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, March 7, 2010

US National Snowshoe Championships

Fabius, NY--Saturday's US National Snowshoe Championships were a "highlighted" event on my 2010 racing calendar. I had set an age-group podium finish as a goal for this event back in December. It's been tough to stay motivated to snowshoe with the warm temperatures and melting snow over the past few weeks here in NH but these championships are the northeast on a rare occasion. Despite spending very little time (READ: no time) in snowshoes, my last two weeks of training on the roads had been pretty solid with a renewed emphasis on hill climbing. That strategy would serve me well as the 10k course at Highland Forest Park was a brutal combination of wicked climbing and snow so chewed up it looked as if they'd had a monster truck rally on the course that morning. The men's race would feature 129 snowshoe racers from across the snow covered US. I seeded myself on the far right in the 2nd row at the start. Looking around I saw only a few familiar faces and those were the guys whom I had no chance of racing. In a preview of things to come, the course started uphill. The powdery snow caused near whiteout conditions as racers stammered and staggered all around me desperately searching for two solid footstrikes in a row. The soft snow pack was incredibly choppy with zero definable rail. I must have started poorly off the line because for the next 4-6 minutes I steadily began working my way through the field around slower competitors. Within the first 2 km I recognized my teammate Danny Ferreira. I was actually a little surprised to see him. At Sidehiller, some four weeks ago, he beat me by over 2 minutes and just last week had run a sub 3 hour marathon. Racing with him reaffirmed that my effort was good. When we reached the singletrack section at approximately the 3 km mark we got caught behind a group of slower snowshoers. Within a few minutes the guy in the front of the line stepped off the trail and allowed us to race by. I felt the pace quicken immediately. The narrow width of the singletrack and the hairpin turns made the footing very challenging. On at least two occasions I stumbled forward planting my bare hands wrist deep in snow. Once out of the singletrack and back on the double-wide, Danny accelerated. The descent was marked with 8 inch deep 'shoe holes so I decided to let him go. As he raced out of sight I picked up another couple of places as I raced around our singletrack buddies. I ran alone for the next few minutes but as we began to climb again I noticed Danny and the two guys he was racing coming back to me. I felt very strong on the ascents and eventually closed the gap with Danny. A familiar pattern would evolve over the final 2 kms...Danny would pull away on the descents and I'd reel him back in on the climbs. Knowing the final 350 meters was uphill I liked my chances if I could stay close on the final descent. The only problem with the strategy was that Danny probably knew this as well. As we approached the final descent he put the hammer down. I just couldn't match his incredible youthful strength. Although I did close the gap on the last climb (the race finished uphill, just like it started) I wasn't a threat to him. Astonishingly he actually passed someone on that final climb to finish in 36th place overall. I crossed the line in 38th place (6th overall Master) in an unofficial time of 58:58. Although I didn't achieve my goal of a podium finish I was beaten by three of the best northeast masters snowshoers...Sean Snow, Tim Van Orden, and David Principe. The top aR mens performance of the day was Geoff Cunningham's 17th overall finish. In the womens race, aR's Ann Rasmussen and Amber Ferreira had incredibly successful races. In her first full season of snowshoe racing, Ann posted a stellar 7th overall finish (3rd in her age-group). And finally, in the aR highlight of the year (heck, perhaps the last 5 years)...Amber Ferreira outraced 70 of the best womens snowshoe racers in the country to win the 10th Annual PowerSox US National Snowshoe Championships! See the podium ceremony clip below;

Next Up: Granite State Snowshoe Championships

[PHOTO CREDS: Chris at finish (Scott Mason Photography), Chris & Danny, climbing to the finish (Scott Mason Photography), aR team photo...Geoff, Danny, Ann, Amber, Chris (Scott Mason Photography)]

1 comment:

  1. Nice job Saturday Chris. Way to race in tough conditions. I hope to see you at Great Glen.