Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kingman Farm Snowshoe Race

Sorry for the once again late post.  I am working on this past weekend's postings but here is the last post from last week's snowshoe racing....

The second race of this past Saturday's 'double' was the night race at Kingman Farm in Madbury, NH.  The Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe race (results) was the 2nd to last race in the Granite State Snowshoe Series and it is definitely a unique event.  The fact that this race starts at 6pm in the pitch dark makes it a snowshoe race like no other.  Headlamps would naturally be required for this one.  I decided to head up and give this one a go, and I would be backing out of the Sunday race instead.  Two races in one day would be enough for me this weekend and I shot out the door after sneaking in a couple hours of sleep between Beaver Brook and this race.

After making a stop in Newington to pickup a new headlamp, I arrived in the parking lot just after the Tiltons and headed over to the registration to meet up with DD. We all decided to head out and do the course over once before the race as a warmup.  I'm glad we did, as it would give us a clear (daytime) view of the layout of the 3.5 mile course, the snow conditions, and the climbs (and descents) we would have to make.  The course was mostly packed pretty well and almost all double wide trail for the first mile or so.  The middle of the course was made up of a large field where the trail would turn to essentially single track cut into the deep snow, and it weaved like a serpent, back and forth over a couple of small hills and across the field in a couple different directions.  Once you were off the field, you crossed a dirt road and started the ascent up the switchback climb that was all single track.  The climb went up and over the hill, back down a little bit, and then cut back up and over again to the top, giving you a false sense of getting to the top before you'd actually have to climb one more time.  Once at the top of the second climb, it was all downhill from there.  It was also entirely single track except for the last 30 or 40 yards or so.  The conditions seemed like it could be fast and we headed back to the town hall for a quick change and then over to the line.

My plan in the race was to go out behind Kevin and let him dictate the pace for as long as possible until I felt good enough to make any moves.  Kevin shot out pretty hard and I immediately settled in behind and held back from my usual start and let him lead.  We got out to a pretty good lead through the double-wide trails as our headlamps were the only light shining on the dark course.  Both of us were constantly scanning for the next set of flags in the darkness.  I would occasionally peek behind me to see how far back the next headlamp was, but you obviously couldn't make out who it actually was.  I stuck right on Kevin's heels and didn't give up any distance as we weaved in and out of trails and ducked under trees.

By a mile and a half, we started the climb up to the field, where the snow conditions went from super fast packed ice to some rough but solid snow.  We hit the field and were still right together as we weaved back and forth with just the moon above us giving a little bit of light.  There was no other lights around and eventually the trail on the field cut back towards where we came in.  At that point, we could see all the lights coming out of the woods, where everyone was starting to hit the trails behind us.  I peered back a few times on the turns and noticed a lone light not too far back 20-30 seconds or so.  It was impossible to see whether it was getting closer, but I focused on keeping right on Kevin's heels until we eventually made our way over to one of the tractor storage buildings that was at the beginning of the trail that would climb up to the only significant hill on the course.

As we hit the woods again, Kevin picked it up and I reacted.  We hit the single track and started the switchback climb.  Fortunately for me the climb wasn't too bad and I was feeling great.  I felt like I had completely recovered from the first 2 miles of the race, once we left the field.  When Kevin and I crested the top of the hill, we both hit the descent hard but it was short lived, as there is one more climb back up to the other side of the hill and across before starting the final drop to the finish.  Near the top of this last climb, I wiped out briefly but bounced right back and caught back up to Kevin before making the final descent.  I started to worry about the finish, as the entire way down was winding single track.  There would be no place to pass.  We both made our way down to the bottom in record time and the last bit of trail was simply single track with zero place to go around in any sort of effective running fashion.  To the  immediate left and right of the trail was deep ,unpacked snow which would just swallow you up and most certainly end your race.  I stayed right behind Kevin and had nothing to do but run for 2nd.  I couldn't possibly yell for him to give me room, as we were both now sprinting for the line.  The last turn on to a doublewide trail is a 90 degree stop and start turn and the short distance to the finish all but guarantees that whoever hits that turn first, will come out on top and that's exactly what happened. Kevin and I just rolled down and finished 1-2, with only 2 seconds separating us.

It was a great race and very fun to be able to run that fast on snowshoes in the dark....the headlamps make it way more exciting, as you really cannot tell where you are going until you are right about to turn.  Kevin ran a very smart and tactical race and I didn't make a move early enough.  Looking back, I should have maybe tried to run my race from the start, but that could have backfired for all I know.  I could have gone out too fast and paid the price later, having many go past me later in the race.  Who knows.  I am happy to have run really strong and to have felt great the whole time.  I was never hurting in this one and am satisfied with the run.  Unfortunately Ryan Kelly, who was that 3rd place headlamp we saw on the field, took a wrong turn later on, as did a bunch of other good masters runners, and most of them ended up having to do an additional climb to get back on course.

Again, CMS had a full team as the necessary 5 guys toed the line...Good stuff!

Top 10 Overall (Plus CMS in blue):

Place Name Age City/State Team Time
1 Kevin Tilton         29 North Conway NH CMS POLAR BEARS       22:51
2 Jim Johnson          33 Salem NH        CMS POLAR BEARS       22:53
3 Danny Ferreia        28 Concord NH      ACIDOTIC RACING       25:35
4 Dave Dunham          46 Bradford MA     CMS POLAR BEARS       25:41
5 Robert Jackman       28 Warwick RI      TUESDAY NIGHT TURTLES 25:46
6 Ryan Welts           30 Glastonbury CT  ACIDOTIC RACING       25:49
7 Ryan Kelly           29 Concord NH      ACIDOTIC RACING       25:57
8 Geoff Cunningham     33 Greenland NH    ACIDOTIC RACING       26:07
9 Reeder Fahnestock    31 Exeter NH       ACIDOTIC RACING       27:36
10 Christoph O'Donnell  32 Cambridge MA  TEAM PSYCHO           28:00
59 Jim Jenkins          56 Worcester MA    CMS POLAR BEARS       40:25
78 George Boudreau      41 Ware MA      CMS POLAR BEARS       50:18

87 Total Finishers.

Cool video (that by now you most likely have already seen)

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