The entire trip out there, you'd swear to God there was no snow to run on, as the entire ride out on Rt. 2 was completely void of snow anywhere. As I made my way up into VT, there was a little snow, but almost no accumulation at all. As close as 5 miles out from Woodford, there was nothing. Literally 10 minutes down the road from the race, things changed drastically, and there was snow everywhere...deep powder and high drifts all over the place. It looked like how a snowshoe racing season is supposed to look! I pulled in the parking lot and was the first racer there (as there were only the volunteers and RD setting up the registration area). Not too long after I registered, DD pulled in, Steve Wolfe and Chris Dunn rolled in, and the other usual suspects all started to appear. DD and I headed off to flag the course (which we do every year) to not only set the course for everyone to know where the heck they are going, but also to scope out the conditions and get a warmup in. We noticed right away how nice and fast the conditions were. It wasn't quite as fast as a groomed trail, but it was pretty packed and there was plenty of snow everywhere. We finished flagging the course and headed back over to the car to change clothes and get over to the line for some last minute strides and preparation. I went with the Inov-8 F-Lite 230s in my Dion 121's and it was a GREAT combination. I felt really fast and light on my feet in the Inov-8s. I love those shoes on the roads and mountains, but Kevin and Ben had been telling me they are great for wearing while snowshoeing, so I gave it a try on the warmup and loved the way they felt. I definitely have my new shoe to clip into the Dions.
The race went out as I kind of expected, with Tivo and myself out front. I went out relatively steady but not crazy fast. The race starts out on a nice flat unplowed road section and then winds up the auto road for a few minutes before dipping left into the woods. My plan was to definitely be in the woods section before anyone else and then just push it on the continuous up and down/rolly sections of single track for the middle couple of miles. The road was pretty well packed, as were the single track sections, which made for a pretty fast ascent up to the single track. As I turned onto the trail and headed into the woods, I was in first by a few seconds, with Tivo next in line. I am not sure who was next, as I didn't look back enough to notice, but it could have been DD.
For the next couple of miles, I pushed along the nicely packed single track section (which was very narrow and twisty at times). I felt very strong and in control (unlike this time last year, where I was severely out of racing shape and struggling the entire race). For a while, I could see Tivo back in second, as his blue shirt stuck out against the whiteout background. Somewhere before halfway was the last time I saw Tim and from that point on, I was motoring, but keeping sure I kept some in the tank in case someone was to challenge me at the end of the race (which is wide open down the auto road once again). I hit halfway in something like 11:30 or so and knew it was going to be a very fast time.
Once around the lake and up the last climb, I hit the exit of the woods and knew I had the win, as I couldn't see anyone else coming from behind and I had a ton left in the tank. Last year on this section, Tivo and I had to blaze all out on the very sloppy snow to try and outkick each other. I came down and to the finish in 20:28 for a new CR (old CR was 21:20 by Paul Low in 2007) and my first 'W' of the 2010-2011 snowshoe season.
Top 10 (CMS in Blue):
DD and I did the course again right after for our cooldown and I milled around a bit, talking with some hearty folks as the temps were dipping down below comfortable. I had some soup and some coffee before hitting the road and beating the impending blizzard that was rolling into the Northeast.
The man, the myth, the legend...Bob Dion...