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, February 5, 2012

WinterWild-Ragged Mountain

Leading the field up Exhibition at the
2012 WinterWild Ragged Mountain Race
[Photo Gianina Lindsey]
"I have climbed several higher mountains without guide or path, and have found, as might be expected, that it takes only more time and patience commonly than to travel the smoothest highway."  -Henry David Thoreau

Danbury, NEW HAMPSHIRE - Sometimes things just 'click'.  I'm not the strongest nor fleetest of foot but there's something about mountain races that I thoroughly enjoy.  Standing at the bottom and gazing up there's an incredible sense of excitement for the adventure to come.  I've never run to the top of any of these mountains so everything is new.  Everything is an exploration.  For me the lure is the challenge.  To do something that many wouldn't dare.  And so it was that I once again rose to a 3:00 AM alarm and with bleary eyes climbed into the back of the aR caravan (aka the Lindsey's mini-van) for the roughly two hour trip to Danbury, NH for WinterWild-Ragged Mountain, the 2nd race in the five race series and the brainchild of Chad Denning.  This time, however, I'd be joined by my son Brayden who would make his aR snowboard racing debut.  Check snowboarding off the list of sports that we now compete in.  We arrived in plenty of time to get registered, changed, and warm-up a little before the race.  The temperatures were much warmer than two weeks earlier at Whaleback.  Also different from two weeks prior was the presence of the other winter disciplines including Nordic, Tele, and Alpine (ski & board).  Chad gave his final race instructions including the process for the "orderly" descent down the mountain...runners to the LEFT and everyone else to the RIGHT.  From everything I'd heard the Nordic guys typically have a big advantage and usually dominate the overall results.  Although they might not be able to climb as fast as a runner they more than make up for it on the descent.  I saw a handful of familiar faces including my new WinterWild masters rival Mark Hecox (Henniker, NH) who just nipped me at the line at Whaleback.  As the race began I was surprised to find myself leading for the first 100 meters.  My visions of grandeur were short lived however as the nimble, light, and young guns began to motor by me.  I was able to hold onto 3rd/4th place as Mark and I raced neck-and-neck up the hill.  Roughly 500 meters into the race I noticed someone making a hard push on us.  At this point I was still running (slowly) but my new masters OPEN challenge was maintaining a steady pace as he walked by both Mark and myself.  I later learned it was Paul Doe of Derry, NH.  He easily pulled away from both of us as he marched up the steepest section of Exhibition toward the summit.  Not long after Paul went by us I began to separate from Mark.  He and I had been racing on opposite sides of the ski slope with me taking the inside line.  It really wasn't a purposeful tactic on my part I just chose to take the shorter of the two routes.  By not racing within the magic 3 meter range it allowed me to get a little gap on him although in the back of my mind I was reminded how strong he was on the descent at Whaleback so I knew our race was far from over.  Reaching the summit Paul had a 50 meter lead on me and because of the hairpin summit turn I couldn't determine how close Mark was.  And down we went.  As firm as the ascent was, the descent was equally soft with spots that left a 3-5 inch footstep.  Not sure if it made it harder or easier as my focus was squarely on finding a line and falling forward down the mountain.  Roughly 500 meters into the descent I could hear the first Nordic guys coming.  Three of them "WHOOSHED" by in a full tuck blur.  Because I wasn't really racing those jokers it didn't bother me.  Paul really pushed on this final section and wouldn't allow me to close.  As I spied back up the hill on a few occasions I noticed my pursuers but they didn't seem to be making up any ground.  When I could see the lodge I knew we were getting close.  I rounded the chair lift and made the final 10 meter "uphill" push to the finish without having to fight for the place.  My 22:07 (7:23's) was good enough for 7th overall, 4th OPEN, and 2nd OPEN 40+.  Mark finished just behind me.  Having traded 40-49 OPEN wins in the first two races we are now tied for the 40-49 OPEN series podium.  Can't wait to take on WinterWild-Pat's Peak in two two weeks.  It should be the biggest challenge of the winter as the race is a two loop course. 

Here's some great POV video that Brayden captured of the descent.  Gives you an idea of the spectacle that is a WW race.  [NOTE:  shot with our DRIFT HD170]

NEXT UP:  Horsehill Snowshoe Race, Merrimack, NH

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