Let the 2011 snowshoe season begin! It's very confusing but trust me, this was the first race of next year :-) The 3.5m loop (results) around Adams Reservoir in Woodford State Park (just outside of Bennington,VT) always seems to have snow, which is probably why it's the 1st race of the snowshoe season each year. Chris Dunn and I tried to round up a few acidotic snowshoers to make the trip with us but instead I was stuck listening to Chris drone on and on about how he was going to beat me. Thanks guys! Just kidding, it was actually a nice uneventful drive, arriving 1 1/2hrs early, with 10-15 cars already in the parking lot. Me thinks some folks were itching to do some snowshoeing.
It seemed a little odd doing a race when I hadn't put on snowshoes since March. All part of the fun I guess. We chatted with some of the regulars and headed over to the start about 1/2hr early to check out the course a bit and try to remember what it was like to run in snowshoes. DD and JJ had marked the course and thought the course would be fast. Woodford isn't a difficult course, doesn't have any real hills but has been tough in the past. This is due to snow conditions. Deep snow, wet snow, deep, wet snow. This year it was just powder. Nice!
The race starts on the access road to the park and goes off like a 5k, heads up the only real hill on the course and then turns into the woods onto some nice single track for the remainder. In my 3rd year running Woodford I thought I'd do something different; take it out a little easier at the start and wait until I hit the single track before picking up the pace. I tucked in behind John Agosto and one other guy early on and could sense Chris right behind me. By the time we hit the single track the top 5 guys were out of sight, never to be seen again. In the past I"d be sucking wind by this time but this year I felt good. The plan worked, who would have thunk it? I passed one guy early on and was content with John pulling me along, finding it easier to follow then to lead. As far as I could tell, Chris was right behind me. Probably a little over a mile in John peeked over his shoulder and slowed on a short climb so I made the pass. Turns out this was the last time I'd see either John or Chris. I'm not sure what happened, whether I got faster or they got slower but within a few minutes I had gapped them enough that I couldn't hear them behind me any more. For the remainder of the race I'd run alone. For the most part I felt good and didn't have any of those 'snowshoe racing is stupid' moments when you wonder why you're doing this. I peeked over my shoulder as I exited the woods for the final 1/3mile finish on the access road. I was all alone so I cruised in, finishing in 6th place o/a with a time of 24:10, nearly 3 minutes faster than last year. Chris and John finished less than a minute behind me.
Good start to the season.
Next up: Peanut Butter Chip Chase 5k on 1/1 and (weather permitting) Beaver Brook 5k Snowshoe Race on 1/2.