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Downtown Temple,NH

Monday, March 15, 2010

Granite State Snowshoe Championship

For 99.99% of the folks in the Northeast it felt and looked like spring in our backyards. No snow, no signs of winter anywhere. So how the heck do you get psyched up about a snowshoe race?? Well, the short answer is you don't. Ask pretty much anyone who showed up at Great Glen for the 1st ever Granite State Snowshoe Championships and you'd get a similar response...most just wanted the season to end. A string of snowshoe race cancellations will do that. The hardy few (around 35) that showed up were treated to one of the best snowshoe courses and some of the best snowshoe conditions we've had all year.

The course was fantastic and threw just about everything at you including groomed nordic track, single track, deep snow, packed snow, long steady grinds, steep hills, a tunnel, you name it, this course had it. A true championship course. To top it off, at over 6 miles it was also the longest race in the series. I'm pretty sure Great Glen was the only place in the state where it snowed yesterday (all day). A 5 minute drive north or south and you'd be in pouring rain.

Although I understand fully, it was too bad more folks didn't make the trip north for this one. It did not deter the enthusiasm of those of us who wanted one last race (and a boat load of prizes).
So around 11am we all headed through the tunnel to the start area located in the xc-ski stadium. The first 1/2 of the race would take place on the Mt Washington side of RT16 on the network of trails near the base. With the sound of a cannon we were off. With fresh snow on the ground and more falling from the sky I could see nothing for the first 150yds. Totally blind.
I eventually settled in with some familiar folks (Danny Ferriera, Dave Principe, Kurt Gustafson) and we ran nearly all the Great Glen trails together, occasionally changing positions. By the time we exited the nordic trails I had dropped back a bit and was in 6th position (behind Kurt and Dave). I was working hard but generally felt pretty good, but definitely a little tired. The first 3 miles was a little harder than I had anticipated (more hills than I expected). I hit the tunnel around 23 minutes headed for the hills behind the Great Glen Visitor Center.
No pictures please, I'm about to fall down (DD right behind me)
As soon as I hit the first hill my legs failed me. I had nothing. As I hit the first steep climb I stepped on my own shoes and fell to the ground. At the exact same time Mr. Dunham went cruising by. Ouch. Within the next few minutes I would get passed by Danny Ferriera and Chris Dunn as well. I told Chris my legs were toast. I couldn't manage more than 4-5 steps of running before returning to my leisurely wilderness hiking pace. Danny and Chris were slowly slipping away, building nearly a 100yd lead by the time we hit the summit.
My mid-race break actually helped (eventually). By the time I walked to the summit my legs were recharged. My confidence returned and I put my sights on Chris and Danny. The next mile would be all downhill and I opened it up as best I could. I eventually caught and passed Chris about 1/2 way down and caught Danny shortly after. I had marked this section of the course yesterday so I knew exactly what was coming and where we were. Danny did not. I tucked in behind Danny and waited. The course eventually turned back up hill and onto some beautiful single track. I knew we had one more hill but for whatever reason now I was feeling much stronger. I was easily hanging with Danny but didn't want to pass quite yet. As we came out onto the power lines (the steepest, hardest section of the course) I knew we had about 1/4 mile to go. Danny slowed to a power hike for just a couple of steps and I took the opportunity to sneak by and pushed as hard as I could. In a few short steps it would be all down hill and I felt confident I could hold him off if I could stay ahead of him until the short summit.
Best stride I had all day (near the finish of course)
We snaked around and behind the Great Glen buildings and then down one last sweeping turn to the finish. I took one last glance just prior to the finish and cruised in for 7th overall (52:53).

Complete results can be found here.
Pics courtesy of Scott Mason can be found here.

For the record, my calves are KILLING me today.

Now for the good stuff. Afterwords we were treated to the best snowshoe raffle in history, accompanied by beer and cake (what a combo).
I went home with:
- 2 tee-shirts
- 32 serving of Heed (prize for 2nd masters)
- a 2010 Granite State Snowshoe Series hat. I was one of only 6 people who raced all the races in the series
- Kahtoola Micro Spikes (which I eventually traded with DJ Principe for a Nathan Winter Hydration Pack)

Snowshoe season is OFFICIALLY OVER!!!

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