The Weeping Willlow - EFTA Race Series #1
Written by: Karen Potter
The Weeping Willow, race #1 of the EFTA series, is probably one of those most popular races in the series. Held in Willowdale State Forest in Ipswich, Massachusetts, it is on it's third year running and it sells out well before race day. The course is a 7-mile loop of super fast, sweeping trails with tight, rooty singletrack with a few dirt road sections to allow for room to pass. Once on the singletrack, passing is quite difficult, if not dangerous.
Racers were greeted with beautiful sunny skies and 80 degree temps, which felt hot compared to what the weather's been in the Massachusetts, although in the shade of the woods it was much more comfortable which was the majority of the course.
The women's field had lots of local talent toe the line, several strong cyclocross racers mixing it up with some mountain bike racing. The race started on a gradual downhill which made the pace super hot, especially with a bunch of cross racers. Endurance racer, Karen Potter, took the hole shot into the first short singletrack section and being chased tightly but Jena Greaser, Crystal Anthony, Karin Holmes and Mo Bruno Roy. On the extended double track section she was passed going into the long singletrack section. Jena took the lead of the group for about 1/3 of the lap until a dab on a short uphill had the train of ladies off their bikes but left a gap for Potter to take an inside line and passed the group and didn't look back. She won in 2:00:43. The remaining four duked it out for a good lap or so and finally Anthony and Holmes escaped the pack to finish 2nd and 3rd consecutively.
The men's fields was also stacked with local talent of top xc racers and cross racers. A lead group of the top 6 finishers stayed together tightly through 3 laps where half way through the 3rd lap (of 4) Dylan McNicholas put the hammer down and rode away from the pack for the win in 2:19:11. Shawn Milne, Brian Wilichoski and Matthew O'Keefe stayed tight with Milne breaking away near the end of Lap 4 for the 2nd spot and Wilichoski finishing 3rd and O'Keefe in 4th half a minute apart.