Curly's Record Run Snowshoe RaceAlthough not originally planned, I decided to run Curly's Record Run (results) on Sunday and complete my first snowshoe double of the season. JJ picked me up at 6am for the 3hr ride waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out to western Mass. Curly's would take place in the Pittsfield State Forest, in fact the start/finish was at the same exact location of the Turner Trail snowshoe race I did a few weeks ago (my favorite course to date). Curly's would be a totally different course but would include many of the same great elements of Turner.
Surprisingly (not), we were the first ones there but the lot filled up quickly. All told I think they had around 90 snowshoers, quite a large crowd for a race in the middle of nowhere. Heck, even the western Mass folk have to drive over an hour to get there :-)
I was a little tired, only getting about 3hrs of sleep, but figured the cold air would wake me right up in no time. Oddly, my legs felt ok, all things considered. Temps were hovering around 20, no wind and snow conditions near PERFECT. A bunch of us (mostly CMS dudes and dudettes....and me) went out for a 3 mile warm up run on the snowmobile trails about an hr or so before the start. If the course was anything like the snowmobile trails then conditions couldn't be any better. Plenty of snow, packed down and frozen solid.
I got course descriptions from a couple of folks (including the RD) and had a good idea what to expect. We'd be climbing some of the same hills as Turner but would be using different trails. We'd be running a counter-clockwise loop with 1000+ climbing in the first half followed by a killer vertical drop on an old ski trail before hitting some rollers with about a mile to go. All in all the course was 4 miles in length.
We got our final instructions and off we went. The regular guys (Jim Johnson, Tim Van Orden, Tim Mahoney and Matt Westerlund) got out fast along with 1st time snowshoer Mike Quintel (CMS). In fact, Mike got out really fast, jumping right on Jim's heels at the start. After a short trip up the access road we hung a left onto the single track and would stay mostly on single track the rest of the way. The trails were ideal for racing, plenty of grip and fast. The next couple of miles snaked along the side of the hill before heading nearly straight up the side of the mountain. The climb was much harder than Turner a few weeks ago but not as long. The first few miles wasn't all climbing this time, broken up nicely with some rollers before and after the major climb. About 1/2 way up the climb Ross Krause (4th o/a) passed me and left me in the dust. Matt Westerlund wasn't too far ahead so I tried to keep him in my sites. It seems a lot of snowshoe races I end up in no mans land (no one in sight), which makes for a tough race. I like to be able to to see somebody, anybody in order to force me to push just a little harder. It doesn't necessarily matter if I catch them, I just want to make sure I don't go into coast mode and cruise along. In fact, the person doesn't even have to be in front of me. Snowshoers behind me have the exact same affect surprisingly. In this race I had both for most of the time: Matt in front and Paul Bazanchuck pushing me along not far behind. Honestly, Paul was doing a better job of pushing me then Matt was at pulling me. Matt was just a little too far ahead, unfortunately.I managed to hold Paul off until about 1/2 way down the insanely steep ski trail. He finally went flying by on the inside on one of the many sharp turns along the way. Unfortunately for him, his lead wouldn't last very long. Right as we hit the bottom of the long hill the course took a sharp left onto a single track. Paul's momentum carried him right by the turn before one of the volunteers yelled out that he missed the turn. By that time I too had hit the bottom but managed to bang the sharp left and jump in front again. I knew from the course description prior to the race we had about 1 mile to go but it wasn't going to be easy. The last mile had lots of rollers and lots of turns. I was never really sure how much we had left and the surroundings did not look familiar at all. Matt was still in front but I really didn't think I had any chance of catching him. I was hoping Paul wasn't too close behind because I really would have felt bad if I just squeaked out a victory over him, knowing he lost a few seconds on a missed turn. As it turned out I managed to put some time on Paul over the last mile and comfortably slipped in behind Matt in the overall standings, 7th overall and 2nd masters.
I felt 100% better than I did at Turner 2 weeks ago. Both were tough courses (I think overall Turner was harder, probably due more to conditions). Curly's is a tough course but it was just enough of everything (climbing, twisty single tracks, suicidal descents, flats and rollers) to make for a terrific course and a great race. Add to that probably ideal snowshoe racing conditions and I have no complaints. I think Turner is still my favorite overall course, but Curly's is a close second. Absolutely loved it. After another 3 mile cool down run on the snowmobile trails I was done for the day. James, take me home.
I managed to get my mug in the CMS family album once again. Below represents 8 of the top 9 finishers. Congrats to Jim for his 83rd win of the season (or something like that). The boy is undefeated on snowshoes this season, pretty impressive.
Lots of records today:
- Jim had the 3rd fastest time ever at Curly's
- Jim set the age record for 32 (28:54)
- Abby broke her own course record (35:00)
- Abby also set the age record for 31 (35:00)
- Matt set the age record for 37 (32:53)
- Tim Van Orden set the age record for 41 (29:57)
- Steve Wolfe set the age record for 45 (33:19)
- Paul Bazanchuck set the age record for 55 (34:25)
L to R: Matt Westerlund (6th), Mike Quintal (5th), Abby Mahoney (9th), Tim Mahoney (3rd), Jim Johnson (1st), Paul Bazenchuck (8th), Tim Van Orden (2nd), me (7th).
Photo credits: Brad Herder, Berkshire Sports and JJ