164 out of 400 for overall. Not too shabby considering that 4 out of the 6 members had never done anything like this before! WELL DONE ULTRAS AND WE’LL SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!!

Left to Right: Andy “El Capitan” Bragg, Catherine “The Great” Shelley, Jay “Iron Donkey” Soroko, Dave “Double D” Dorsey, Kevin “The Saint” Golen, Jason “OMG, HE’S THE WORLD’S FASTEST KID” Bui


Iron Donkey couldn’t wait until NEXT year to start running again. Iron Donkey had taken a bus home after dropping off the team van at LGA in NYC. Shortly after getting off of the bus, Iron Donkey realized that he had left his wallet on the bus! With 30lbs of luggage on hand, Iron Donkey managed to chase down the moving bus and retrieve his wallet!!

Moral of this story: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!


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