Monday, March 15, 2010

NH state snowshoe championships

I headed up for the final race in the NH series in the pouring rain. It didn’t look like there was much snow on the ground as I made my way north. The precipitation turned to snow just after I passed Jackson and the countryside was also a lot snowier as I gained altitude. It was a bit slow going down to Great Glen but I’d left so early I was still among the first to arrive.

After registering and chatting with RD Chris Dunn and timer/racer Richie Blake I settled in on the window couch and napped for a bit. I felt totally beat from lack of sleep, my head cold had me stuffed up whenever my head hit the pillow so I was missing out on any decent sleep. I couldn’t decide whether to walk around for a warm-up or do a run. JJ and Kevin both seemed to be running late and not all that interested in a warm-up. When they mentioned a 10 minute run I was surprised. That seemed pretty much ideal. We headed out and did part of the course. The track was firm and groomed but there was 2-4” of fresh snow and it was still snowing pretty heavily.

We cut things pretty close and everyone was heading to the line as we headed back to the building to get into race gear. I was already dressed to race so I headed right back down after ditching my sweatshirt. I felt pretty beat heading to the start and was kind of dreading 6.2 miles of snowshoe racing with my “long” run over the last couple of weeks being only 5 miles. My plan was to be conservative the first “flat” 5km then hope that my strength on the climb would move me up in the second 5km.

The field was pretty small (34) probably because of the nasty weather, but conditions were great for racing. JJ and Kevin took off quickly to the front with Geoff Cunningham in tow for the early going. I hoped to keep Chris Dunn in site and focused on him in the early going. I was in 15th place by the mile and working harder than I had hoped. The flat 5km was actually pretty rolling and I didn’t feel very strong on the climbs. It took me nearly a mile to get past Amber Ferreira. By two miles I’d caught up to Chris and was sitting in 11th place. Fourth and fifth place (David Principe & Kurt Gustafson) weren’t too far ahead and Steve Wolfe was right behind them. I caught and ran with Danny Ferriera before three miles and we ran side by side for a while and it seemed like we were gaining on the guys in front of us.

I checked my watch at the tunnel under Route 16, which was approximately 5km into the race, and was 23:33. I had guessed it would take about 60 minutes to cover this 10km and it looked like I wouldn’t be that far off. The climbing started with a vengeance. I caught Wolfie just as he stepped on his own snowshoe and did a face plant. I tried to pat him on the back (to encourage him) but I may have been a bit forceful and pushed him down further (I hope not). I was definitely feeling better as we shifted into low gear and started climbing. I knew we had a good 400’ of climb in the next 2Km and wanted to work it. I don’t have any speed right now (and not great endurance) but I still love to climb.

I passed Principe and Gustafson soon after passing Wolfie. The climb was tough but the footing wasn’t bad and on the long straights I could see Geoff Cunningham up ahead. I was surprised when 10:47 seconds into the climb a gent on the trail noted “you’re at the top”. I couldn’t believe we were done climbing, had I studied the map a little better I would have know that the big climb was over but there would be a couple of “little” climbs to do before we were done. It was fun bombing down the hill and watching where the tracks went. It seemed that the leaders were zigging and zagging, every once in a while I’d see that Geoff went straight (it was a very wide trail). Even in snowshoe racing tangents can be important.

The last couple of Kilometers were tough with some short climbs, even when you got back to route 16 you had a big climb back up to the stage building. I was pretty beat on that last climb. I could see Geoff up ahead but was now looking back to make sure I wouldn’t get caught. It wasn’t pretty but I ran as hard as I could and was pretty exhausted when I cross the line in fourth in 51:38. Kevin and JJ finished in a dead heat with both of them not giving an inch to the other and actually diving across the line in 46:14. Pretty cool way to end the NH series for this year!

1 Kevin Tilton 46:14 CMS
2 Jim Johnson 46:14 CMS
3 Geoff Cunningham 50:49 Acidotic
4 DD 51:38 CMS 40+
5 David Pricipe 52:12 TNT 40+
6 Kurt Gustafson 52:17 Nordica
7 Steve Wolfe 52:53 Acidotic 40+
8 Danny Ferriera 53:06 Acidotic
9 Chris Dunn 53:56 Acidotic 40+
10 Brendan Sullivan 55:23 40+

Pictures by Scott Mason .  Thanks Scott!

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