This past Saturday I headed down to Salem Massachusetts for the Olde Salem Greens 5k snowshoe race. This would be my second snowshoe race ever and first in almost two years. Weather prognosticators had been telling us all week that a snowstorm arriving on Friday and lasting into Saturday would leave 6+ inches on the ground making for some ideal racing conditions. Unfortunately, they were completely wrong and the first (and only) snowflakes that fell occurred during the last mile of the race.
Despite the lack of new snow, the conditions were actually pretty OK thanks to the tireless efforts of Patrick Smith, Bill Morse and the entire Dungeon Rock Racing Team who hosted the event. They re-worked the course and shoveled snow onto some of the tougher areas making the whole 3.1 mile, golf course route fairly runable - well except for a really steep part near the end. And, the sections that were bare occurred over grassy areas on the fairways so there was no chance of damage to our snowshoes.
The race itself was a bit of a sufferfest. I’ve done a total of 4 snowshoe training runs this season and haven’t been on a track since October. So to say I was a bit unprepared for this race would be a gross understatement. However, I’m looking at this years snowshoe season purely as an opportunity to get some quality speed work in and have a little fun in the process. Very little fun, as it turned out.
Not knowing what my proper snowshoe “race pace” should be, I let the speedsters go and sort of took the first ½ mile of the course pretty easy. Unfortunately, no one told my heart and lungs that fact as they voiced their displeasure early and often. Eventually, I got my legs under me a bit and started reeling people back in. I think I got by 5-6 shoers in the first mile and maybe 2-3 more in the second.
I was closing in on another pack of three at the beginning of the third mile, but it was at that point that I started to tire and quickly shifted into survival mode. I hung on to that spot until right before the end of the third mile when I got passed by one guy like I was standing still. I looked back and could see there were still others who were also closing the gap rather quickly so I focused on keeping upright and working the hills the best I could.
The last .1 miles seemed to last forever. Finally, I could hear (then see) the folks gathered at the finish line at the top of the final hill. I pushed as hard as I could and barely managed to hold off the next closest guy who ended up being Pete Malinowski - an old friend from my days at the North Shore Striders. Later, during our cool-down I learned that Pete’s been snowshoe racing for the past 6 years. So, as a newbie racer, it made me feel pretty good that I was able to stay ahead of him – even if it was only by 7 seconds.
Approximate Splits – Olde Salem Greene 5k: 9:26, 9:10, 10:14, 1:41 = 30:31 (9:50) The Final Results showed I was 4th Master, and finished in 14th place overall out of 97. First master was Acidotics Chris Dunn who is already off to a tremendous 2011 Snowshoe Season.
Overall, I was pleased with my race. Despite the slow time and low finish, it was good to get the first one under my belt and hopefully next time I’ll be able to improve on both as my fitness continues to increase. Although, without any real snow cover around here, it’s hard to know when the “next time” will actually be. The schedule says it will be next Saturday at the Feel Good Farm 8k in Lyndeborough, NH. We’ll see.
Photos courtesy of Krissy K