Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dion Snowshoes 2014 U.S. National Snowshoe Championships

Dion Snowshoes 2014 U.S. National Snowshoe Championships
Saturday March 1, 2014
Prospect Mountain, Woodford , VT

Krissy and I packed up the GTI and headed to Bennington, VT for the 2014 Dion Snowshoes United States National Snowshoe Championships on Friday. Todd Callaghan and I made the trip two weeks earlier so I was pretty relaxed about the navigation which comes down to just over a three hour drive from the North Shore. The approach toward this south western part of Vermont is beautiful. Bennington is 45 minutes east of Albany, NY. We arrived at the Bennington Center of Arts to pick up our numbers (Krissy was running in the Citizens 5K). I stopped by the Dion Snowshoe merchandise table to swap out some busted cleats for her snowshoes. After that was sorted, I stopped by to talk with Nancy Steffen who was handling the team entries. I made sure our CMS team was registered correctly as there was team scoring for 10K. Our Central Mass Striders – Dion men’s team had a total of thirteen athletes: six open and seven masters including me. I am considered a master as I will be 40 at the end of the year. I was looking forward to the new age bracket for competition.  I bumped into CMS mates – Ken Tripp, Dave Dunham, Dave Lapierre and Richard Bolt (in from CA) who has a lot of race history in a CMS uniform. It was cool to have him in from the West Coast racing with us again. Dave and Ken confirmed the social media hype that the 10K course was faster than what we had dealt with a few weeks back.  I also heard that Tim Van Orden made some passing lanes where needed up on the mountain. This was music to my ears.  An hour later we headed to Ramuntos for dinner where I dove into a plate of Eggplant Parmesan.

Krissy and I woke up around 7:30 on Saturday. It was nice to be just 15 minutes away from the mountain. I grabbed a sesame bagel and a cup of oatmeal at Dunkin Donuts. CMS teammates, Abbey and Sam Wood trailed and sat down next to us. I was amused by the locals in and out.  Everyone knows everyone. We pulled into the parking lot at Prospect Mountain an hour before my 10K start. It was 90% full. The parking lot shadowed the ski center below. Audible was the announcer welcoming all Snowshoe athletes and spectators. Over 400 athletes from 18 different countries were in attendance. The buzz was positive on a cold Saturday morning under sunny skies in Woodford, VT. I handed out some new CMS hats that I picked up earlier in the week before getting ready for my warm up on foot around the parking lot with Ethan Nedeau and Brett Rickenbach. 

10 minutes before the start
Photo by KrissyK
I went back into the lodge and got my racing gear before taking a few light strides and got on the far right of the starting line. The start went off flying allowing us to eat the exhaust of a lead snowmobile. The sound of snowshoes stomping was awesome. I was surrounded by teammates which was comforting. We buzzed around the start a few loops making it very friendly for spectators like my brother, Chuck, who traveled three hours with friend Sandy. I rolled with the short ups and downs looking forward to wide trail to move up a few spots. Passing on any single track was a risky option that would be considered after 5K if needed. I let Richard Bolt get in front of me on the first section of single track and gave him some guidance on the CMS mates ahead (Todd Callaghan and Ben Nephew). I was next to Tim Mahoney for a bit as Krissy caught a few photos for evidence. We started the climb and got a chance to get around Todd and Robert Jackman. Todd was breathing hard. Ethan Nedeau and Ross Krause were not too far ahead. I managed to get past Ethan before we hit some single track and I settled in and waited for the next climb. I felt good and got a good rhythm, now on a wider carriage road taking us up a few kilometers to the top of Prospect Mountain. I trailed two guys that were holding their own and we all had the same cadence. My 5K split before the summit was 25:47. I heard some placing and heard that I was in 21st. Then I saw Tim Van Orden taking some video or pictures. He mentioned that CMS was kicking arse. I said something like “hell yeah” and zipped by him. We had some nice downhill and I opened it up. We hit the single track and the two I was following put a gap on me as we headed down the narrow track. I was being careful in my navigation on the narrow single track – reaching for trees and trying to keep balance. Dave Dunham came flying behind and gave me orders to keep on trucking down to the bottom. No pressure, just Dave ready to murder this section. The tone in his voice was clear. I picked up my act so to speak and got us to the bottom. I then offered to step aside for him and he said no.
Just ahead of Tim
Photo by KrissyK

I felt OK so I carried some momentum and caught up the two gents I followed up the mountain. We were now climbing up more single track. I found it very cool and notable to see signs and passing lanes. I did not need them but I am sure they came in handy for some. I soon lost any audible that Dave was behind me but know better so I pressed onward and upward. Meanwhile, I would let out a few grunts here and there to let the two gents in front of me to keep on pressing. They were tired. I wanted to pass but felt that I should wait until the fire road which I felt was a few minutes away. Indeed it was and I got around one guy once it was safe to do so. It was more or less all downhill from this point to the finish. I’d say this was about 4.6 miles into the course. The other guy in a green windbreaker was killing it on the downs – pulling away. I tried to keep up but there was no way. My left hamstring did not feel too good so I had to temper the strides. That left me battling the gent in the white long sleeve. He passed me so I just stayed close. These guys were going to pull me into the finish. 
About 250m to go
Photo by KrissyK
I approached the downhill single track switch back into the stadium loop full of spectators. The finish was less than 800m away. I was careful on my way down. I did not want to take a tumble. I zipped past Krissy and wrapped up the stadium loop into the finish. I finished 20th place overall with a time of 47:57. I placed 3rd in my age group (40-44). I turned back and Dave Dunham was exhausted and face down after the finish line. I walked over and picked him up. More CMS guys came through as I waited for our third master Todd Callaghan. We all regrouped and got in a quick photo (Todd and Paul Bazanchuk are missing). We cooled down for a few and shared our battles out there. I changed up and waited for Krissy’s race. My attention turned to her event as she was nervous. The Velcro bindings on her shoes gave her the business gave her the business so I ran inside and gave her mine with the stainless steel cleats that treated me well for my race. I picked up the camera and took plenty of photos for her for a change. She held her own out there. Chuck and Sandy hung out to the end which was cool. The awards came about and I managed to get on the podium for a medal in the age group and for the top masters team which was cool. 
20th overall

1 comment:

  1. Great job earning a solid placing and a couple of trips to the podium! Nice write up, always fun to hear a recap from another perspective. Lots of great shots by Krissy, too.