It was so cold four hours before the race that my two co-pilots for the 2.25 hour trip north to Center Sandwich, NH had other thoughts. I talked my friend Brett Rickenbach into the race a few days before. It would have been his first snowshoe race. Kristen on the other hand, had to be talked out of it, after learning that I would be driving alone. Standing in bitter cold temps taking photos would be torture. Alas, I rolled out of the driveway in the VW GTI with the ambient temperature guage reading 5 degrees solo with two stations on Sirius Satellite Radio, Metal station 27, and Faction station 28 keeping me company. I arrived at 10am to register with Paul Kirsch and do a warmup with CMS and TNT folks. I had too many layers on and was pretty hot upon return to the car to get my gear for the 11am race. I went with three light layers up top, two pairs of running pants, and two pairs of gloves. I'd say the temperature was close to ten degrees but thankfully not as windy as the previous two days.
This race was a regional qualifier for snowshoe Nationals in New York State in March. The level of competition was stacked. A few new faces were upon us from CMS like Peter Mallett and Eric Morse. The usual suspects who have been in the top five all winter were there. The course was going to be a quick one with three loops around the fairgrounds which Paul felt was about 1.7 miles for each loop. There were a few hills to remind you that they exist but overall a fair course with some single track in the woods to get your attention. The race went out like a bullet which was no surprise. Some of the course was on ice and the Dion's held up fine if perhaps loosening the rivets on the front of the cleats.
I got through the first loop under 11 minutes feeling tired and dreaded two more loops. Dave Dunham was just ahead mixing it up with a small pack. Steve Wolfe went by me minutes later and I had no response. My second loop was more than a minute slower. I seem to recall close to 23 minutes on the clock. I focused on Eric Morse on the last lap and wanted to get this race over with. He hung in there to finish seven seconds in front of me. I was wiped out. I finished in 13th place with a time of 34:51. Kevin Tilton took the win with Josh Ferenc taking the silver and Jim Johnson settling for bronze. My Garmin calculated that I covered 4.86 miles and averaged 7:11 pace along the way.
I changed into some dry clothes and was the first to redeem my bib number ticket for Tomato Basil soup and a slice of bread at Mocha Rizing. I went back to the finish line to chat with the competitors on their races and the rest of the season. Reeder Fahnestock talked about shoveling snow to get a rail in order to get Exeter ready for next Saturday. We need some snow. Dave Dunham mentioned that Northfield is all ice at the moment. He'll get an update on Wednesday. Dave gave me his bib as he was leaving for home. Thus I caught up with Robert Jackman, Dave Quintal, and Ben Nephew for another cup of soup and bread.
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