Tag Archives: Ben Moeling

Pic of the Day

ELLT 2011 Ben swinging on the rocks

warmer weather makes me think we need to climb outside again this year….


ELLT 2012: Basketball

After some pre-race grumblings that the Race Director stacked the teams to guarantee his first-ever medal, the results showed how evenly matched the field was:

Team 1: Madden, Cavanaugh, and Gus won 2 games

Team 2: Moeling, Shimp, and PHeffernan won 3 games (before the final)

Team 3: JP, Mike, and Fes won 3 games (before the final)

Team 4: Danno, Chris H and Chris R won 2 games

Team 5 got shut out, but its worth noting that due to an injury on the bikes, we had to draw names at Red Hook to determine which player from the 4-person Locals would join Team 5  and Eric Marshall was the lucky/unlucky guy.

And building on 2011’s team t-shirt, multiple teams this year brought out their colors, with the red and green teams, in particular setting the bar high for years to come.

ELLT 2012 Hoops Green shorts

The final game was to be to 9, win-by-two, as everyone was well-exhausted, but once we reached 9, we needed to establish a cut-off. 15, win-by-one…and both teams had multiple chances to close out before we finally got to 14-14.

Given the close, intense competition, I am pretty sure the red team wants to stick together next year, for anther crack at the now defending champs.

Chris Heffernan drives. Yeah, that’s clean hoops…

ELLT 2012 Hoops 1 Fes and Chris

and Fes simply says, “scoreboard”

ELLT 2012 Hoops 2 Fes and Chris and JP

look at Gary’s mad hops…crazy elevation on that “jump” shot

ELLT 2012 Hoops 3 Gary shoorts

ahhhhhh…..this is what happens after 4 events in 2 days

ELLT 2012 Hoops 4 Steve Ball

Gotta be the shoes

ELLT 2012 Hoops 8 gotta be the shoes

to be clear, what Ben is doing in the following 2 pictures is legal


ELLT 2012 Hoops 9 no that is not a foul by Ben ELLT 2012 Hoops Ben plays defense

and whatever they’re all doing here is ok by the rules

ELLT 2012 Hoops Chris Chris Jason rugby

what pure hoops looks like….

ELLT 2012 Hoops Danno is Ray Allen


that is not boxing out


ELLT 2012 Hoops 6 not boxing out

seriously, look at the elevation by both players….

ELLT 2012 Hoops 7 note the elevation


and finally, why we play…..


ELLT 2012 Hoops 5 Why we play

ELLT 2012 Mountain Biking: 24:41/No Apologizations

After 3 years at Willowdale, we moved mountain biking to Stratham Hill in New Hampshire, as previewed here.

The ride included some long climbs, beautiful descents, long stretches of skiing like easy traverses, and only scary moments navigating tricky rocks (ok, scary only for some riders).

Chris Heffernan and Steve Ball managed to ride well, despite being encumbered with hard-tail, no front-suspension bikes, while Eric Marshall again sported his trademark hockey helmet.

For the time trial, we rode straight up to the lookout and then straight back down. We skipped course markers as we had all seen the trail early in the long ride and it was fairly simple — up the double-track and into the clearing, go right, 20 yards later go left. If you go straight, you’re off course. Despite the instructions, a couple racers got lost, leading to a 21 minute difference between the winning time and the longest time. Congratulations, though, to Steve Ball. He can skip the time trial for the next four years and just apply some of his 24:41 minutes to those races.

Of the racers who didn’t get lost, Chris Heffernan set the outside time of 8+ minutes and Tom Gustafson – supposedly on his first mountain bike ride ever — shocked the field with a sub-6 minute ride. Based on 2011 results, the racers crashed through the course, tearing it up faster and faster….except for Steve Otto, who seriously crashed.

More pictures after the final results. And if you missed the links above, its absolutely worth watching the videos: downhill and uphill. And its worth noting that the time differences this year were incredibly small: the first three riders were separated by 7 seconds. The next three riders were separated by 24 seconds. And 6th through 9th place were separated by 15 seconds. Next year, we may need to hire professional time keepers.

Best Time: Danno (3:30)

Winner: Moeling (3:33)

2nd Place: Roy (3:37)

3rd Place: Ratajczak (4:25)

4th: Patrick (4:44)

5th: Marshall (4:49)

6th: Tom Gustafson (5:12)

7th: Shimp (5:13)

8th: Schukraft (5:16)

9th: Madden (5:27)

10th: Graf (6:59)

11th: Chris Heffernan (8:57)

12th: Otto (9:12)*

13th: Doyle: (22:21)

14th: Ball (24:41)

2 Days and a Wake-Up: Time for the Overall Odds

Echoing last year, I’ve saved the overall odds for 2 days before the event, giving everyone plenty of time to lobby, but also enough time to adjust, as needed. A few words on “odds” and scoring.

  • these “odds” are informational only as the House is not actually taking bets. That $25 covers the keg and a shirt, not a bookie fee.
  • The Commissioner confirmed over the weekend that reaching the overall podium requires completing all four stages of the race. Appeals to The Commissioner can be made at any time (good luck with that)

Odds of winning 1st Place Overall in the 2012 East Luray Liars Triathlon

Dan Moore (2011 champion, 2008 3rd place) — 87-1: Danno remains in contention for rock climbing (since he didn’t come in 1st in 2011). His golf game still sucks, he is out of contention for mountain biking, as only one other racer has even been to Stratham Hill and no one has previewed the time trial. In hoops, he’ll have youth and quickness, which may create some solid defense…but not sure any one of the Granite Staters can sink a shot. A win on the rocks and placing in golf and hoops….maybe, but pretty unlikely he’ll be the first repeat champion.

Eric Shimp (2010 champion) — 30-1: Eric will very likely medal in golf (provided Lapham’s math skillz don’t hold up). He is unlikely to medal in climbing (although expectations for him are now low) and unlikely to medal on the bikes. He’s lost his wicked fast wing man in hoops. A first ever repeat champion seems unlikely….but…Eric does lead the field in “Diminishing Expectations Through Reporting Injuries,” including photos and notes from his doctors…..so, a 1st, a 3rd, a couple solid performances…who knows.

JP Ratajczak (2008 champion) — 30-1: The only difference between JP and Eric is golf. And slightly lower expectations on the rocks. And JP has been training on the bikes. And through the wonderful miracle of birth, JP now has the inner strength that comes with being a father (but he isn’t an old man, yet, so he doesn’t have Cavanaugh-like strength). It’s been many years since JP even stood on the final 3 podium… JP could be the first-ever repeat champion.

Ben Moeling (2011 2nd place)— 30-1: The “Herat Handicap” which may have helped last year has been replaced by higher expectations. Much higher. For Ben to repeat he needs to, 1) climb something no one else can; 2) beat Chris Roy on the bikes by more than double the margin Chris beat him last year; 3) set at least on decent pick in every game of hoops. He nails that trifecta and he’s on the podium again.

Eric Lapham (2010 2nd place) — 350-1: Eric will miss two stages, but one of those is a team event. And the two stages he’ll race — climbing and golf — he could potentially medal in, if not outright win (in 2010, he tied for 2nd on the rocks and won at golf). If Lapham is sitting on two 1st place finishes and the next two stages produce 6 winners without another stage win…we’ll still text him with a picture of the overall winners (unless The Commissioner has a change of heart)

Steve Otto (2009 2nd place) — 8-1: Otto got screwed in 2011 because the field slanted heavily towards the rock climbers and mountain bikers, stages that Otto did well in, but faced crazy steep competition. This year, the golfing will be tougher, but expectations for the rocks and bikes will be higher, too. With plenty of training and the return of his wingman, Otto could medal in climbing, golf, and mountain biking. In hoops…well…one of his teammates was on a champion team once. And that same teammate coached youth basketball this year. If he doesn’t depend on hoops, Otto will be well-positioned for a return to the overall top 3.

Steve Ball (2008 2nd place) — 10-1: Steve’s podium finish in 2008 came from the perfect ELLT strategy: low expectations, a strong liver, and good luck. This year he adds training, experience, and a year off to rest. He also increased his basketball IQ by coaching youth sports, although that may prove useful on his team. He’s done a minimal amount of pre-race whining about his physical condition…he has improved his mixing skills…his odds look really, really good.

Steve Schukraft (2011 3rd Place) — 35-1: Last year’s podium finished was based on exceeding expectations and maintaining a steady, consistent pace throughout the race. This year, expectations are higher and the one stage that really pushed him onto the podium – hoops – may be a liability this year. Steve would need to medal on the rocks and the bikes to have any chance. No question he has been training, just uncertain whether that will pay off.

Mike Graf – 15-1: Every year the Young Liars are convinced Me-Mike has a shot at 1st place overall, which means Mike is terrible at setting expectations low (at least with the younger crowd). This year, Mike’s got an improved hoops team, 4 years of experience on the rocks, and a properly-sized mountain bike. If he trims a couple minutes off his time trial and puts that length to use on the rocks…this could be Mike first trip to the overall podium.

Chris Doyle — 9-1: Returning from a couple years off, bringing mad mountain bike skillz and blessed with solid hoops teammates…even a crap golf game and less-than-expectations on the rocks probably won’t be enough to keep Fes off the overall podium (shorter: expectations are way high)

Eric Marshall — 8-1: Here is your 2012 Easy-Money-Lock Grey Horse contender, a true mudder. Rocks and hoops are question marks, but golf and mountain biking should not only be guaranteed medals, but improved over last year, which is always a significant factor in the overall standings.

Jason Madden — 15-1: By running the entire race this year, Jason’s odds improve significantly. He’ll be a rookie on the rocks (sometimes an advantage in the scoring) and I have no idea what his golf game is like. For hoops, he’s got the home court advantage. It comes down to the bikes — a better time trial and he could reach the podium.

Chris Heffernan — 15-1: Seriously, this could be Chris’ year. Low expectations for everything except hoops, but a basketball team that could cause trouble for the favorites. Improved golf skills. Always dangerous on the rocks. And coming off a magna cum laude performance.

Gary Cavanaugh — 80-1: Skipping climbing diminishes Gary’s chances, but I think The Commissioner would make a qualified exception if Gary wins golf and he medals on the bikes and his team pulls out an unimaginable hoops victory. Possible? Yeah, about 80-1 chance…

Chris Roy — 200:-1: Last year’s assessment is almost still all true — “Chris will only join us for hoops and his team is top-ranked in all the pre-season polls (again). He needs total chaos in the first three events to take first overall.” His hoops team is no longer top-ranked in the pre-season polls, but lowered expectations could help. Chaos on day one could help him.

Tom Gustafson — 150-1: Although a rookie (which usually translate to better-than-expected podium finishes), Tom is not climbing, skipping the first 2 stages of the race and severely diminishing his overall chances. Rumint says he is a better than scratch golfer and may topple both Lapham and Otto. His biking skills are based on 2am rides home from the pub. And he is rumored to play hoops like a skier. Just hope the green jacket fits him.

ELLT 2012 Hoops Teams – Get Out the Way

As of now*, the 3-on-3 hoops teams for ELLT 2012…

First, a word on the selection process. I went for athletic balance and a natural grouping this year, however one team lacks a natural point guard and one lacks a Big Man. I’m on one of those teams and the other one is such an inevitable group that they can’t complain. Or they can and it won’t do any good. Bottom line: 4 of the 6 teams have a PG, a Big Man, and a Third Wheel.*** I’ll do scouting reports after the bitching and moaning is over.

Second, we’ve got a rookie joining this year, Tom Gustafson. Tom was Owen’s football coach and has mad skillz on the ski slopes. In other words, not a threat to dunk on Shimp or dribble around Chris Roy.

Third, these teams are pretty well balanced with talent…based on previous performances**…and designed to allow just about any team a chance to win

Cubed: Otto, Ball, Schukraft

NHL: Eric Marshall, Gary, Tom McParland

NH: Chris Roy, Chris Heffernan, Danno

Byfield Newbury Little League: Eric Lapham, Jason Madden, Tom Gustafson

Hoosiers: JP, Mike Graf, Chris Doyle

Diplomatic Corps****: Eric Shimp, Patrick, Ben Moeling

* revisions based on attendance, injuries, and lobbying are probably to be expected…

** if the Grey Ghost runs this year’s triathlon, we’ll shake this all up again….

*** one team’s “Third Wheel” is a legit PG/2-Guard, making that team an early favorite…as I edit this, considering how I may have to break that team up….damn….

**** yeah, its pathetic that Eric Shimp and I still cling to our Foreign Service days like some striped-pants badge of honor…but you’ll be happy we do when you crush us on the court

Handicapping the 2012 Field: Eric Marshall

Eric Marshall

2011 Rookie (Golf, 2nd Place)

Fittingly for a Massachusetts-based triathlon, we have a hockey player in the mix. An umbrella-loving, fedora-sporting, cigar-smoking, helmet-choice-challenged hockey player, who is probably like most other hockey players in all those qualities.


  • hockey skills and stamina, which come into play in soccer, rock climbing, mountain biking, and hoops; one of the few elite athletes among the East Luray Liars.
  • sneaky good golf game. quietly, stealthily, almost secretly good
  • age and wisdom, but see below
  • mental soundtrack never stops playing Iron Maiden’s “Aces High”
  • last man standing, always, no matter how much Knot or Knob Creek has gone down.


  • fondness for umbrellas
  • basketball skills like a hockey player (see below)
  • rides a mountain bike made in 1985
  • mental soundtrack never stops playing Iron Maiden’s “Aces High”
  • a zen-like calmness, which seems out of place in the kill-your-enemy competition of the ELLT, combined with an over-thinking approach that can be paralyzing…age and wisdom….age and wisdom

Past Performance 

Eric was a rookie in 2011, but demonstrated exceptional skills on the golf course and the mountain bike (placed 7th, just five seconds slower than the 18-year-old). Eric also excelled at the prologue stage, the recovery stage, and the post-race stage.

Expectations for 2012

Based on watching other racers handle the rocks in their second triathlon, I am positive Eric’s climbing will be a major improvement over 2011. Better than Ben, Lapham, Shimp, and Otto? Not likely, but 3rd sometimes (not always) goes to the racer who best overcomes expectations. And Eric should improve on the bikes as well — 2 of the 6 people ahead of him last year won’t be eligible to medal this year and 1 will be protecting our chicken-fried freedoms in California. All Eric needs to do is ride faster than McParland and Moeling and he’s on the podium. Hoops…all depends on what his teammates bring…hopefully, for his sake, that will include shooting skills. Of course, his son played travel basketball this winter, so Eric basketball IQ is presumably higher now….

So we’re looking at a maybe rocks and biking medals, a possible 3rd in hoops, but golf is the real wildcard. Eric is likely to be in the final foursome, which will be playing behind McParland, Moeling, Heffernan, and Graf. The other Erics and Otto may not have the zen-like calmness of natural peace and patience to handle the tom-foolery happening in front of them. Eric Marshall has a legit shot at winning at golf – and winning overall, continuing the local streak and reverting back to golfers dominating the ELLT.

Handicapping the 2012 Field: Eric Lapham

No one brings higher expectations to ELLT 2012 than the 2010 runner-up, famously known as ELLT 1st Loser of 1st Losers, Eric Lapham

I initially thought I needed to explain some of Eric’s home court advantages, and then I realized we’re going to capture them all in the strengths (and weaknesses)…without further sandbaggery:


  • As noted in 2011, “Golf handicap of 6, 2 when playing on his home course.” In 2012, we will not be playing his home course, which may elevate his handicap to a 7. Maybe an 8. But see below…
  • “Big Red”…a two-year-old 29er for mountain biking. We need a new nickname for this particular ride, considering its frame is smaller than other 29ers. Maybe its nickname should be “Lapham.”
  • In 2011, we said, “wrestler quickness for basketball.” Based on experience, that is not a strength, its a superpower.
  • Again, we noted in 2011, “wrestler mentality for rock climbing” and we underestimated. Did I mention expectations are high? But….see below…
  • In 2011, we said, “Larry Bird-like competitiveness…and this is the only time he has ever been compared to Larry.” That is still true, but we’ll add now that Lapham has the potential to add Rondo-like competitiveness to his skill set. To be determined…(but unquestionably the only time Lapham will be compared to Rondo, who is, unquestionably, the greatest point guard of our life-times)
  • Father of the next Jozy Altidore…but this may actually be a weakness, as the Race Director is the father of the first female Clint Dempsey. Plus, Lapham has no idea who Altidore is. And the actual Altidore is injured.
  • Finally — and, hey, with expectations this high, you had to expect a lot of strengths — Lapham excels at that mystery special secret most-coveted “wasta”-like  skill of ELLT: tunes, man.

(side comment — and, yes, I’ll throw $1 into the pot for this quasi-political comment….isn’t Lapham’s smile in that picture Romney-like? Second place sucks, doesn’t it?)


  • We’re not going to play Lapham’s home course. Will he bitch and moan prior to the race? Yes. Will he shut-up and play like a Scot for 9 holes on Friday afternoon? Yes. Will he bitch and moan after that the course wasn’t as good as Ould Newbury (the extra “u” paid for by the Byfield Prevention of Vice and Protection of Virtue Society)? Yes. Net – weakness…
  • As noted in 2011, Lapham harbors an “inexplicable hatred for soccer….which was maybe made worse when his team won the event in 2010, then he learned it was an exhibition event only, not counting towards the final standings.” It has to be a weakness to go from the prologue stage (Thursday Night Knot) to the prelim stage (Friday morning soccer) beeatching about corners and red cards and flops and Europeans. Its not the athletic or competitive effort, its the attitude. Yes, by World Cup 2014, I fully expect Eric to embrace The Beautiful Game.
  • Again, as noted in 2011, “father of the next Pedro Martinez…so, yeah, we will be blaming him when the Young Liars start crushing us every year.” But…..but…..Lapham missed 2011, when the father of the next….crap….there is no better pitcher I have ever seen live than Pedro, so let’s revise Lapham and say he is the father of the next Pedroia while this is the next Pedro.
  • Wings…Lapham firmly believes Red Bull gives you wings, even when mixed with vodka. eyah……
  • Reach, height, reach, and height. In 2 of 4 events, Lapham has to overcome other racers’ natural advantages. Maybe this should be a strength, since expectations here are lowered. Yup…lowered.

Past performance: 

In his first year, 2010, Eric Lapham’s soccer team won (although it was an exhibition event and didn’t count for overall scoring), he tied for second on the rocks (with some respectable climbs), crushed the field at golf, and tied for second on the mountain bikes, helped in part by his decision to ride a 1985 Huffy. If his hoops team had been able to at least scoop up third place, he would have medaled in every event. But missing something on the court and tying for second twice kept him slightly behind the overall 2010 champ. He did, however, provide a pool and some generous hospitality on Friday night, as well as music for the 7am soccer matches that morning. And copious amounts of Red Bull.

In 2011, Eric made the smart choice of family over ELLT and missed the triathlon, although he met some of the racers on Sunday when the horde crashed  the Byfield-Newbury All Star Summer Squad game in West Newbury (have I mentioned Lapham lives in Byfield, not Newbury?).

Expectations for 2012:

As noted in 2011, “Eric Lapham would be the undisputed front runner, now that he understands the competition, the individual events, the need to pace oneself, and the need to lobby the Race Director effectively during the events. Lapham would also undisputed-ly bring more hospitality and general helpfulness, which is always good. But even missing 2011 should not lower Lapham’s chances of winning the overall in 2012.” So what’s changed? His competition in every event will be more substantial than in previous years. Ben will challenge him on the rocks. Otto will challenge him on the links (and Shimp will challenge Lapham’s mad math skillz). Lapham’s only should-be-undisputed-win comes on the bikes. And for hoops…it all comes down to basketball. And while Eric has lobbied hard for a Byfield-Newbury Little League team, he may just get that, with a Gus replacing a Marshall. The first three years went to roadies – JP, the Grey Ghost, and Shimp. Lapham has a yoooge shot at making it two locals in a row.