Friday, February 25, 2011

Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race

This past Saturday was the first race of my Saturday double-header.  It was also originally going to be race 1 of 3 for the weekend, but I just wasn't feeling it mentally when I showed up to Beaver Brook in Hollis, NH for the Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race (results), so I decided right before the race that I'd only be doing 2 races this weekend and it would be a toss up between the night race in Madbury, and the WMAC race out in West Hawley, MA on Sunday.  But first, I needed to try to take care of business in Hollis, where I'd have my hands full with the usual slew of good, fast GSSS guys + Ben Nephew (CMS/Inov-8) who pulled in right before I was going out on my warmup.

I took in some intel from Steve Wolfe about the course (which he laid out).  The course was all new this year, with mostly single track/double wide trails that would be a stark contrast to last year's straight out and back track meet.  This year, the trails were narrow, winding, icy, and unstable. You had to stay right the middle of the trail or you were punching through.  I made the mistake of going for the warmup in regular trail shoes and not my Dions, which was a nightmare.  I was all over the place and postholing most of the way.  On the downs, I would have to go off the trail a bit and punch through the snow so I would at least stay on my feet (as the single track trail was solid ice).  The first of two decent climbs in the course was on a wide snowmobile trail/road but didn't last too long. The second climb was single track, straight up.  In the middle of the two, there was a ridge that was on the side of an easy 100 foot drop straight down, and it was all ice.  Pretty dangerous section for sure.  I was glad I got to see the course and knew what I was in for beforehand. I headed back to change into the Dion 121s and was over to the line to do some strides.

As the race began, I shot out pretty hard, so I could get to the single track first (which was probably 100 meters down the wide trail at the beginning of the race).  I hit the single track and attempted to stay right in the middle of the trail, as to not sink down and wipe out on the sides.  I noticed the world of difference between having trail shoes and snowshoes on, right away.  The snowshoes were doing their job and keeping me on top of the snow for the most part.  I had a little more freedom to move from side to side with the snowshoes on.  For the first half mile or so, I could see Ben Nephew behind me, not too far back.  I kept plugging on, knowing that he and Ryan Kelly would be battling and it could be a matter of time before one or both of them was pulling up behind me if I wasn't focused.

The windy single track section over the first half of the course was really difficult in spots, to run fast without grabbing onto small trees to whip yourself back down onto the trail.  It was also easy for me to blow right past a turn, which I did quickly on a couple of occasions.  During this section (that had a lot of downhill), I was able to put some distance on everyone during this section and couldn't seen anyone back when I'd peer through the woods.  This would change when I got back out onto the flat, long snowmobile stretch in the middle of the race, before the first major climb.

Once I got out onto that long straight section, I looked back right before it hooked right and went up the hill and I saw Ryan Kelley not too far back.  He was definitely catching me and I had a moment of imagining a 2nd or 3rd place finish when it was all said and done.  I hit the climb and worked it OK but didn't feel like I was killing it.  I felt decent, but as soon as I hit the top, the trail cut up to the right and got pretty sloppy and unstable.  I wiped out once right after the top of the climb and then stumbled all over the place during that section.  I was thinking for sure that it was going to be the same for everyone though and just tried to get through it as best I could.

After the initial climb and unstable singletrack and a small open clearing section, the trail cut back in and went along that ridge I mentioned earlier.  I ran this part a little on the cautious side and then bombed the downhill.  On the last downhill section, right before the last singletrack section of climb, I crossed up my stride, stepped on my own snowshoes, and went face down into the snow.  My hands punched through up to my elbows.  For a brief moment I was stunned and then just had to let out a small chuckle as I thought to myself 'this is snowshoeing for ya'....  I got back up and started from a standstill, up the last significant climb on the course.  The whole time I was just waiting for Ryan to start running me down and kept looking back as I'd take turns.   Eventually I could see some of the buildings and knew I was close.  I came out onto the last straightaway section and powered my way up to the finish in 20:21.  For a small moment before the last section, I thought to myself that I could maybe break 20, but it wasn't to be. This course turned out to be about 3.3 miles, so I was happy with the time for sure, and also with the ability to hold off Ryan and Ben.

Top 10 (plus CMS) in blue.

Place Name Age City/State Team Time Pace
1 Jim Johnson     33 Salem NH        CMS POLAR BEARS         20:21 6:33
2 Ryan Kelly      29 Concord NH      ACIDOTIC RACING         21:18 6:51
3 Ben Nephew      35 Mansfield MA    CMS POLAR BEARS         21:51 7:02
4 Ryan Welts      30 Glastonbury CT  ACIDOTIC RACING         23:01 7:24
5 Danny Ferreira  28 Concord NH      ACIDOTIC RACING         23:14 7:29
6 David Principe  44 Cranston RI     TUESDAY NIGHT TURTLES   23:41 7:37
7 John Pajer      48 Leister MA      CMS POLAR BEARS         23:44 7:38
8 Steve Wolfe     46 Merrimack NH    ACIDOTIC RACING         24:29 7:53
9 Robert Jackman  28 Warwick RI      TUESDAY NIGHT TURTLES   24:32 7:53
10 Michael Wade    42 Nashua NH   GATE CITY STRIDERS      25:20 8:09
28 Jim Grady          49 Auburn MA     CMS POLAR BEARS 30:13  9:43
29 Sean Blood         40 Worcester MA  CMS POLAR BEARS 30:14  9:44
58 Jim Jenkins        56 Worcester MA  CMS POLAR BEARS 36:40 11:48
78 George Boudreau Jr 41 Weare MA      CMS POLAR BEARS 43:06 13:52

On another good note, I was pleased to see a HUGE CMS contingent at the race (considering we basically never have a full 'team' at these races)....There were 7 of us there, which was plenty to get a score for the Northeast Snowshoe Federation Standings.

After the race, I cooled down with Danny, Amber, and Ryan over the course again and then headed back for the awards and then I hit the road to go home and try to get some rest before the Madbury race, which I was still kind of on the fence about.

Additional Photos by Gianina Lindsey 

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