Monday, February 8, 2010

Northfield snowshoe race

Boy, as late as Tuesday it was not looking good for Northfield. I was worried that the race would have to be moved or canceled. Fortunately Bill Gabriel (Northfield) scouted out the trails and assured me we’d be able to race. Ed Alibozek (snow guru) also had scouted out other locations in case we needed to move.

I met up with Paul Bazanchuk on Friday afternoon and with a clear idea of what would be the most usable trails we headed out. We used over 100 flags and a bunch of surveyor tape. The biggest mistake of the day was my bringing a can of spray chalk only to find out that the color I had was white. D’oh.

Left - Happy in my Star Trek t-shirt

We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the snow. The footing would be good; I wouldn’t call it fast because you still had to climb over 700’ to the summit. The 5.3 mile loop featured just over 2 miles to the top of Reservoir road then a fast 3+ mile descent back to the visitor’s center. I guessed that the leaders would climb in about 8 minute pace and descend close to 6 minute pace, which would bring the winner home in about 35 minutes.

On race morning I headed out with some BLACK spray chalk to mark the intersection where the course doubled back (the first and last kilometer covered the same ground in each direction). Thanks to Bill for loaning me the spray paint. The DRC timing and scoring crew showed up and they know their stuff so well that I could now just focus on getting ready for the race. They’d take care of registration/timing and whatever else was needed. I couldn’t have the race without them. Thanks guys!

I got in a nice 3-mile warm-up on the road with Paul and Tim Mahoney, and then changed into my race gear. I let the crew know that the winner would be back in about 35 minutes and I hoped to return in about 40. With a “runners set, and go” we hit the trail.

Below - out like it was a 5km
Ross Krause sprinted out to the lead with Greg Hammett, Justin Fyffe, and Tim Mahoney right behind him. Steve Wolfe was next with me hanging on. The first climb seemed to be super-fast. Since most of the race would be on the wide ski trails there should have been no worry about positioning. It felt like the start of a 5 km road race to me! After about ½ mile I started to settle into a reasonable pace. I passed Steve and could see the top four stretched out in front. Fyffe was still cranking and now had gapped the chasers. Krause and Mahoney were running together with Hammett about ½ way between them. Not much changed on the climb to the single track. I timed Tim and Ross as they entered the single track and I was 18 seconds back.

They seemed to slow a bit on the single track and I started to close the gap. As we were about to exit onto the road Tim yelled out and went down in a heap. I thought he had caught his shin on a tree branch, but found out later that he’d taken a funny step and hyper extended his knee. Ross asked if he was okay as he passed (he may have offered to help him up as well). While this happened I caught up and passed Tim to hit the road in fourth place just a few ticks behind Ross.

My guess on the climb must have been fairly accurate, I hit the top in 18:45 and Justin was way off in the distance, maybe 2 minutes up on me. I lost site of him and Greg as they turned onto the outflow pipe trail. Ross was moving well and he took a look to gauge where I was as he headed off the steep descent. I checked my watch as he headed onto Reservoir road and the gap was now 17 seconds. I also looked for Tim and guessed he was further behind me than I was behind Ross.

The road section is very fast. It had a mix of fast snow and just enough descent to really motor (but not so steep that you have to brake to stay in control). This would also be the last time I’d see the leaders. I was a bit surprised to see that Greg and Justin were running together. Justin is a strong climber and Greg has a lot of speed. The mix was jus right that the tow had an excellent battle. It reminded me of some of the great duels between Paul Low and Richard Bolt back in 2004/2005. They ended up pushing each other right to the line with Justin out kicking Greg in the last 100 meters. The Women’s race also looked to be a close one with Carolyn Stocker beating Granite Stater Amber Cullen by 29 seconds.

Meanwhile not much changed for the rest of the top five. Ross pulled away over the last 1.5 miles after leaving the road. I felt tired and flat most of the way and my foot was killing me on the descents. I was just happy to keep position through the end.

In all we had 73 finishers from 16 different clubs and they ranged in age from 12-80. The DRC had results well in control so Tim and I were able to head right out and sweep the course. Tim broke his shoe during the loop and had to finish in racing flats. I guess that is better than having it fail during the race!

Thanks again to everyone who helped make this race a success. Monies raised will be donated to the Merrimack River trail association for construction of a new bridge on the trail that will open up four more miles of trail for running, hiking, skiing, and snowshoe-ing.

Left - Finishing (both feet off the ground!)

Place Time Name Gend Age Team

1 0:35:45 Justin Fyffe M 29 CMS
2 0:35:47 Greg Hammett M 32 CMS
3 0:37:48 Ross Krause M 30 WMAC/
4 0:38:54 Dave Dunham M 45 CMS/Atlas
5 0:39:31 Tim Mahoney M 30 CMS
6 0:40:03 Steve Wolfe M 45 Acidotic
7 0:40:07 John Pajer M 47 CMS
8 0:40:22 Sean Snow M 43
9 0:40:44 Danny Ferreira M 27 Acidotic
10 0:41:15 Kurt Gustafson M 25 Nordic TC

No comments: