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Downtown Temple,NH

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Turner Trail Snowshoe Race

This weekend I opted for the 2nd WMAC snowshoe series race (Turner Trail 5M) instead of the 'local' Olde Salem Green Classic. My decision to travel 6 hrs with jj and dd and be within spittin' distance of New York was based on a longer and potentially harder course. After last weeks sprint I was really looking for something different and boy did I find it.
For now, I'll skip over the details of the ride out. That could be a post all by itself. Let's just say it was amusing and entertaining.
Turner Trail (results), located in Pittsfield State Forest (Pittsfield,MA) is now one of my favorite snowshoe races, and one of the hardest. About an hr before race time Jim Johnson, Dave Dunham and myself did a 3M warm-up on snowshoes up an access road and then back down the last 1 and 1/2 miles or so on the actual course, meeting up with Tim Van Orden on the way down. The course would be run in reverse of last years race and would be a little longer.

A few familiar faces at the line, including Matt Westerlund, the Mahoni (Tim and Abby), Ken Clark and a group of Williams College kids, including last years winner - Corey Watts. Did I mention yet it was cold? 10-12 degrees with a nice breeze to keep it honest. As the whistle went off, the usual suspects jumped to the front. About 100yds in Tim Van Orden went down, tripped up by one of the Williams kids. He was up and back near the front in no time. The first 1/4 mile was the only part on snowmobile trails so if you wanted to pass now was the time. The rest of the course was all single track, very narrow with deep snow on the sides, making passing difficult.

The Climb
As we entered the single track for the 2 mile climb I was right behind Matt, with Dave just a few steps ahead. The dozens of switchbacks allowed you to see quite a few of the shoers in front and behind you. It was pretty clear after a few minutes of climbing that I wasn't going to stick with Matt or Dave (or anyone else up front for that matter). I was in 8th at this point and I wasn't even sure I would be able to hold this position. I tucked in behind Jon Levinsohn (Williams College & the kid that took down Tim V) for quite a while. I actually tried to pass a couple of times. He asked if I wanted to go by and I said yes....only to change my mind 3 seconds later. I was sucking wind and hurting bad. If I passed I wanted to be able to stay in front. I wasn't sure I could do that so I chickened out. Finally, I noticed Ken Clark was gaining on me, only 10 yds back or so. I asked to pass and Jon kindly stepped aside. Luckily he was hurting more than me (if that was possible) and dropped back pretty quickly. Ken did not, and stayed on my heels for nearly 3 1/2 miles. I really, really, really need to work on my climbing.

The Top
As the switchbacks ended and we got near the top of the ridge, the course didn't get any easier. In fact, the 1 1/2 miles or so across the ridge was almost as tough as the climb. The snow had drifted pretty deep and the tracks I followed were of the 6 guys in front..that's it. Unfortunately for me, they all apparently had an insanely long stride, which surprisingly didn't match my 1/2 shoe stride. I ended up muscling through the nearly foot deep powder, making my own tracks. Thanks guys. Way to think about the short-striders. Couldn't ONE of you had dragged your feet or something? Geesh.
The trail on top was one of the most picturesque sections I've ever snowshoed, race or otherwise. Completely snow covered, trees and all, dead quiet, virgin snow and the trees cracking from the cold. It was also the longest 1 1/2 miles EVER. The entire time I kept looking for the access road we would need to cross (that we warmed up on). I knew from there it was about 1 1/2 miles of downhill to the finish. This section went on and on and on, up and down, up and down. All the while Ken Clark was on my tail (you can still see him in the pic in his familiar yellow shirt).

The Descent
Just before we crossed the access road I tripped on a steep downhill section, face planting in the soft powder. Whoops. I recovered quickly, and could no longer hear Ken behind me. I was pretty confident if I could hold him off until the descent I'd be ok. I wasn't taking any chances and cranked it up on the last section (or so I thought)...just to be safe. I occasionally glanced back but didn't see anyone but continued on at a pretty quick clip (for me). This section was a lot of fun, especially since I knew the finish was near. A nice, controlled descent. Too bad there wasn't anyone in front to chase. In fact, once Matt dropped me about 1/2 way up the first climb, I never saw anyone in front of me again. I need to figure out how to stay closer to these guys. In the end I finished in 50:58 for the roughly 5.2 mile course, 7th overall (77 finishers). 50+ minutes is a LONG time to be racing on snowshoes. This was a tough course...and I loved every minute of it! Great job folks.

Photo Credit - all photos above taken by Berkshire Sports
More photos can be found here and here.

Here's some video, also taken by the folks at Berkshire Sports. Most of it is taken on the initial climb (early on), which explains me still being close to Matt. There's also some video of shoers 2-8 coming down the last hill as a bonus. Corey was flying down, as were most others, so be sure to check out the ending. Me, not so much. If you want a laugh, check out my style at around 6:25 in the video (note how I'm looking behind me to see if anyone is catching up).

acidotic RACING Crashes CMS Team Picture!
I guess the guys (and girl) of CMS felt bad for me...standing there all alone, with no other acidotic team mates within 160 miles, drinking my hot cocoa all by myself...alone and cold. Honestly, I was surprised they didn't ask me to take the photo?

Jim Johnson, Dave Dunham, Tim Van Orden, me, Tim and Abby Mahoney
Photo Credit - Jim Johnson via Ken Clark

Place First Name Last Name Age Sex Club Duration Pace
1 JIM JOHNSON 32 Male CMS 0:45:10 9:02
2 COREY WATTS 21 Male Williams 0:46:42 9:20
3 DAVE DUNHAM 45 Male CMS 0:46:59 9:23
4 TIM Van Orden 41 Male CMS 0:48:20 9:40
0:48:50 9:46
6 TIM MAHONEY 30 Male CMS 0:49:20 9:52
7 STEVE WOLFE 45 Male Acidotic 0:50:58 10:11
8 KEN CLARK 47 Male HTC 0:52:15 10:27
0:53:28 10:41
0:54:34 10:54
11 ABBY MAHONEY 31 Female CMS 0:54:48 10:57


Jim Hansen said...

Sounds like a tough race, Steve, but the pictures and video are cool. I liked seeing the downhill section. Lots of stability needed to stay balanced on snowshoes!

Corey Smith said...

you are a running machine! Great blog..You keep me (newby) very motivated. Thank you

DoubleJ said...

Steve, GREAT job on Sat. I agree with you... my favorite race for sure (so far). Even though it hurt BAD, I loved the top of the course...the snow covered trees and the crackling, etc. Awesome place to run.

Steve Wolfe said...

Note to snowshoe RD's - THIS is the kind of course that makes us happy...eventually :-)