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]
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