First off, big thanks to Ryan and Ian for organizing a fantastic series and also a big thanks to Mindy and Val who timed every race in the cold, as well as the other volunteers. This race series is a fantastic event and a lot of challenging fun, giving us something to look forward to each winter.
That being said, the generous amounts of restful sleep helped. I still felt out of it this morning, but I felt a little better.
So, I didn't know what to expect. My only real goal was to defend my second place in the series standings. I had my eye on Dave R. who was one place behind me, but as the race unfolded, I would have to battle somebody else as well.
Boundary Trail (0-1.5 miles)
Boundary Trail (0-1.5 miles)
|The start. Photo by Jim Dunn.|
We were off. Thankfully, overall the conditions were fast. Ian (who crushed it this race big time, coming in a strong second place) had also assured me that there was plenty of elbow room and the trench warfare of the White Out race wouldn't be an issue. He was right. Even on the single track, it wasn't hard to pass folks if one wanted to.
The pace was quick and I think I was in seventh place after the first quarter of a mile, with Jim, Ian, Scott, Jeremy, Jeremy and Doug in front of me. About what I expected and for now I was feeling fine.
Switchback to the Summit and Beyond (1.5-3 miles)
|Summit. Photo by Jim Dunn.|
There's a pretty grinding gradual climb on the Boundary Trail and that sapped my strength a bit. A decline and then another climb that goes past the registration area followed by the switchback to the summit.
I let Chuck, Doug and another guy pass me here. Just didn't have much energy. To add insult to the matter, a large stick/small branch became entangled through the foothole in my snowshoe and I fell with a big whomp. It took a few extra seconds to unwrangle it free. Doug or the other guy asked if I was okay, and I replied yes before cursing up a storm and angrily tossing the branch aside.
Thankfully, reached the summit. Then rejoined the Boundary Trail. Felt like absolute dogshit. A portion of the trail here is the same as before but going the other way a mile and a quarter or so later. Saw Kate and Chandra here, who would later tell me my face was literally green. Not surprised, given how I was feeling then.
To the End (3-4.7 miles)
|Flying on the final descent. Photo by Jim Dunn.|
|Finish. Photo by Katy Hazzard.|
After running on the Boundary Trail going the other way, the trail turned right. It was here I saw Andy walking back the other way with a bummed look on his face. I asked him if he was okay and he said he pulled a hamstring. That sucks to see that happen to a friend and teammate.
However, for me, I was starting to recover a little. And I now became aware that while Dave R. was behind me, Chuck H. was ahead of me. He was also pretty close behind me in the series standings. I absolutely had to keep him at least in sight if I had a chance of keeping second place. This gave me a second wind. Mind over matter, screw being sick.
The course would meander around and then climb back up the mountain. However, this ascent was very manageable and much easier than the first ascent. I would never catch Chuck, Doug or the other guy in front of me, but I was keeping them in sight.
Summit again, then a very, very fun steep and fast descent off the mountain. More lunar running here, with big, wide open strides and soft impacts with snowshoes dispersing the impact over packed but soft snow.
Descent over, than small rolling hills on the Boundary Trail to the finish. Crossed the line in 46:33, good enough for eight place. Despite that being my worst placing of the three races this year, considering I was sick and also this course doesn't fit my strengths, I'll gladly take it and am pretty happy with the result.
And while it was very close, I did end up just barely holding off Chuck in the series standings (great racing, Chuck). Glad I was cognizant of him being close and dug down deep as a result. Honored to finish in second place behind Scott H., a really great guy. Good fun, looking forward to next year, and in the more immediate term, the Bradbury Trail series this summer.
As for this illness, feeling okay. I think I'm on the mend, but the coming days will determine that for real. Confident I'll be fine for the Chamberlain Half next weekend though.
Ran 4.7 miles @ 9:57/mile pace.
Official Time: 46:33
Trails, with mostly packed snow.
Lower 40s, overcast.
Dion 121 Snowshoes, Nike Waffle Racer VIII, long tights, short sleeved shirt, cap.