"Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength." -Arnold Schwarzenegger
Exeter, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- The word "classic" has several definitions. Used as a noun it can mean a traditional event. Saturday's Exeter Snowshoe Hullabaloo was a classic snowshoe race in every sense of the word. acidotic RACING RD's Ri Fahnestock and Sarah Silverberg have literally been planning this event since last winter when the race was postponed and eventually cancelled due to the lack of snow. This winter would be quite the opposite with the snow piling up from one snowstorm after another. The 4.4 miles of sugary rollercoaster 100% singletrack would wind through the Exeter Town Forest in Exeter, NH. Commonly referred to as "Fort Rock", the two foot base of packed powder would blanket every rock & root this highly technical trail network has to offer. Teammate Timmy Lindsey and I arrived on site early to set up the DION Snowshoe loaner tent and help Ri, Sarah, and volunteers get things ready. I'm always amazed at how quickly 2 hours goes by when chatting with a steady stream of snowshoe racing friends. Before I knew it Sarah made the "10 minutes to race time" call. I hurriedly went through my final preparations and jogged to the race start some 50 meters up the trail. The incredible success of the Granite State Snowshoe Series was evident as 97 snowshoers lined up on a narrow stretch of trail that Ri had widened to double track for the first 1/4 mile earlier that morning. Despite his efforts the start would be tight with just enough room for two wide with the edges being very soft powder. I lined up in the second or third row just behind the Top 10 with Amber in front and Ian behind. After last weekend's incredible performance I encouraged Ian to get up ahead of me but he was content where he was. Just moments before the race Amber, for some strange reason, pulled me ahead of her. Flattering yes, but not very practical, as she's beaten me the last two races. Maybe she took my suggestion to be her bodyguard seriously? Either way, the start of the race was mass confusion and reminded me of a tri swim start with elbows, knees, and powder flying everywhere. Seconds after the start I heard the commotion of what sounded like a downed 'shoer but didn't dare turn around. As the race proceeded I worked hard to stay in the middle of the doublewide track to take advantage of the better surface. Truth be told however, the soft powdery surface provided very little 'solid' surface to push off. As we made our way down the trail teammate Jerry Fitzgibbon, a very strong masters athlete, yielded to push me on ahead. Moments after that, teammate Ryan Welts tried to pass on the right thought knee deep powder but quickly realized that any passing would have to be in the designated passing zones or by courtesy. Before long some 'shoers that had gone out a little too hard to establish their place were beginning to back up the rest of the Top 20 and one by one they graciously stepped aside to let faster 'shoers go by. Not long after that I raced up hard behind a guy and called my intention to pass on the left. Apparently not having learned from Ryan's earlier failed bushwhack attempt I tried to plow though the 2 feet of powder to pass. Within three steps I heaved forward narrowly missing a faceplant as Ian, Amber, and at least one other racer zipped by. Quickly getting back on the singletrack I decided that passing for the rest of the race would need to be on packed trail. Reminescent of Sidehiller (except substitute one Trail Monster for another) Ian, Amber, and I would stick together and pull away from the group behind us opening up at least a 20 second gap. There were times when Ian and Amber would pull away slightly, but the soft powdery climbs would allow me to close the gap and get within 2-3 meters of them. We held that order for the rest of the race. Ian expertly changing speeds when he sensed Amber was closing and particularly when he spotted the "passing zones" (freshly tramped singletrack). My relative lack of training once again was the difference in my inability to match their acceleration within the last 1/2 mile as they slowly pulled away. I crossed the line in 46:24 good enough for 12th overall (2nd masters). David Principe of the Tuesday Night Turtles finally returned to form and won the masters division. aR had another great turnout with multiple Top 10 & 20 finishes and yet another team victory.
NEXT UP: Horsehill Snowshoe Race, Merrimack, NH (GSSS #5) & Bear Paw Classic, Northwood, NH (GSSS #6)
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