Saturday, February 12, 2011

Exeter Snowshoe Hullabaloo

Again, late with the posting... sorry about that... Last Saturday I raced up in Exeter, NH at the Exeter Snowshoe Hullabaloo (results) put on by acidotic Racing's Ri Fahnestock and Sarah Silverberg.  This was another event in the Granite State Snowshoe Series for 2011.  Last year, this event was cancelled due to no snow.  This year, if you live in the northeast, you know that we do not have that problem right now.

I headed up to my only race of the weekend and was glad to only have to drive about 40 minutes to get there.  The temps were pretty chilly and the course was described as 'all single track' and yep, that was dead-on-balls accurate.  I pulled into the parking lot just outside of the trailhead at the Henderson-Swasey Town Forest and saw all the usual faces already there.  The TNT crew, acidotic crew in full force, and the rest of the usual suspects.  Quick guys like Tim Cox, Ryan Kelly, Wes Dinnan, Geoff Cunningham, Bob Jackman, Danny Ferreria-Cullen, and Ryan Welts were all in the house.  I knew it was going to be anyone's game, especially with 100% of the course being single track... There was absolutely nothing else but single track.  The starting line and finish line were on single track.  And the single track was deceiving to boot.  Only the very middle of the single track was solid enough to not break through.  The very edges of the single track were basically post-hole generators and really dangerous.  The edges of the snowbanks along the single track were pretty high and clipping of the snowshoes on the edges was going to be another problem the runners would have to deal with.  Lastly, this was a bruiser of an up and down affair with very little flat sections.  It was a great old-school type of snowshoe race and with all the above included, it was going to be anything but predictable results.

I warmed up with the large Turtle contingent over the roads along route 27 and didn't feel that great...but then again, I kind of feel the same before every race, so I wasn't thinking too much about it.  After I got back, I changed, got my snowshoes on, and headed out on the course to check it out.  I proceeded to break through all over the place and realized it was going to be a messy, slow, and tough slog on what 'appeared' to be a nice, fast, packed course (visually).  As we all lined up, the guys graciously gave me the front (I 'think' there was enough for two to line up at the start) and off we went.

I immediately headed out front and proceeded to focus intently on staying right in the middle of the trail without leaning too far to the left or the right, but that was easier said than done.  I would hit a little of the side and punch right through.  It got tiring after a while, but I pushed on up the trail and hit the constant ups and downs, winding trails, switchbacks, and tree dodging.  It didn't take too long before I could no longer hear the footfalls of the pack. I think for a little bit that Geoff was leading the pack (at least he was the last time I turned to look).  I was OK through a mile or so, but on my second mile I started to labor a bit, as the trail conditions were just really starting to tire my legs out.  I probably had the easiest time out of anyone too, because I had no one to slow me down and no one to try to pass.

Somewhere around 17 or 18 minutes I started to get VERY tired and found my pace slowing big time. I was at an almost walk at the tops of some of the climbs and occasionally still almost wiping out and faceplanting after postholing through on the sides of the trail.  I kept looking back and was very concerned that I was blowing my lead at this point but could still not see anyone behind.  I knew it was probably going to be Wes next, as that kid is a stud on the track and in XC.  It's only a matter of time before he gets used to the snowshoes...  One interesting thing happened about 3 miles in.  I will spare everyone the rant and not really even get too much into my opinion on BREAKING THE LAW and letting your DAMN STINKY DOG run OFF LEASH, but as I came up the trail on a decent incline, there were a couple walking in the woods.  They had their dog who OBVIOUSLY likes to run and jump on people (I could care less if the dog is 'friendly', keep him/her the F away from me if they are going to jump up in my grill). The dog was off leash obviously (I mean, why on Earth would anyone actually leash their dog in a public town forest right? sarcastic). As I came up the trail, the guy said 'are you in the race?'.  It's understandable I know, since I was hauling ass, and had my race number on my front in clearview (again, sarcasm here), and was heading straight for them.  I said 'yes'.  So they moved over to the side, which I appreciated, but the dog wasn't as courteous and bolted down the trail and straight for me.  It was like a game of chicken.  Just as I was about to run him down, he actually jumped up at me and I caught him in midair.  In one, quick motion I caught him and chucked him aside into the deep snow to the right and didn't miss a step.  I The dog disappeared into the deep snow out of the corner of my eye.  I heard the guy yell at the dog (awe, that was really kind of him..but a little too late) and then yell up that the dog, who was apparently chasing me.  I didn't even look back and was expecting to have the thing come at me from behind, but he didn't, and must have changed his mind and stopped.  I was thankful that it wasn't worse than it was.  I obviously don't want to hurt the poor dog, as it's not his fault that he's off leash, but I also don't want my race F-ed with because some clown decides to walk his dog offleash and put other people in danger.  It's just plain reckless and disrespectful to others, especially when there is a race going on.  OK, I am done with that.

As I pushed on I really wasn't sure where I was on the course for almost the entire way, but once I got back to the main intersection I had run over before the race began, I knew I only had about a quarter mile or so to go, so I started to feel confident for the first time all race that I was going to pull this one out.  I came down and through the finish in 37:27 and was exhausted.  It was a classic snowshoe race for sure and interesting to say the least.

Top 10 (CMS in blue)

Place Time Name Team Age Town/State
1 37:27 Jim Johnson         CMS                     33 Salem NH     
2 39:18 Wesley Dinman                               23 Newmarket NH 
3 40:20 Geoff Cunningham    ACIDOTIC RACING         33              
4 41:15 Tim Cox             ACIDOTIC RACING         37 Northwood NH 
5 41:55 Danny Ferreira      ACIDOTIC RACING         28              
6 42:10 Ryan Kelly          ACIDOTIC RACING         29 Concord NH   
7 43:05 Robert Jackman      TUESDAY NIGHT TURTLES   28 Warwick RI   
8 43:07 Ryan Welts          ACIDOTIC RACING         30              
9 45:17 David Principe Sr   TUESDAY NIGHT TURTLES   44 Cranston RI  
10 45:57 Giant Parlin        TRAIL MONSTER RUNNING   35 Falmouth MA  

97 Total Finishers.

After finishing and talking to the group of top guys, it was apparent that the dog actually messed with a few others as well.  I don't consider myself to be a rocket scientist or anything, but common courtesy and common sense to me would have made me leash my out of control animal and pull him/her off the course after the first time...but apparently that didn't happen and the dog was having a field day with the racers.

I did a cooldown with Tim Cox and one of his athletes at Coe Brown after the race and bonked pretty hard.  I got back to the parking lot and stuffed my face with some good chili and soup, won some Redhook beer, and then hit the bricks for home.  A good, difficult, classic race put on by some good folks.

That's all I got... (remember when Ryan Cararra used to blog?).

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