Monday, March 11, 2013

Granite State Snowshoe Championship

The train 300 meters after the start.
JJ followed by Mark, Greg, Kevin, Dave, and I
Photo by Gianina Lindsey
 Jay Curry and I packed his car up and arrived at Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown, NH 1.25 hours later where his team, Acidotic, was hosting the Granite State Snowshoe Championship. After signing up, I got a course briefing from Acidotic’s Chris Dunn. This helped me get a mental picture of the figure eight course which I saw on a map the night before. It would be a rolling course with plenty of rail (75%) which Chris had to educate me on as I never heard that term used (rail) to describe single track. I did an easy 1.8 mile warm up 30 minutes before the 10:00 race start out on the pavement that left the park. The direct sun was warm but I figured we would not see much in the race.

I changed my shirt, secured the Native eyewear, and headed down to the lower parking lot to step into my Dion 121 Snowshoes. I did an easy 400m on the trail before bumping into CMS teammates, Greg Hammett, Kevin Tilton, BAA’s Mark Miller, and Jim Johnson. It was going to be a fast race. Then I found Dave Dunham who saw the course the day before and was finishing his warm up. I conferred with him on the layout and what type of pace he felt was sustainable. I got behind Kevin Tilton at the start line. The race of less than 100 competitors set off from a narrow (5 athlete wide) start before quickly rising into rail (single track). I got behind Dave Dunham. Jim had the lead followed by Mark, Greg and Kevin. The race climbed along gentle rolling hills on single track. There were some tight turns but certainly negotiable as I followed behind Dave. Kevin was pulling away from Dave about a mile into the race and I could not longer see the top three. Once I got out to a wide fire road, I felt good enough to pass Dave and check inventory, asking him how he felt. We came out to a field where I could see the top four guys in the same order as we started in but with some distance on Dave and I. Jim had 250 yards on me while Kevin had 150. I pulled away from Dave and closed in on Kevin a bit before losing sight of him while course went back into single track off the ski mobile trail.

Minutes later, to my surprise, I was gaining on Greg and Mark while Kevin found second place. I was really motivated and engaged in closing the gap. I saw progress as the real estate shortened between Greg and I. Mark was a stride ahead of him. We came upon another fire road and we started a good climb and I gained. I could hear Dave not too far behind. I eventually caught Mark on a single track and gave him a tap of encouragement. Then I slowly went after Greg who was not ready to quit but seemed to be laboring. Our strides and effort seemed to match while we got back out onto the fire road. I felt I had another gear but was really cautious as I did not want to disturb a sleeping giant in Greg. It was here that the snow underneath was soft from direct sun light. There were snow mobile tracks but footing was fine as we gained shade. I glanced at my Garmin (4.22 miles) knowing the course was just over 6 miles. I almost mentioned what we had left to Greg but didn’t (he mentioned after the race that he wished he knew how much left remained). I soon got around. Kevin was not too far ahead, maybe 300m. I got a few steps into what turned out to be the last of the single track. Still, I had no idea where, what, and how much we had to cover for terrain. I had no time to glance at the Garmin and had to focus on staying on track, literally. I focused on trying to drop Greg and go after Kevin who was no more than 150 meters ahead. There was certainly purpose to my stride. We had some switch backs that I started to recognize - we headed out on this part of the course in the opening mile.

I figured I was running out of room to catch Kevin because I heard voices in the distance, perhaps a sign of the finish line? Greg was back on my heels, showing he was hungry to end this race in a hurry. I dropped out from the single track and Greg got loud with effort. He pulled onto my left shoulder 40 yards from the finish line. We sprinted for third place but it felt like slow motion. I heard the folks at the line with anticipation. I almost dove at the line but just leaned over as we passed. It was a mad rush of a finish for us. I still had the adrenaline rushing through me minutes later. I was so excited about the full effort from start to finish. Dave kept pace under control early on and did not quit as he was on my heels for 2/3rds of the race. Greg pushed me and kept me honest for the last two miles. That is classic racing. It was awesome. On my snowshoe race scale, this effort and course are tops in my book. This was the first snowshoe race where I felt I got stronger as the race progressed. As I closed in on those ahead of me early on, it gave me confidence. I never felt that in a snowshoe race before.

Greg (120) and I sprinting for the finish
Photo by Gianina Lindsey
I swallowed a few chocolate chip cookies and ran a road cool down with Dave, Kevin, and Jim (giving him crap that the yellow and blue does not look good on him). I picked up Vermont Maple Syrup and a bag of chocolate chip cookies and brownies for third place overall. Later on, I picked up a raffle for Poco’s Bow Street Cantina in Portsmouth, NH. The team took first place as Melissa Donais closed out the scoring while getting the silver medal for the women. Thanks to Jay Curry for driving and keeping my nerves calm on the way up to the race. He would finish in a respectable 33rd place.

Granite State Snowshoe Championship
Allenstown, New Hampshire
Place Name             Age S    City State      Club                        Time             Pace
===== =================== == = =============== == ==============================
1 Jim Johnson         35 M Madison NH            BAA                                     43:22 6:59
2 Kevin Tilton         31 M North Conway NH Central Mass Striders/INOV8      46:24 7:28
3 James Pawlicki     38 M Lynn MA                 Central Mass Striders              46:29 7:29
4 Greg Hammett      35 M Chesterfield NH      Central Mass Striders               46:30 7:29
5 Dave Dunham     48 M Bradford MA           Central Mass Striders                  47:27 7:39
6 Mark Miller          32 M Parts Unknown NH BAA                                        48:22 7:47
7 Danny Ferreira    30 M Concord NH             acidotic RACING                      49:35 7:59
8 Anthony Parillo  28 M Sherborn MA                                                            51:11 8:15
9 Phil Erwin             45 M Ridge NY                  acidotic RACING                  51:17 8:16
10 Chris Dunn        44 M Strafford NH             acidotic RACING                    51:25 8:17
23 Melissa Donais 29 F North Andover MA Central Mass Striders                       56:28 9:06


  1. I think if your first name is Jim, you were destined to have an awesome day! Great race and report. I'll never forget that sprint finish. The intense picture captures it well!

  2. Thanks Greg. That picture said it all. See you Sunday.