Sweeeet race! Ryan and Ian have absolutely dialed in their race directing skillz. Killer terrain. Trail marking perfect. Excellent sponsorship. Tons of loaner shoes from Dion (thanks Ryan and Chris). Love the informal prizes. Some serious carrots to motivate racers to shoe-the-line and race all three events in the series (cool badass winter hats for all badasses; two pairs of Dion racing snowshoes to two lucky badasses). And the snow gods must have been in a good mood this season.
I went into this race with zero expectations. I've been skiing pretty hard the last month and haven't run in 26 days. I skate skied 35K yesterday in 9" of soft snow and then skate skied another 13K this morning as a warm-up for the snowshoe race. Given the debacle that was my last (and first) snowshoe race (the Bradbury Squall, the first race in the Bradbury series), I was expecting to go out and jog for an hour. Indeed, I didn't even write up a race report for the Squall. Here it is: It hurt and I was humbled.
Today's race was 180° different. I went out slooow and at the top of the first climb actually felt as fresh as at the start. The climb had been a nice warmup. On the rolling trail after the descent I cautiously decided to pick up the pace a bit and took the pull for my pace group (David Roberts and Red Meat) about the time that we passed Jamie. On the 2nd climb, I kept the pace rockpile-steady and passed Jeremy. I didn't really look around but I sensed that Red Meat was a bit back and that he'd re-catch me on the descent to the start area. He didn't and I was running alone until I caught gIANt at the start of lap #2, which was, of course, a repeat of the initial switchback climb. Ian kindly let me by. I didn't want to blow the whole gas tank on the 2nd time up the switchback, remembering the hurt from the first race. I thought I took the climb conservatively but I was breathing hard at the top. I also saw that Red Meat and gIANt weren't too far behind. I used the first part of the descent for some recovery and then regained what I thought was a good pace and was surprised at how easy I could maintain it. I saw no more runners in front or behind so and I was all alone from here on out. I carried this into the last climb and repeated my rockpile steady pace. I descended well and sprinted to the field finish. Hmm, no arrow sign into the field. Instead I found a right arrow sign taking me up above the feldspar quarry. As flies to wanton boys, are we to the race directors. They kill us for their sport.
Despite my premature sprint, I felt good and pushed on, finishing in I think 7th place and unfortunately, one place off of the masters podium. I'm quite sure that I will be paying for this tomorrow but hopefully the DOMS won't last too long...I have the 50K Rangeley Loppet Saturday : )
Really huge thanks to all of the volunteers who sacrificed their digits to stand around and register and time runners. If you've never done this in the winter, please volunteer and you will quickly appreciate that Maine winters are really cold.
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