Sunday, December 13, 2009

Beaver Brook 5k Winter Edition Snowshoe Race



Sunday was a last minute decision to over at Beaver Brook in Hollis, NH.  I initially planned on running this race when it was advertised as the usual 5k trail race, put on by Mike Amarello and 3CRaceProductions....but after the last couple weeks of non-eventful training and my hamstring woahs, I was backing away from this race and had decided to not race again until Woodford.  But Friday night I caught wind that this race would also be a snowshoe event, because of all the snow that was now covering the trails at Beaver Brook.  After some decision making last night and early this morning actually, I decided to shoot on over and get in my first snowshoe race of the 2009-2010 season a tad early.  It would also be race # 62 of the year!


The Beaver Brook 5k (Winter Edition) (results) was actually 2 races this year.  The regular scheduled trail race, which included 54 people who would run the course in regular running shoes, and a snowshoe race (27 people), which started 1 minute behind the trail race (and had a slightly different beginning 150 meters or so).

As I pulled into the Beaver Brook Association hq, I noticed a lot of the usual trail/snowshoe suspects including the acidotic crew there in full force.  I met up with Scotty Graham, Chris Dunn, and Geoff Cunningham (pictured above w/ yours truly) and went out for a warmup with Chris and Geoff about 35 minutes before race time.  This was the first time I've met Geoff, who has been laid up most of the last year + with injury.  He was the 2008 GSSS Champion and wasn't able to make any of the races last year, but is on the comeback for 2010.  On the warmup, we were also joined by Garry Harrington who ended up winning the 'trail' version of the race today.  It was nice talkin' snowshoeing with Chris and crew again... It was the motivation I needed to get my act together and get back on the serious training schedule again....The November/December funk is coming to an end and the fun stuff is starting (finally)!

A relatively modest bunch of us headed down to the start of the snowshoe portion of the race, which was at the beginning of a small field where you had to run uphill to the start, and then make a sharp 180 degree turn and get onto the actual trail.  Once on the trail, it is a fairly wide carriage road type of course that is downhill for the first quarter mile or so.  As the gun went off (a minute or so behind the trail race start), we all slogged up the hill and across the field.  There was only a single track of snow packed down, and the rest was a crusty, icey mess. I didn't get on any of the good packed snow before the end of the field.   I took the turn onto the trail in 3rd place actually, behind Geoff and one other runner, before settling into 2nd behind Geoff shortly there after.  It didn't take the two of us long to catch the back of the pack trail runners and it was a tough next 2/3rds of the race, as we had to continuously go off the thinly blazed section of the trail (which was about as wide as a snowmobile track, and go wide around everyone, on the crusy, unpacked, icey snow.  It made the pace very slow initially.  I ran very comfortable behind Geoff even though we had to run off the actual groomed section for most of the way.  I got a little nervous that the pace was a bit slower than I was expecting, and I didn't want it to come down to a kick between the two of us, nor did I want to give anyone behind us, a chance to catch up.  Geoff twisted his ankle in an icey rut and started to feel it before the halfway mark.  As we hit the turnaround (yes, it is an out and back), I circled back behind Geoff and then moved out and around him for the first time.  I told him I was going to take the lead for a bit and put in the work and blaze the trail on the way back... It wasn't too long after that, that I no longer heard his snowshoe footfalls any longer and knew I'd probably be able to squeak this one out.  I continued to pass runners now in two directions (the packs of trail and snowshoe runners behind me, still on their way outbound, and some of the faster trail runners now still ahead of me on the way back).  The last quarter mile + is uphill to the finish and this is where I passed the 3rd and 2nd place trail runners.  As I passed by the 2nd place guy, he told me that the first place guy was just ahead and I tried to push up to catch him but there was not enough real-estate left on the course to get him.  I finished first overall for the snowshoe race, just behind the first trail runner, but still had the fastest overall time, as we started a minute back of the trail race.  It was a great feeling getting out there and shaking the dust off the snowshoes for sure.



This course will be the scene of the first race in the 2010 Granite State Snowshoe Series (The Beaver Brook 5k Snowshoe Race) put on by acidotic Racing.  The race is scheduled for January 2nd and will be the middle race of my 3 race weekend, (Hangover Classic, Beaver Brook, North Pond) which is a great start to the new year's racing schedule :).



Special thanks to Nancy Hobbs (USATF Profile | Blog) for signing the book I won (she was co-author and standing right next to me when I picked it off the table of swag).  :)



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