You'd think a snowshoe race with 'Pooh' in the name (Pooh Hill Snowshoe Scramble) would be a little different then what it was. Sort of like the bunny slopes of snowshoe courses. Awh, what a cute name for a 'hill'. How tough can it be???
Now....the rest of the story.
The 1st race of the Granite State Snowshoe Series took place at King Pine Resort in East Madison, NH. It was an absolute beautiful day: sunny, not a cloud in the sky, no wind and temps near 5 degrees. I arrived just before 9am after a 2hr-100mile drive from Merrimack. Compared to some of the WMAC races, a 2hr drive was a breeze. Lots of familiar faces (Jim Johnson & Kristin, Scott Graham, Bill Morse and crew) and even a few new ones. Kristin was nice enough to take some great photos of the race which can be seen here, and is credited with the one of me to the left taken around the 8.5k point.
As I was getting ready near my car a guy came up to me (after seeing my license plate HAV2RUN) and introduced himself....by his blog name "NikonRunner". The funny thing is I recognized his blog and thus the person, Scott Mason. Too funny!
I headed out to check the end of the course prior to the race. I like to check out the last mile or so of a snowshoe race to know how much longer I need to suck wind. The end of the race was all on freshly groomed crosss country ski trails and I easily ran the last 2k or so with just my trail shoes. I did note two things: 1) there's a killer (but short) hill about 100yds from the finish and 2) the 8k marker was at least 1/2k or more from the finish line which was surprising considering I thought this was an 8k race :-)
Jim Johnson has a nice write up on the course on his blog. It was an awesome course and thankfully most was on nicely groomed trails but Pooh Hill was a killer. It should have been called Satan's Summit or something more intimidating than 'Pooh'. It was definitely a climb but it went on for EVER. Kevin Tilton and Chris Dunn's dad were at the top and you could hear them talking so at least you knew when you were close. The uncontrolled bushwhack back down was a blast with gravity taking charge then it was back to the groomed trails for the remainder of the race.
I was trying to figure out if this hill was worse than the hill at the Cobble Mountain Snowshoe race last year (and the next race in the Granite State Series). In my mind I think Cobble was a tougher climb but that might be because Cobble was my 1st snowshoe race ever. I guess I'll find out for sure in a few weeks.
Somehow I managed a 2nd place overall with a time of 47:27 and results can be found here. I gave Jim Johnson a run for his money for the first 5 yards but he managed pull ahead in the next 8.499k to squeeze out a win with a time of 44:04. It was the longest I've snowshoed so far and I was definitely hurting at the end. I need to work on pacing a bit more or more importantly, effort. I feel like I go out at 5k effort and I really need to scale it back to a more manageable 10k or 1/2 marathon effort at the start. It is very hard to do since the pace seems so slow but I'm running out of gas near the end.
On a side note I wanted to mention what should be an excellent rivalry in the team competition of this series. The newly formed Dungeon Rock Racing team had a strong showing with 10 racers and was only outdone by the host team of acidotic RACING (which I am a member of) with 16 racers. The winning team takes home a case of Redhook. DRR's motives are clear: they are a drinking team with a snowshoeing problem. They did have nice racing singlets and a scary skull and crossbones team flag though :-)