photo courtesy of WMAC
Congratulations to Inov-8's Ben Nephew on taking home a strong 2nd place finish at the Turner Trail Snowshoe Race. It was a tough battle the whole way through snowy switchbacks and against some seasoned veterans like Dave Dunham. A gang of 5 runners pressed the pace and jockeyed for position the whole way, and it came right down to the wire! This sweet video footage of the race will show you first hand how bodacious it was out there.. Turner Trail Race To find out the scoop, check out Ben's report-- Read more...
I also encourage you to check out all of the great races, photos, and reports at the WMAC Snowshoe series. This is a group that is doing an awesome job!
Turner Trail Snowshoe Race 2009
After an uncharacteristic 2 month absence from racing, my first race of 2009 was the Turner Trail 4.3m in the hills of Pittsfield State Forest in Western MA. Last year, at a similar race, I had gone out too hard and struggled through most of the race, finishing far off the winning time. Based on that experience, I just wanted to have a solid start to my snowshoe racing this year.
At the start, Matt Cartier shot into the lead. Even though I lack leg speed, I’ve always been able to get out well in snowshoe races. Sometimes my fast starts end up being too long, resulting in some early leg fatigue. However, if you go out too slow, you can end up losing time due to either simple race progression, or deteriorating snow conditions. Fresh groomed snow is always best. The race today would be all on groomed trails or packed single track. I tucked behind Matt and tried to settle into a comfortable pace as everyone else strung out behind. Just as I was about to back off the pace myself, Matt slowed down, and I passed him. Although it got a bit quieter after a couple minutes, someone had come with me. Without even looking, I figured it was one of the Williams College kids I had spotted warming up. I was right.
He seemed pretty content to stay with me, so I just tried to concentrate on the 1.5 mile hill we were climbing. It wasn’t the steepest hill, but it was unrelenting. I don’t think there was a single flat spot until the top, 700 ft up. As we got near the top of the main hill, the Williams kid, Corey, passed me and built a lead of a few seconds. I didn’t feel comfortable going much faster, but I didn’t want to lose contact. I managed to stay within about 5 seconds as we turned left at the top of the hill. I was hoping that we were starting a long downhill section, but it didn’t work out that way. We actually turned onto a narrow rolling section of groomed trail that had short steep hills that finished off my screaming quads. I was still close to Corey, but I was starting to lose sight of him in the dense woods.
After not seeing him for a while, I looked down and couldn’t find any cleat marks. Nice. In my dazed oxygen deprived chase, I had missed a hard left at the start of the big downhill. By the time I got back on course, I had gone from 2nd to 5th place. I probably lost about a minute. I couldn’t see 4th place by the time I started downhill, but soon caught Tim Van Orden, who was surprised to see me. He kindly let me by, and warned me not to try and catch everyone immediately. I was too annoyed at myself to slow down all that much, but I tried to keep things under control. After passing Tim, I spotted Dave Dunham and Tim Mahoney working their way down the thirty or so switchbacks on the new Turner trail. I caught up to Tim, then Dave, and passed each after drowning in powder as they stepped into the fresh snow to let me by. I still couldn’t see Corey, and it was all I could do to hold onto second. The two Tim’s were soon joined by a hard charging Matt Cartier, and I felt like I was an escaped convict being chased by federal marshals. With all the switchbacks, it was impossible for me to get out of sight and run away.
By the time we got the last groomed trail to the finish, my stomach was cramping from all the tight turns. I tried to lengthen my stride as we approached the finish, but my dead quads and hip flexors couldn’t generate any knee lift. Apparently, there was some excitement behind me, as Matt moved all the way to 3rd, and Tim Van Orden moved to 4th, with Dunham and Mahoney in 5th and 6th. Corey won by about 70 seconds, so it would have been interesting to see how close I could have gotten if I had stayed on course. Considering that Corey ran a 25:27 at the 2008 NCAA DIIII XC championships, I’m pretty happy with staying with him for as long as I did considering how inconsistent my training has been lately. I was particularly pleased with my uphill running, as I don’t have large hills to train on anywhere near me, and have not been doing consistent hill intervals.
Brad and Beth Herder did a great job with organizing the race, and with photos and video. Brad takes amazing pictures, and it is easy to see why I would much rather snowshoe during the winter than run on the roads. Results, pics, and video can be found at:
I wore my f-lite 250’s for the race, which fit great with my Dion racing snowshoes. I guess I should thank Bob Dion for supporting the snowshoe series, but Bob did loan Corey snowshoes! I will definitely thank my wife, Steph, for taking care of Gavin for the day; there aren’t many young Dads out there at these snowshoe races!