My first snowshoe race was the 1999 Hawley Kiln 7 mile. I ventured back last weekend for my ninth attempt at the course, which is now a shorter (4.6 mile) version. Nine times for the same race is the most I’ve done for any snowshoe race and this ranks #7 on my list of races I’ve raced the most.
This would be my first snowshoe race in a month that wasn’t part of a double-race-weekend or a weekend when I race directed. I expected to feel fresh. I also decided that I was due for a rest week after four weeks of 70+ and a week of 80+ miles. I took it very easy all week leading up to the Kiln and hoped it would pay off.
Dan joined me for the 2:30 drive because we’d be heading out right after for the 50km national championships in NY the next day (I was working at the race as the USATF liaison). I checked in with Ken Clark to hear about trail conditions and he mentioned that it looked pretty firm but not super-fast. I hooked up with Tim Mahoney and Dan and we headed out for a nice easy 3 mile road run warm-up. After that I headed to the Kiln to take in the mystic qualities, I also drank the last of the Moody Springs healing water that Ed Alibozek had given me. I couldn’t have been more ready to race J Before the start I talked a bit with Ed to find out about snow on the single track and figure out a strategy. I had won the race a couple of years ago by getting to the single-track first and building my lead from there. I wasn’t sure I had the speed to out-leg Tim and Ross Krause over the first 7/10ths of a mile on the snowmobile trail. Ed suggested I go with how I felt, which is always good advice.
We headed off on the snowmobile trail which was very wide. That makes passing easy and cuts down on the number of people sprinting out like mad. I was near the front trailing Tim and Ross and alongside Chris Taft (who is having an excellent season) as we headed up the road. Ross got a bit confused at the Kiln and almost went the wrong way around the tree which would have brought him straight back into oncoming traffic. He corrected but lost a few steps and that put me in front. Tim and Ross both got right on my tail and I felt good enough that I surged on the uphill and got a couple of steps lead. I hit the single-track with just in front and listening to Chris’ squeaky shoes fall back a bit. I also could hear Ross and Tim say something about how I was not breaking through the crust. I found that for a lot of the first two miles I would not punch through if I stayed out of the tracks. The slightly heavier guys were punching through constantly.
By the time I hit the 2 mile mark (16:31) I was out in front alone. Now I was running scared. Did I go out too hard? Were they closing on me? Could I hold the lead? I tried to run as fast as I dared, knowing the climb ahead and the fast last 7/10ths. I could picture Ross and Tim closing on me and passing me when we hit the snowmobile trail. A 9:46 mile from 2 to 3 didn’t add confidence but a little later I hit the snowmobile road junction and looked back. I guessed I could see at least 30 seconds and no one was in sight. I pushed the rest of the road hoping I was out of site from my pursuers. I looked back at the turn back onto single-track and couldn’t see anyone. Maybe I’d sneak out a win? Maybe I’d slow to a crawl? Maybe I’d bonk and everyone would go by?
I was surprised how quickly the four-mile mark came in to sight and figured that Ed hung it early, but then I came out on the snowmobile trail and knew I was almost done. I accelerated on the downhill imagining that everyone behind me was closing fast (that wouldn’t be surprising, Chris ran nearly 2 minutes faster than me for the last mile a week ago). So I kept working right through the finish line. I was surprised and happy to pick up my 20th all-time WMAC victory and my third at Hawley Kiln. Ross came in soon after with Tim and Chris not far behind. Abby cracked the top 10 with a fine 8th place finish.
We headed back out on the course to cheer people in then did another mile on the road before closing out the day with a 200 mile drive to New York. This closes the book on the WMAC season for me. I ran 9 of the possible 17 races (so far). Next weekend I’ll end the snowshoe season with a trip up north for the NH series. This has been one heck of a year for snowshoe racing. It wouldn’t have happened without all of the hard work of the race directors and volunteers who’ve been out there putting these events on. Thanks to you all!
Hawley Kiln 4.6 mile snowshoe race
Hawley, MA, March 5, 2011
1 39:18 Dave Dunham M46 CMS 40+
2 40:44 Ross Krause M31
3 1:27 Tim Mahoney M31 CMS
4 42:11 Chris Taft M30
5 44:16 Connor Devine M17
6 45:22 Brian Northan M36
7 45:42 Mike Townsley M42
8 46:19 Abby Mahoney F32 CMS
9 46:24 Ken Clark M48
10:46:52 Steve Wolff M46
Most raced races
1 Mt Washington road race Gorham, NH from 1988-2010 – 21 times raced
2 Wachusett Mountain Westminster, MA from 1995-2010 – 15 times raced
3 Pack Monadnock Wilton, MA from 1992-2010 – 13 times raced
4t Merrimack River trail Andover, MA from 1995-2008 – 10 times raced
4t Yankee Homecoming Newburyport, MA from 1985-2008 – 10 times raced
4t Rotary race Bedford, NH either 5/12K distance from 1994-2009 – 10 times raced
7t Hawley Kiln Hawley, MA various distances from 1999-2011 – 9 times raced
7t Carson Memorial Chelmsford, MA 2 mile road race from 1984-2006 – 9 times raced
7t Mt Kearsarge Warner, NH from 1995-2005 – 9 times race (sadly the race is defunct)