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.
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.
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).
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
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