|Deeeeep in the Hurt Locker at|
the finish of Horse Hill
[Photo courtesy of Bob Jackman]
PART I: Horse Hill Snowshoe Race
MERRIMACK, New Hampshire -- Ironically enough, the lack of snow in early January resulted in at least two races in the Granite State Snowshoe Series being rescheduled. That (un)fortunate circumstance put another "double" on the schedule this weekend. Luckily, snowshoe racing isn't that tough on the joints and racing twice in a weekend isn't really all that hard to do...or is it? I missed the 2010 version of Horse Hill last winter as it fell on the same day as the Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race that I host. In fact, the last time I raced at this venue I actually 'podiumed' finishing third behind Jim Johnson and Steve "Buddy" Wolfe. Oh how the sport has evolved in the last two years! A podium finish would not be in the cards this time around as apparently someone let the cat out of the bag that this snowshoe racing stuff is a lot of fun. Another very impressive crowd, some 88 strong, tackled a newly re-designed Steve Wolfe creation. Wolfe has become one of the premier course designers in New Hampshire and the "new" Horse Hill didn't disappoint! The conditions were hardpacked and fast with a mix of singletrack, doubletrack, and snowmobile. Knowing that things would get out fast early I attempted to seed myself in the 3rd row right behind one of the top masters Sean Snow and directly in front of teammates Amber "Irongirl" Ferreira and Wolfe. Within minutes of the start I was in a line of 'shoers that included Amber, myself, Wolfe, and Mike Wade. We stuck fairly close together as we started to pick off racers that had gone out a little hard and couldn't keep up the pace. Eventually Amber, myself, and Steve were running alone having put a little gap on our pursuers. On a snowmobile section approximately 2 miles in Steve made a move on both Amber and I. As he ran by I asked Amber for the spot and she graciously obliged. It would be our turn to pull her for a while. With Steve as the engine of this runaway locomotive we set our sights on Snow. I jokingly told Steve to catch him, pass him, and then 'put the breaks on' so the rest of us could catch up. Within a few hundred meters Steve had reeled Sean in and zipped around him. I eventually caught him as well and was very content to be racing so close to a guy who has completely destroyed me for the better part of two winters. He asked several time if I wanted by but I was pretty happy with his pace and my position. As we switched back up Horse Hill Amber began to close the gap that Sean and I had put on her. Eventually she was clipping my tails as we approached the summit. Sean finally stepped aside to let me pass. With about 800 meters to go I decided it was then or never and I pushed as hard as I could racing the last descent as out of control as I've ever been. Knowing Amber has the best finishing kick around my only chance was to put a little space on her before the flat straight-a-way finish. Astonishing even myself I was able to hold her and Sean off to finish 9th overall (4th master) in 36:15. My teammate Wolfe finally got back on the winning side of things beating me by 14 seconds. Truth be told...Sean definately wasn't 100% and was probably fighting off an illness. He's a warrior for showing up to race anyway. Fantastic aR showing with 2 in the Top 3, 7 in the Top 10, and 12 overal finishers!
PICTURES (courtesy of Bob Jackman)
|"Pulling" my teammate and best friend Steve Wolfe|
along to the finish of the Bear Paw Classic
[Photo courtesy of Karen L. Dunn]
PART II: Bear Paw Classic Snowshoe Race
NORTHWOOD, New Hampshire -- Another day...another snowshoe race. But on this day it wouldn't be just any other snowshoe race. It would be the snowshoe RDing debut of my daughter Madison. As her CBNA senior project, she organized the first annual Bear Paw Classic Snowshoe Race on the campus of CBNA as a fundraiser for the winter track program. The course was expertly designed by Tim Cox, coach at CBNA and top northeast snowshoer. And it was a masterful combination of 'sugary' rustic doubletrack, carnival ride-like singletrack, and killer snowmobile climbs. An enthusiastic crowd of 45 snowshoers stepped to the line and tore off though the outfield of the baseball field with snow and smiles flying everywhere! I quickly settled in behind Wolfe who seemed determined to repeat his thrashing of me the day before in Merrimack. The two of us were somewhere in the middle of the Top 10 as we cruised around the 'Back Loop'. As we entered the singletrack we were all alone having worked our way up to 5th & 6th overall putting a gap on 7th+. Steve flew through the singletrack section and I did my best to hang on. Popping out onto the first snowmobile section I knew it would be a slog as I'd previewed the course and then marked it the day before. This relatively short stretch mostly gained elevation and the footing was very soft for snowmobile track. We passed my son Brayden, marshaling the next major snowmobile intersection, and proceeded to attack the "Power Line" snowmobile corridor. The only significant climbing on the course would be on this section and with the trail running along the powerlines we could see Dave Dunham in 3rd and teammate Ryan Welts in 4th as they raced up ahead....way ahead. Nearing the top of the "middle" climb Steve fell off the pace slightly and I realized it was my time to pull the two of us for a little bit. Descending on the other side he caught back up and we hit the last singletrack section together with me setting the pace. Finally back on the 'Back Loop' I encouraged him to pull up behind and we would finish side by side for a change. It only seemed fitting that he had led for the 1st half and I had led for the 2nd half that our duel should end in a tie. The only problem was the slow footing on the 'Back Loop' prevented him from close the 2-3 meter gap. Once back on the baseball field for the final 100 meter sprint we held those places and finished 5th and 6th overall. And as a testament to how competitive the masters division is...we were 3rd and 4th masters with top overall northeast ranked snowshoer Tim Van Orden in 2nd place overall and Dave Dunham joining him on the podium in 3rd. For a first time event there were a few minor 'glitches' but overall everyone seemed to love the course and the organization. Well done Maddie!
NEXT UP: Northeast Snowshoe Championship, Northfield, MA