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Downtown Temple,NH

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sidehiller Snowshoe Race

Saturday I headed up to Center Sandwich with fellow acidotic RACING and GCS teammate Jerry Fitzgibbon for a weekend double at the Sidehiller Snowshoe Race (results). Ok, not a real double, more like a snowshoe series double since Sidehiller is part of the WMAC Snowshoe and Granite State Snowshoe Series. Bonus! Sidehiller would be my 4th WMAC race and 4th GSSS race.
Turned out to be a great day for a race (except for the lack of snow of course). Cold, crisp and sunny made for fast-like-you-read-about conditions. Unfortunately the snow killing rain on Monday forced a significant change to the 4 mile course. The entire race would be held on the fairgrounds and we'd get to know the course very well. The course changed to a 1.7 mile loop mostly around the perimeter of the fairgrounds and would be nearly flat (except for a small hill about 1/2 way around). Most of it would be on lightening fast groomed trails (nearly ice in some locations) with a short section of single track near the end of the loop. Oh, and we'd do the loop 3 times for roughly 5.2 miles of snowshoe speedwork. A quick preview of the course made for a no-brainer decision to swap out my deep cleats and go with the standard cleats today. I didn't want to destroy my deep cleats (again). After swapping out the cleats I took them for a test ride on the course, doing the entire loop so I had a good idea what to expect.
To be honest, I'm not sure if could do a typical (maybe boring) race report. The laps were fast and the action (at least around me) was a lot of back and forth. I don't remember who was doing what on which lap. It was, however, the most racing I've done in any snowshoe race....ever. It seems most races my position is set pretty early and not much happens for the majority of the race. This one was totally different.

A quick look at the players today and I had no problem lining up in the second row. This race was stacked. There were probably 10 to 15 guys who could (and have) beat me on many a day (snow and road). I had a simple game plan (simple plan, hard to execute): jump on Dave Dunham's heels early and hang on as long as possible. At the gun they were off like it was a 5k. It took about 3 seconds for me to end up in about 20th place. Teammate Danny Ferreria was off like a shot, too fast for me but I kept my eye on DD instead. It took a few hundred yards to get things settled out but by the time we hit the first set of woods most were racing single file. Passing would not be a problem on 90% of the course so I was content to hang back and follow...anybody...as long as I could keep DD in my sights. The first lap was quick and I don't really remember where everybody was exactly. I think I made a few passes on the first lap and moved up in the top 13 to 15. I'm pretty sure Eric Morse and Jim Pawlicki were in front of me, along with Danny and DD. The good news was I was still hanging with them. So far so good.

First lap split - 11:12 (1st lap was shorter since the start and finish were not at the same point)

 The second lap things started to pick up and positions were exchanged. DD lead most (if not all) the second lap, followed by Danny and myself (as shown in the picture to the left). I'm not sure if DD had any idea who was actually chasing him down. I didn't see anyone sneak any peeks over their shoulders. I know he knew we were there. Because of the conditions, you could clearly hear the cleats digging in the hard snow and ice. We all heard those damn cleats the entire 5.2 miles. Near the end of the second lap as we headed up past the barns it felt like DD and Danny had slowed a bit. My momentum started to carry me right by them so I picked up the pace and tried a mini move, hoping to catch them napping and maybe put a little distance between us. Looking back, it was probably pretty stupid making any type move with nearly 2 miles to go! Anyways, all I did was wake the sleeping giants. By the time we got back down to the finish area for the completion of lap #2, both had passed me again.

Second lap split - 11:28

The third lap I probably made my next big mistake. Instead of being content and letting Danny and DD set the pace, I decided to make a move (on the only hill of all places) and take the lead. Once again I could hear those damn cleats! We got caught up in a little traffic as we headed into the single track for the last time. No problems though, I was yelling "on your left", "runners coming through", whatever I could to let them know we were about to pass. By the time we hit the groomed trails for the final 1/2 mile my legs were toast. As we came by the barns and took the final turn towards the finish I got caught up in some traffic and Danny and DD went flying by. I had nothing left for the short little climb just prior to the 50m downhill finish. As I crested the hill, for a brief second (literally) I thought I had no chance of catching these guys. Then I decided to give it a try. I ran as fast as I could run on snowshoes and wouldn't you know it I was catching DD (Danny was long gone by then). He knew I was coming because he kept looking back! Unfortunately I ran out of room and came up 1 second short! An unbelievable race from start to finish. Thanks guys!

Third lap split - 11:25

Top 20 Overall
Place   First   Last   Gender   Age   MM   SS
1 Kevin  Tilton  28 31 8
2 Josh  Ferenc  28 31 20
3 Jim  Johnson  32 31 25
4 Peter  Mallett  26 31 47
5 Charles  Therriault  24 32 12
6 Ben  Nephew  34 32 32
7 Bob  Jackman  27 33 25
8 Tim  Cox  36 33 44
9 Danny  Ferriera  27 34 1
10 Dave  Dunham  45 34 4
11 Steve  Wolfe  45 34 5
12 Eric  Morse  44 34 44
13 Jim  Pawlicki  35 34 51
14 David  Principe  43 35 3
15 Stan  Snow  43 35 5
16 Dave  Quintal  46 35 33
17 John  Pajer  47 36 5
18 Reeder  Fahnestock  30 36 15
19 Chris  Dunn  41 36 35
20 Kurt  Gustafson  25 36 47

photo credits - Jamie Gemmiti
Check out the link for some great photos from the race.

Top Masters

Place Overall First   Last   Gender   Age   Team Name   MM   SS
1 10 Dave  Dunham  45 CMS/Atlas  34 4
2 11 Steve  Wolfe  45 Acidotic  34 5
3 12 Eric  Morse  44 CMS  34 44
4 14 David  Principe  43 TNT  35 3
5 15 Stan  Snow  43 GSRT  35 5
6 16 Dave  Quintal  46 CMS  35 33
7 17 John  Pajer  47    36 5
8 19 Chris  Dunn  41 Acidotic  36 35
9 22 Jeremiah  Fitzgibbon  53 Acidotic  37 51
10 24 Ken  Poulin  49    37 53


Jim said...

You ran a great race Steve. Love how you made a move in the third loop instead of getting content. That's racing!

Steve Wolfe said...

Thanks Jim. I credit you for keeping me connected with DD during the 1st and 2nd lap. A couple of times I tried to pass you but couldn't do it, but you kept me racing hard. Like I said, that was by far the most RACING I've done in a snowshoe race and it was an incredible amount of fun. I wish they could all be like that (except the getting beat by a second thing)!