|Eric Narcisi, JJ, and Scott Mitchell|
The weather was more suited for a Whitaker race (in the single digits) than anything else, but it was the place to be this weekend for NH snowshoeing. There was beautiful bright sunshine and clear skies but it was as cold as you can expect. After a relatively short warmup on the roads around the golf course with Eric Narcisi, I ended up strapping on the Dions for a few strides at the start of the course. The race was held at the Nippo Lake Golf Course which is as hilly of a golf course as I've seen. I was pretty amazed at the drop in the first mile and the climbs during the second. The course was sprawling on both sides of the street with snow shoveled onto the road a-la Sidehiller to cross from one side of the course to the other.
The race started off on a nice downhill and after only a few steps I felt multiple places in my right leg start to ache. I was very nervous on the way down, that pounding and off-camber running would irritate it to the breaking point (on pun intended). I settled in at the bottom with Eric pretty close behind. I felt a little gassed as we started to weave all over the lower part of the course but the main reason I think is because of the snow conditions. It was loose snow a couple inches deep that you were constantly mixing up and crunching through if you weren't lucky enough to step right in some previous snowshoe tracks from the people setting the course. Very little of the course was completely without some sort of slow patches of loose or slightly deeper snow so it was slow going in spots but OK in others. Overall it was in the middle as far as conditions go. If you were used to groomed trails, this one felt a little tough.
The wind had blown some parts of the course bare and piled deeper snow in others. The second mile featured a nice long climb back up to the top near the clubhouse. It was actually 2 climbs with a slight recovery in the middle, but the loose snow made it a lot tougher than it would have been otherwise. I continued to pull away from Eric as the race progressed but felt slow mostly because of the footing.
Somewhere during the second mile we crossed the road with Tom and Chris standing there (Tom had been shoveling snow onto the road for the crossing). I crossed over and immediately took a left by mistake. I should have gone right/straight where Chris was standing. After a few moments I heard both of them yell and I turned to realize I was going the wrong way. I think Eric did the same thing when he got there. There was a sign but we both missed it.
The entire opposite side of the course is flat but had some slow spots here and there. It reminded me a little of the upper fields at the old Sidehiller course....meandering along and through a couple old stone walls and occasionally hitting deeper drifts with crunchy, sloppy snow that had been broken through by the course flaggers. Nothing was 'groomed' or packed down other than footprints. There was some confusion with Eric and I at one part of the course (late) where there was no marshall (Tim Cox got there just after Eric and I had already gone through). There were two ways to go and we went the opposite way instead of this smaller loop on the left side but it didn't really affect the outcome. We did run a tad shorter going the other way but it was through no fault of our own. The flagging being 'on the left' the entire time made sense to go the way I chose when I got to that fork...but being the golf course and a sprawling, wide open course, it all depended on how wide you took the turn and what side of the flags you went on. It would have made sense if it was single track or a road or obvious 'route' but in the middle of a fairway, it was difficult to tell...and with no one there just yet and no arrows or signs, it was a guessing game for me. Tim came up to me after the race and told me he had gotten there a tad late. He was obviously too occupied watching his young son (a national record holder) destroy most of the field in his first snowshoe race...(the kid finished 5th at the age of 10!!).
After finishing the outer loop of the top part of the course, we crossed the street again in the same spot and I headed down a bit before climbing back up one last time. The end had one last push up a small hill on a cart path that had a lot of bare spots and thick ice. The wind did a number on some of the areas of the course for sure and this was the thinnest spot up on the hill by the finish. I came through in 20:32 and was lucky enough to get through it without any major issues. I had one small calf issue around 2.5 miles but it was a quick stab and then it was gone.
I cooled down a short couple miles with Eric, Leslie, and Scott Mitchell who came through in 3rd, behind Eric, to round out the podium.
After the race, there was a nice get together inside with some music and food. My girls danced around a bit before the awards. For the win I got a nice gold plated (OK gold 'painted') shovel and a bag of Six03 swag including a pretty cool belt buckle.
Video from Kristin who braved the cold and the wind:
Some footage of the far side of the course:
Eric finishing in second (and in style):
And some more finishers:
|The Three Shovelteers again...|