Note to self: next time I get sick for a week and run less than 30 miles in 2 weeks, don't sign up for back to back snowshoe races on the following week. Actually, all things considered, it wasn't that bad of a weekend. Yesterday I raced Sidehiller which at the time I thought had some of the toughest conditions to date to race in. Plenty of snow, nice fluffy powder in fact but not nearly firm enough to run comfortably.
Today was Frosty's 5k on the grounds of the Atkinson Country Club golf course. On paper this race should have been much easier. Nice, easy slopes, no real hills to speak of and temps pushing 50. Of course the wind was pushing 50mph as well but not much of a factor surprisingly. A freshly made snowmobile track was the course du jour. The snow would make Frosty proud. Perfect for making snowmen but less then ideal for racing. Technically, the snow was fine for running, it was the course that made it difficult. The snowmobile trail just wasn't firm enough to push off on and that sinking feeling was there throughout the day.
I opted for standard snowshoe race attire: shorts and a short sleeve shirt. I couldn't help myself...I mean how many times do you get the chance to comfortably race on snowshoes in shorts and a t-shirt??
A quick scan of the athletes on the line and I figured my chances were good for a decent showing. GSSS standout Jim Johnson was there with an unknown (at the time) CMS runner along with a boatload of DRR runners and too many acidotic RACING team mates to mention. Quick math would mean Jim would be 1st, unknown CMS runner would 2nd (ALL guys with CMS singlets are speed demons) and the rest of us would battle it out for 3rd and beyond. As usual Jim took off like a shot at the start and I slipped into 2nd after going out pretty fast. Jim was out of sight by about the 1/4 mile mark and left the rest of us in his snow wake. I felt like I should be fast but I just wasn't moving. The CMS guy passed me somewhere prior to the 1st mile and kept a comfortable lead on me the rest of the way. Not long after he passed I heard another shoer sneaking up on me, fellow team mate Chris Dunn. He was running strong and I was fading. Always the team mate, Chris encouraged me to work together and I quickly hopped on his heels (I think I actually ran on his snowshoe heels a few times in fact...sorry Chris). Unlike the 2 guys up front, Chris had a stride very similar to mine and I followed in his footsteps exactly. To be honest, I prefer to follow anyways so for the time being things were good. With probably less than a mile to go I pushed to the front on a short downhill. I was really hoping Chris would either fade like an old pair of jeans or bounce back and drop me like a rock, putting me out of my misery once and for all. Nope, he decides to push and race me to the finish. Gee, thanks Chris :-)
We crossed the line in a photo finish, and technically with the same times. This time I edged the old guy, although I think he could have passed if he wanted to. Excellent race.
Snowshoe races have turned out to be much more social than your typical road race for me. From the fastest to the slowest, all shoers are friendly and willing to share stories. We warm up and cool down together and listen to all kinds of stories. The unknown CMS guy turned out to be David Quintal, yet another fast masters runner. David reads my blog so I guess he must be a good guy. Fellow GCS track coaches Richie Blake and Keith Obrien were there, snowshoe racing for the first time and coming darn close to breaking into the top 10. Fellow team mate Scotty G beat fellow age-grouper Bob Dion to score an age-group win in the senior circuit (ok, 50-59 group). All in all a very good day but I'm not looking to do another double anytime soon.
Full results can be found here.