Monday, March 17, 2014

2014 US Snowshoe Championship

A late blog post about a long weekend of Snowshoe Racing in Vermont.

Mike Galoob recapped the weekend pretty well on his blog and since I did all the same things, you can read his story and I will fill in my thoughts here!

The drive up went by super quick, talking about possible races to put on in RI and RD "war stories".  We went directly to the race site and I was immediately much happier about the course.  After reading and hearing stories of the course from 2 weeks prior, I was not looking forward to running/slogging my way through over an hour on snowshoes.  My least favorite snowshoe race ever was the last time I ran nationals, in 2010, outside of Syracuse, NY.  The course was so torn up that it was a miserable experience!

Fast forward to race day...a beautiful day in VT, blue skies and minimal wind.  The place was hopping, it was a great atmosphere for the race.  We got in a solid warm-up and before you knew it, it was time to get on the line.  I decided to go against all the rules and used a new pair of snowshoes with a pair of shoes I have never worn with snowshoes for this race, the national championship.  I have been racing in the other shoes for 5 years, so why not change it up on the most important race of the year?  All was well and they stayed on my feet throughout the race...whew....

For me it was a tale of two races...UP and DOWN.  I struggled on the ups and ran strong on the downs.  I started to get passed by a boat load of people around 3k into the race on the climb up to the summit, but when Ben Nephew started going by me, I decided to hang on.  This is where my race finally changed for the better, after struggling for about 2k, 2k that felt like 5!  I knew I could hold onto Ben atleast to the top and knew that the course would start coming down from there.  When we hit the top and had a big groomed downhill section, I took advantage and went by Ben.  Now we still had about 5k to go, but it was race time!  Ben and I passed a few people in the single track sections (I FULL RESULTS
used a passing lane once) and Ben then flew by me and one other guy right after the last climb on the course at around 7k.  From there I tried to keep him in sight on the single-track before popping out onto some wide downhill groomed section.  I was able to bridge the gap that Ben put on me on the single-track and went by again, at this point we could now see that we were gaining on some other runners, one of which was Todd Callahan whom passed me on the climb earlier in the race.  I promptly caught and passed Todd and the three of us were now in a race to the finish.  Anytime the course flattened or had a slight uphill the two of them caught up to me, but I was lucky enough to have another downhill in which I went by them again.  With around 300 meters left before taking a left onto the switchback single-track heading down to the finish the three of us were neck and neck.  I put on one last surge to get ahead right before the single-track and was able to hold them off on the last flat/down/up/down section that made up the last 1/4 mile of the course.  It felt good to cross that finish line.  I thought my race went OK, but wished I was able to climb a bit better than I did.  I finished 22nd in the US Championship (27th overall) and 2nd in the 30-34 age group.  See

Day 2...
4x2.5k relay.  I was pretty excited about the relay.  I thought the team we put together of Steve Dowsett, Mike Galoob and myself could do pretty well.  I knew we would be competing against the Central Mass Strider guys, but didn't know how many other teams would be there, or if any of them would be any good.

Day 2

We woke up that morning to a dusting of snow, it was a bit windier than the day before and the sun had disappeared.  We made our way over to Prospect Mountain and we found a good amount of cars already there.  I guess some people would be running the relay after all!

Long story short.  Mike was going to run two legs.  He wanted to only have one leg in between his legs so I thought him going 2nd and last would be best.  I figured nobody would outkick Mike, even on tired legs.  I then figured I would go first, I thought that would be better for me, since I would be able to key off people.

This worked out pretty well.  The gun went off, two guys got out quick and I stayed right on CMS's Kevin Tilton up the first hill then made a move by him and the 2nd place guy before the first single-track section.  We made our way through that and made a 180 degree turn onto a slight downhill groomed section, this is where I moved into first and opened it up. 
I pushed hard on this section knowing the other parts of the course were slow single-track, that is where Kevin would have the advantage.  Well, my plan worked, I was able to hold onto a 10+ second lead going into the second leg.  From that point we kept opening it up.  I ran around the course giving splits and cheering on Steve and Mike.  In the end we beat the team that won the team title the day before in the National Championship and CMS finished in third out of 24 teams.  It was pretty exciting! 

Now just because the relay was over and we were the champions, didn't mean the racing was over, one thing remained...the 80 meter uphill challenge.  We lined up drag racing style and charged up the hill two at a time.  This race ended up being all about getting a good line and staying on your feet.  I got a good line, but did not stay on my feet!  I think I finished in just under 20 second, well outside the top-3 which would receive VT Maple Syrup for their effort.  It was a great way to end a weekend of beating ourselves up on the snow.

After waiting around for a bit and picking up our medals, it was time to head south.  We stopped at the Gardner Ale House on the way home and then proceeded to RI.  For me, that ended a short 3 event snowshoe season.  Now we wait for the snow to melt and get ready for the Brr-lingame 10 Mile Trail Race on March 22nd, the 4th race in the South County 4th Season Trail Race Series.

You can check out Scott Mason's Photo's of the event HERE and there are links to photos and stories on the race website.

Upcoming Races
3/22 - Brr-lingame 10 Mile Trail Race
4/5 - Big River 1/2 Marathon Trail Race
5/11 - The Quahog Mile (RD)