Mar 052012

by Jeff Walker –

Snowshoe racers like a big dump

hanging on to Ian’s tail (I think I was closer than this picture shows)
Luckiest snowshoe series in New England? Or do Ryan and Ian have a direct line with the snow gods?
Regardless, we got dumped with snow Thursday and the snow survived Saturday’s rain allowing us to race ┬áin snowshoes at the final Bradbury Winter series race, the Bradbury Blizzard.
I had not been planning on running this race all winter as it conflicted with my annual Rangeley Loppet weekend but as race-week progressed I was more in the mood to snowshoe race than ski so I registered online last minute. I ski-raced 25K yesterday having dropped down from the 50K because my 12 mile classic ski on Friday left me feeling very un-fresh going into a double-race weekend. After the race I felt great and wished that I had stayed with the 50K but I’m sure this would have changed 180 degrees by about 1 mile into lap 2. Anyway, I left Rangeley this morning and made it to the Bradbury parking lot 10 minutes before race start! My warm-up consisted of running to the registration desk to get my bib.
The course was again moved to the east side of Bradbury to avoid the icy trails. My only real goal – and this was a huge longshot – was to beat Ian by a minute so I could come in 2nd in the Badass standings. The gun went off and as usual, everyone shot off like HS boys and I was out of breath by 1/4 mile in. A gap was opening between the Ian+Scott+Andy pace group and the rest of us so I passed David and Jamie so I could keep Ian in sight. I was in full wounded gnu breathing mode at this point but Ian slowed and I caught them without much effort and we actually ran the middle 2.5 miles at a fairly modest pace. The course used lots of the twisty-turny singletrack and this was even harder to run in snowshoes than in the summer as it required efficient foot placement and agility. We had a tight train with me following Scott following Andy following Ian. Somewhere around mile 2.5 a very small (like 10-15ft) gap opened between Andy and Ian and I really didn’t want to lose Ian so I accelerated past Scott and Andy to make insure that I stayed right on Ian’s tail. At some point I noticed that Andy had indeed been dropped. We continued at what I thought was a pretty modest pace and I started to get itchy with about 1.5 miles to go. I aborted a couple of moves around Ian with 1.25 to go and finally found my chance at mile 4. I had to pump up the pace and attempt to drop Ian if I was going to beat him by a minute. I was now back in full-on wounded gnu breathing mode and I thought I saw Ian fall back a little but that was short lived (if indeed it happened at all). We did manage to drop Scott though. We finally came out onto the link trail and Ian effortlessly passed me and encouraged me to stay on him. Yeh right. I did manage to stay within about 10s of him for 3rd place in the race and 3rd place overall (thanks Jeremy for having some other commitment today!).
Scott came in not too far behind me and not too far behind Scott were Jamie (sweet race Jamie!) and Andy and Peter K. and David and Zak. As always, the race was followed by good food, conversation, fire, and awards. And the Atayne badass shirts are pretty sweet too.
Jamie letting me by so I can close the gap with Scott, Andy, and Ian
Only 3 racers to go (I’m not counting Judson)