Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sidehiller


Sorry for the delay in this post due to some intense wisdom tooth pain and all 4 being extracted on Tuesday, I have been unable to post on this race until now...This past Saturday was race # 7 in the WMAC/Dion Series AND race # 4 in the GSSS series.  Sidehiller (results) is the only race that is part of both major New England snowshoe series' and it is also the
Northeast Qualifier for the US Nationals in March up in Syracuse, NY.

I was second here last year (to Mr. Tilton).  I led the entire way and was overtaken by Kevin about a half mile or so from the finish and lost by 14 or so seconds.  It was his 3rd straight Sidehiller victory and our only matchup on the snow last year.  I decided (as did Kevin) not to go to Nationals after that race last year, which was out in Oregon.  This year, it was was our plan (all of us at CMS basically) to go to Nationals, as it is in the East (Syracuse, NY).  So needless to say it was pretty loaded up in Center Sandwich, NH this year, with essentially all the big guns less TiVo, Tim Mahoney, and Geoff Cunningham (who gave me the above photo), who all sat this one out.  I know Tim and TiVo are planning on running another qualifier soon.  Even the elusive Eric Morse (who has been battling injury and barely running as of late) and Dave Quintal (who joined me on the way up) came out for this one.

As we arrived up in Center Sandwich, NH, we noticed that Paul Kirsch (RD) had mapped out a newer version of the course, which only stayed on the fairgrounds and didn't cross the road onto the single-track and up the nice windy hills up to the fields, due to lack of snow in the woods.  That made for a VERY fast race for sure and it really does level out the playing field quite a bit.  While some strive on the hills and need them to stay close, most can rock out on a flat, groomed course which makes for a much heavier and tighter race up front.  Initially I figured it was going to be a trackmeet and by looking at the names in the results, it turned out to be just that.

I warmed up on the roads through Center Sandwich (as we did last year) w/ DD, Jim Pawlicki, Dave Quintal, Eric Morse, and a couple of the TNT guys including Bob Jackman and Scotty Mason.  When we returned, I saw Kevin Tilton, Peter Mallett, Josh Ferenc, and Ben Nephew all ready to go and I knew it was going to be an insanely fast 5.2 mile (new distance) race.  After dressing appropriately (only about 10 degrees F outside at race time, with some wind), I made my way over to Bob Dion to swap out my busted Deep Cleats for a pair of Ice Cleats.  When the newly reinforced Deep Cleat model is released, I'll pick up another pair of those for deep, powdery days.  For now, I'll stick to the Ice because I've broken 5 cleats already this year.  The ice one's are a little heavier, aren't quite as deep (claw-wise) but don't really break...they just bend a little.

I lined up on the line next to Kevin, Pete, and Charlie Therriault (acidotic), who is a very speedy track/road/xc guy that is transitioning over to snowshoe...great to see.  The race went off and we were all out pretty quick.  I was in about 2nd place for the first 200 - 300 meters before the course took a very sharp right hand turn through a fence.  Right after that turn, there is a little dip down and around a gully that was all iced over.  I didn't have time to get around it, and at the last minute tried to go over it.  I didn't make it and punched right through the ice and into a ton of water and mud.  I went head over heels and right down on my face, spraying up mud all over myself and Josh Ferenc who was right behind me.  He shouted to see if I was ok as he blew past, and I got up just before getting run over by the train of folks behind me.  Ben was now right beside me and told me to relax, which kept me from charging up to the front right away.  I waited a bit, gathered my bearings and made my way up slowly back to within range of Josh and Kevin, having to pass Charlie on the way.  Mentally, I was kind of out of it at that point and because there was virtually no hills, I just wasn't feeling the race.  I didn't feel competitive and was just going through the motions.  I started to almost feel raced out just a bit, but knew I had to keep plugging.  There were 2 sections of single track on the course, that made it just a little tougher, but not really enough to separate out the field any.

As I came though the first lap (of 3), I was in 4th behind Kevin, Josh, and Pete Mallett (CMS) who were all running strong.  Pete did the same thing to me that he did at Topsfield XC last October...he ran with me for a little bit on the latter parts of the first loop and then screwed past me just before the end of the first loop and it looked like he was making a charge for the lead.  I offered him some words of encouragement and he took off.  The second loop was me running in 4th place for the whole time, while putting distance on Ben and Charlie and Bob (which I was amazed I was still doing, running as uneventfully as I was)...

By the third loop, I started to run up on Pete and passed him near the entrance of the last single track.  All the while, we weren't TOO far behind Josh, but Kevin had put some very good distance on everyone as he looked incredibly strong and smooth up front.  By the end of the second single track section on the third loop (and after having to bob and weave through a ton of lapped runners), I was right behind Josh and thought I was going to have a chance at second.  In retrospect, I should have just made a charge and gone and got him, as it appeared as though he was starting to labor a bit...looking back and just not looking like the Josh Ferenc I've seen in the past.  With about a quarter mile to go, you switch back on the field and he got to see just where I was (only a few ticks behind him) and that was enough to light one last fire under his arse and he held me off at the end.

I tied my worst place finish at a snowshoe race, which is 3rd, so really it ain't all that bad.  It was a VERY solid field and if I had to pick the two guys who would have beaten me on any given day, it would have been Kevin and Josh... so I was pretty content with the way it went down.  Overall, CMS had a fantastic day, even without the likes of a Justin Fyffe (who you'd have to think would have been in the top 2), Tim VanOrden (who would have been either right in front of me or right behind me), and Tim Mahoney, who is always top 5 material, if not a favorite.  Without those guys and Al Bernier (who ran this last year and has been running very well indoors this year), we still put 10 CMS guys in the top 20 (with 6 in the top 10).

Very good Photoset by Jamie Gemmiti can be viewed here (with images for sale).  I used the immediate top 2 photos from Jamie's photoset.

Sidehiller 5.2 Mile Snowshoe Race

Sandwich, NH, January 30, 2010

Place
First
Last
City
State
Age
Team Name
MM
SS
1
Kevin
Tilton
Conway
NH
28
CMS/Inov-8
31
8
2
Josh
Ferenc
Alstead
NH
28
BAA
31
20
3
Jim
Johnson
Salem
NH
32
CMS/Inov-8
31
25
4
Peter
Mallett
Manchester
NH
26
CMS
31
47
5
Charles
Therriault
Newmarket
NH
24
Acidotic
32
12
6
Ben
Nephew
Mansfield
MA
34
CMS/Inov-8
32
32
7
Bob
Jackman
Warwick
RI
27
TNT
33
25
8
Tim
Cox
Northwood
NH
36
Acidotic/CMS
33
44
9
Danny
Ferriera
Concord
NH
27
Acidotic
34
1
10
Dave
Dunham
Ward Hill
MA
45
CMS/Atlas
34
4
11
Steve
Wolfe
Merrimack
NH
45
Acidotic
34
5
12
Eric
Morse
Berlin
VT
44
CMS
34
44
13
Jim
Pawlicki
Beverly
MA
35
CMS
34
51
14
David
Principe
Cranston
RI
43
TNT
35
3
15
Stan
Snow
Dunbarton
VT
43
GSRT
35
5
16
Dave
Quintal
Salem
NH
46
CMS
35
33
17
John
Pajer
Leicester
MA
47
CMS
36
5
18
Reeder
Fahnestock
Exeter
NH
30
Acidotic
36
15
19
Chris
Dunn
Strafford
NH
41
Acidotic
36
35
20
Kurt
Gustafson
Shrewsbury
MA
25
Nordica TC
36
47

91 Total Finishers.

After the race, Josh, Ben, Kevin, Pete, and I all did a cooldown over the course (1 lap) and then headed over to grab some coffee at the local joint there in the center of town.  My tooth was starting to kill and that's all I could think about, which made for a pretty crummy afterparty and ride home.

This week, I was planning (initially) on the Northfield / Saratoga double (WMAC/DION) (but they were just too far and I wasn't feeling another trip this weekend), but then I changed my mind and was going to do the Exeter Snowshoe Hullabaloo (GSSS) on Saturday and then the Cape Elizabet 10 Miler on Sunday, but the Exeter race has been POSTPONED until 2/27, and the 10 Miler was just a last minute thing ....both are out now because of my surgery on Tuesday, which is kind perfect.  I think the Saratoga race is going to be a trail race anyways, and the conditions at Northfield are still suspect and up in the air.... so this is going to be a down week and weekend for me.  I will be back in action next weekend at Horsehill and Frostys (GSSS).

Good luck to all who will be racing this weekend!

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