Dare Mighty Things

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pooh Hill Snowshoe Scramble

East Madison, NEW HAMPSHIRE--A combination of perfect weather, a beautiful setting, and some great racing action resulted in another aR success...the Pooh Hill Snowshoe Scramble at King Pine & Purity Spring Resort! With 82 finishers it was another record field for this event. Jim Johnson (CMS Polar Bears) picked up his 6th win this winter and continued his recent dominance of the sport. The Top 3 were rounded out by his CMS teammate Ben Nephew (Mansfield, MA) and Robert Jackman (Warwick, RI) of the Tuesday Night Turtles. Not to be overlooked and perhaps equally as dominant is aR's Amber Cullen (Concord, NH) who logged her third victory of the season. Joining her on the podium was aR's newcomer Ann Rasmussen (Plymouth, NH) and junior sensation Jessey Campbell (Northwood, NH). Campbell, a recent grad of Coe-Brown Northwood Academy, is very likely the best U19 in New England. New for 2010 is our expanded awards categories. The SuperMasters Top 3 were Walter Fortier (Concord, NH), Jim Barry (Ipswitch, MA), and Gary Reuter (Kittery, ME...and the oldest competitor in the field!). In the Masters competitions, the Top three women were Lisa Ransom (Concord, NH), Diane Gagnon (Old Orchard Beach, ME), and Diane Levesque (Rochester, NH). On the men's side, Steve Wolfe (Merrimack, NH), Robert Wanamaker (Eliot, ME), and Ed Mulvey (Boxford, MA) climbed the podium. The fastest growing segment of the sport, juniors, were also recognized. The Top 3 Junior girls were Shelby Erwin (New Durham, NH), Jessica Mulligan (Cambridge, MA), and Avery Adams (Strafford, NH). In the boys race Top 3 honors went to Sam Wallis (Allston, MA), Patrick Graham (Northwood, NH), and Philip Erwin (New Durham, NH). In the team competition a very familiar group stood atop the podium, acidotic RACING. Despite the fact that a number of our top 'shoers were absent, the team won with great individual performances and a huge overall turnout. The Top 3 aR teammates were Tim Cox (Northwood, NH), Steve Wolfe (Merrimack, NH) and Danny Ferriera (Concord, NH). The next race in the Granite State Snowshoe Series is the only US Snowshoe Association qualifier in NH, the Sidehiller 4-Mile Snowshoe Race in Center Sandwich, NH on Saturday, January 30, 2010.

Check out the results and photos on our website!

PS. I am extremely excited to announce that we collected 36 coats through our One Warm Coat drive yesterday which will be donated to New Horizons of New Hampshire! Thank you to everyone who brought a coat (or coats). If you missed this one, we'll be holding a coat drive at each of our final three events (Exeter Snowshoe Hullabaloo, Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe, and the Granite State Snowshoe Championships).

Monday, January 18, 2010

UPDATE: Pooh Hill Snowshoe Scramble

Strafford, NEW HAMPSHIRE--Nearly a FOOT of fresh powder fell today at King Pine & Purity Spring Resort in East Madison, NH today! KP is the site of Saturday's Pooh Hill Snowshoe Scramble, the 3rd race in the Granite State Snowshoe Series. Those of you who've raced our events in the past can expect the same great hospitality, organization, and prizes. This year, however, will feature a number of exciting new changes and additions. For starters, we're expanding our awards categories to include the fastest growing segment of our sport...juniors (19 years and under). In addition, we've revised our categories (slightly) to assure we get as many folks up on our podium (yes, we have a real podium). Here are our new award categories;
Men's & women's overall winners
JUNIORS (19 years old and under)
Boy's & girl's
MASTERS (45-59 years old)
Men's & women's
SUPER MASTERS (60+ years old)
Men's & women's

One Warm Coat
We're also excited to be holding our first One Warm Coat drive in conjunction with our snowshoe race. Please plan to bring any and all "gently used" warm coats you are no longer in need of so that we can get them on the backs of people in need. All donated coats will be given directly to the folks at New Horizons of New Hampshire.

Redhook Awards Ceremony
Giving away lots of great prizes isn't new for us, but a couple of sponsors will be. As always we'll be bringing prizes from Redhook, Kahtoola, All-Terrain, and Hammer Nutrition but this year we've added some great partners including White Mountain Granola, RedMaple Sportswear, Ambler Mountain Works, and Nathan Sports.

This year we've made the business decision to absorb the processing fee from Active.com instead of passing it along to you. This means that if online pre-registration says "$20" it's really just $20. The hope is this will encourage more folks to pre-register which makes it easier to plan race day resources (like how many sandwiches I need to order for Saturday!).

And finally, a word about the course. 90% of what you raced last year will be the same. The only change, and likely a permanent one, is the elimination of the "Pooh Hill" climb. A couple of factors played into the decision to remove this section of the course.

1.) Recent logging has decimated the trailhead (see image).

2.) Creating a virgin bushwhack decent is extremely laborious considering my own racing schedule and the thick undergrowth of Toll Hill.

3.) The Granite State Snowshoe Series should offer competitors a variety of courses raced over a variety of terrains and distances. Perhaps some day we'll add a "mountain snowshoe racing series".
Pre-registration closes on Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 5:00 pm...don't wait!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

GSSS #2: Feel Good Farm Snowshoe Race

Lyndeborough, NEW HAMPSHIRE--Perhaps no snowshoe race (or any other race for that matter) has as ironic of a name as the Feel Good Farm Snowshoe Race. I didn't feel particularly good at any time during my morning "on the farm". Today's race, the second in the Granite State Snowshoe Series, was billed by the RD as the "toughest snowshoe race" in New England. If walking during a snowshoe race is any indication of how tough it is then he's getting no argument from me. Double loop courses for me are about as much fun as a poke in the eye. Two loops and four (that's right FOUR) trips up Moose Mountain was what was in store today. Under mostly sunny skies and unseasonably warm temps (it may have been warmer here than in parts of Florida) a very deep and fast field of 100 snowshoers attacked all this course had to offer. Knowing how strong the field was and how tight the course got on the immediate first climb I killed it from the start to trying to establish a good spot in the Top 10. Mission accomplished. I settled in behind Christian and Wolfe and braced myself for the pain. The course conditions were a little sketchy with lots of exposed rocks, roots, and even a brook crossing. The past 48 hours must have taken a toll on the snow pack temps. On the first climb Ri and I passed Christian and tried to keep up with Wolfe who had gone out in typical fashion...hard. The first descent from Moose Mountain was steep and I tried to focus on easing my foot off the brakes. Ri, an experienced alpine skier and tremendous athlete, blasted by Wolfe and I. After a few minutes of rolling twisting singletrack we began the second ascent of Moose Mountain. It was here that I knew something wasn't right with Steve. Shortly after we started to climb we both began walking and he told me to go by him. Not the Wolfe I know. I reluctantly obliged and tried to keep the pace with Ri. No more than a hundred meters into the climb I had caught Ri and passed him. As we finished the first loop I could still see him 5-10 seconds behind me. That gap was just about the same distance as Jim Pawlicki had on me. I stuck with him for the first climb of the 2nd loop (3rd time up that damn Moose Mountain if you're counting) but felt him move away from me as we crested the hill. I held onto that spot until the final climb up...you guessed it, Moose Mountain. By this time I walked the hill almost as soon as the elevation changed and Ri went for the kill. He passed me, good natured as he always is, and encouraged me to tag along. Feel Good Farm had taken just about everything I had and I felt him move out of my clutches. Although I kept him in my sights I was no threat to him in the final few hundred meters. Peeking over my shoulder as I began the final bear rock descent I saw Chris Mahoney finishing the climb and closing fast. It would be the final time I looked back as I managed to hold onto the 8th overall spot (and 1st Masters), finishing just 10 seconds behind Ri and 22 seconds ahead of Chris [RESULTS]. My overall master's win was bittersweet however as I later learned why Wolfe had seemed to struggle so mightily (and uncharacteristically). His posting can be read here. Finally, it was another great day for aR! Although the team standings haven't been officially posted I'll bet we were in the Top 2...and probably on the top podium. Geoff finished second, beating Ben Nephew who bested him last week and Charlie came in 4th. Ri finished the Top 3 scoring for aR finishing in 7th place. Amber won the women's race with Ann finishing alongside of her on the podium in 2nd. I think we had 21 snowshoers in total...another FANTASTIC number with a couple of aR 1st timers including Christian and Peter Floss. I'll take a weekend off from racing next week as we're hosting the Pooh Hill Snowshoe Scramble on Saturday (1/23).

NEXT UP: Sidehiller Snowshoe Race, Center Sandwich, NH

[Photo creds: Scott Mason Photography, Karen Dunn]

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Olde Salem Greens Snowshoe Classic

Salem, MASSACHUSETTS--Well, the word's finally out. Snowshoe racing is no longer a fanatical winter distraction enjoyed by a few. It's now emerging as a legitimate winter sport for trail and road racers alike looking to maintain their connection with the outdoors, refine their fitness, and enjoy some tremendous competition. Witness nearly 200 finishers at yesterday's Olde Salem Greens Snowshoe Classic. The "first annual" by the way. RD Eileen Dunn and her team of volunteers did a fantastic job organizing what may have been one of the largest snowshoe races in recent New England snowshoe racing history. And the crew from Dungeon Rock Racing masterfully crafted an interesting and challenging mix of rolling open spaces and twisting singletrack. Although not part of the Granite State Snowshoe Series specifically, the event did award series team points and the snowshoe racing crew from aR was well represented. Thirteen teammates including Geoff Cunningham, Charlie Therriault, Ri Fahnestock, Jerry Fitzgibbon, Rich Lavers, Jay Myers, Austin Stonebraker, Scott Graham, Richie Blake, Timmy Lindsey, Gary Reuter, and Michael Amarello raced downhill from the start with the powder flying in an effort to establish their place before the singletrack. I got off to a good start and found myself in third place behind Ben Nephew (the eventual winner) and Geoff within the first 200 meters. It wasn't long however before I felt someone or someones pressing from behind. In a flash both Dan Verrington (CMS) and my teammate Charlie pushed past. I implored Charlie to stick with Dan as I tried to hang on to the two of them. At times I felt them come back toward me on the climbs but they moved away easily on the flats and downs as they worked together, Dan holding off Charlie. Just before we hit the singletrack, in a lightly wooded area, I peaked behind to see Ri in 6th place less than 200 meters back. Having lost the pull from Dan & Charlie, now more than 100 meters ahead, I found myself alone and struggling to maintain the pace. As I exited the singletrack and popped back out onto the golf course I noticed that Charlie had moved ahead of Dan into third place. Now back onto the open expanses of the course it was easy to see who was ahead and behind. Dan, now in 4th, seemed to pick his pace up with less than 800 meters to go. With no chance to catch him the objective was to simply maintain my position and hold off Ri who was charging hard and closing the gap. By the time I could see the finish there were only two turns left and an uphill climb to the tape. I crossed the finish line in 24:57 good enough for 5th place overall and runner-up in the master's division (40+). It was my first Top 5 finish of the series and I was very pleased with my race plan, execution, and fitness. Overall, aR dominated the field winning the team competition with 2 on the podium, 3 in the Top 5, 5 in the Top 10, and 7 in the Top 20 with multiple age-group winners. The GSSS gets back in swing next week as snowshoers travel to Lyndeborough, NH for the Feel Good Farm Snowshoe Race.

NEXT UP: Feel Good Farm Snowshoe Race

Olde Salem Greens Snowshoe Classic RESULTS

Saturday, January 2, 2010

GSSS #1: Beaver Brook

Hollis, NEW HAMPSHIRE--The first race of the Granite State Snowshoe Series was an incredible success despite the sketchy driving throughout the region this morning. With a couple of inches on the ground and snow falling I headed out extra early just in case the travelling was slow. I probably could have stayed in bed another 30 minutes. What should have taken me 90 minutes took 2 hours, but I arrived a little less than 3 hours before the race. Oh well, I always say "better to be 3 hours early than 1 minute late". If there was any silver lining in that (storm) cloud it was that I finally beat Scott Graham to a race. Speaking of Scott...he, myself, and 16 other aR teammates were in full regalia and ready to defend our GSSS title. Although there were rumors of a last minute change, it turned out that Michael decided to stick with the standard out-and-back course. I felt confident in the course because of my experience there earlier in December. By 10:00 AM (90 minutes prior to the start) snowshoers began arriving...and arriving, and ARRIVING! I couldn't believe the number of crazed snowshoe fanatics willing to risk life, limb, and property on a snowshoe race. When everyone finally stepped to the line the final count was in...90 snowshoe racers. Easily the best turnout for this event and a great start for the series. Michael's go command sent us stomping through 6+ inches of fresh powder through a 200 meter field to the first hairpin turn. I got out fast but was still caught behind 8 or 9 'shoers who were kicking the powder up so violently that I could only see blurry figures ahead of me. I trusted my foot placement because seeing my feet wasn't an option. By the time we hit Cow Lane (seriously, it's called Cow Lane), the racing in the front was still side by side. I lost a spot early to one of the top NY snowshoers, Matt Westerlund, but settled into 10th place behind teammates Danny Ferreira and Jerry Fitzgibbon along with Dungeon Rock Racing's Christopher Smith. It seems as though I learn something about snowshoe racing every time I compete. Today was no different. Prior to the race I got caught up in a discussion about the binding system on my DION 121's and apparently neglected to secure the tie on my new CW-X tights. When I finally made a move around Danny, Jerry, and Christopher I realized my tights were half way down my rear end. For the remainder of the race I spent every 10th stride 'hiking' them back up to a socially acceptable height. Just unbelievable. I guess between loose snowshoes and loose tights...I'll take the tights. I felt a surge of energy with every teammate I saw on my way back to the finish. Like them, I did my best to recognize each one by name. I spied over my shoulder one final time within 50 meters of the finish just to make sure I didn't get jaked at the line. Without anyone in immediate sight I took the final few uphill strides to the tape finishing in 17:40 (unofficially). The finish was good enough for 7th place overall. Teammate Tim Cox finished 2nd to winner Jim Johnson while my other teammate Steve Wolfe finished 5th. I apparently took a little less than 2 minutes off my time from December. I guess 'shoeing around 30+ trail runners actually did slow things down last time. With an incredibly strong team surrounding me, I'm very pleased to have placed 3rd for aR. Although the official team scores have yet to be posted it appears as though aR won the team competition today. Putting nine in the Top 15 will make us tough to beat anywhere by anyone. Finally, it should be noted that teammate Amber Cullen (Ferreira) won the women's competition. A great day personally as well as for the entire aR snowshoe racing team. Next week is an off week for the series, but team points are up for grabs at the Olde Salem Greens Snowshoe Classic in Salem, MA. I'm eager to keep the mojo rolling...this time with my tights securely fastened.

NEXT UP: Old Salem Greens Snowshoe Classic

[Photo credits: Scott Mason Photography]