The problem with the Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe race was not the race itself, it was getting there and then getting home. This Acidotic Racing Team race is held at 6 pm so that you can run through the woods in the dark. We had plenty of new fresh snow this week, but before heading out for the hour long drive to Madbury, NH, it started snowing again. The ride to the race wasn't that bad although the roads started getting snowy the last bit of the drive. I arrived to the race on time and with two training runs on the treadmill this week, a one miler and a two miler. That would be my total run training in over the past three weeks (except for racing). If I was to finish the 4 1/2 mile race, it would be due to all of my ElliptiGO training.
I saw it mentioned that at the National Championship race in Vermont in two weeks, using longer cleats on the snowshoes would be recommended, so I ordered some new cleats from Dion Snowshoes and got them on time for this race. It only took minutes to replace the old cleats with the new ones.
The snow was falling down nicely as we headed into the woods for the start of the race. I turned my headlight on (which I hadn't used since doing this race in 2010. I settled in the back part of the starting line and waited for the race to start. If you want to see how much fun it is to run on the snow at night check out this video of the race start by Gianina Lindsey.
The course was dark and the trail was perfect. I started making my way slowly forward to find a good group of athletes to run with. I eventually found myself at the tail end of a small paceline and the pacing was perfect. Once everyone got sorted out, we hit some farmland where the course turned to singletrack. My group of four stayed together and every once in awhile we would pass another racer. I was enjoying the pace and the lack of hills. It was like we were running through a Robert Frost poem with the snow falling and headlights glowing all around like moving stars. I noticed after about a mile that one of my shoes was loose as the laces had come untied. I tried to ignore it as well as to keep my shoe on my foot. The muscles in my lower back and hips were extremely tight from shoveling snow the previous day and that threw off the alignment of my hips. I ran awkwardly most of the race. The single track pathway was also too narrow for my clumsy stride and I kept bouncing off the sides of the path and every once in awhile taking a misstep and lurching into the deeper snow. I stuck with my group however as we navigated through the fields and back into the woods. Two people dropped back from our group and so now I was just following behind one female racer in front of me. I felt good that I was passing people and never had anyone pass me. I however was not feeling good about my loose shoe and had to stop and tie it back on. I dropped behind and had to chase a bit to catch back up with the racer in front. Then we hit the hills. Somewhere on the meandering way up, I passed her and was on my own for a bit. It was harder on the twists and turns to keep a steady pace, but eventually I made it over the top and started heading down. Somewhere along the way another racer caught up to me and his headlight was much brighter than mine so I had to watch my shadow racing ahead of me. I asked him if he wanted to take the lead and he said, "Thanks, It is hard to see around your broad shoulders." I think that was a polite way of saying I was overweight!
I found it harder to navigate the downhills and stumbled a bit here and there. I didn't have good control of my stride and did not want to crash into a tree. Eventually some more racers caught up and I was leading a pack. At one dip on the course I crashed to my knees. I offered to let the other guys ahead, but before they could answer I was up and running in the lead again, for another 50 yards. Then I stumbled and crashed again. This time I let four guys pass me. I still had two on my tail. I could tell we were getting off the hills and back to the forest path and I could see racer's headlight below and people cheering. Unfortunately, I listened to one of the guys behind me. He said, "One mile to go." this deflated me for a second so I replied, " Go ahead." They did and it seemed like in less than a minute we were out of the hills and heading for the finish up ahead. Never listen to the guy behind you.
It was a great race and course and running at night is always a thrill. The drive home was was slow on snowy, slushy, and slippery roads, but I made it home safe. It is always a thrill to challenge myself with these snowshoe races, even if I am limping on my bad hip for a day or two afterwards. The longer cleats for my snowshoe worked great. Usually, my left snowshoe slips off to the left as I run with my weird left leg, but I was more stable on the snow with these cleats. Here are the results for the race. I just made it into the top half of the field. Snowshoe racing reminds me of road racing in the 1970s and triathlons in the 1980s. Everyone is pioneering and enjoying a new sport that the masses haven't figured out yet! They are missing out on a ton of fun!
Here is a small album of photos from Scott Mason.