Thank you Hannah Clarke

Thank you Hannah Clarke

Monday, March 9, 2015

The faces of snowshoe racing

It all started with a crazy run to a crazy event on a morning that I felt pretty rough, but it was beautiful day, so why not? After an unlucky snowshoe loss near the end of the race, I was left just off the podium. The next week I had a chance to snowshoe race in Gatineau at a pretty big event, and was rewarded with a silver medal (the participation medal looked pretty great too). Now was my chance to get a good sleep, not eat fast food that would cause me to wake up in the morning and get out of bed, and to win. For the third week in a row, there was a snowshoe race!

I was thinking of trying to run to the race, I knew that I had seen the “Odessa” sign not too far from Kingston whenever I’m driving but, but upon checking the real distance it was 40 something km, and the race started at 10am. No way.  I managed to hitch a ride with this awesome man named Jack Judge; a true northern guy. The man was 63 years old and had just completed his first 100 MILE race in the fall. These winter multisport athletes are a pretty impressive bunch. Anyway, we got out to pretty much nowhere in particular when I saw a big red barn and a bunch of cars parked nearby. A very Canadian venue for a very Canadian sport. 

Mark Robinson photo

There were a lot of people at the event, it was great to see some people that I had raced with and who train in obstacle course racing at the Alpha gym, as well as a lot of people from around Ontario. This snowshoe racing is such a great community with an awesome draw, with a friendly atmosphere and great organizers it's a great challenge for anyone from an elite athlete to a person who just wants a challenge, and I appreciate the mix! 

The race was essentially a 6 and a bit km course shaped like the letter q; with about 2km out, a 2km loop, and 2km back. Right from the gun I ran with intent to win and led for the first km or so, until just before the course got into some tighter forest trail, where Charley Murphy (who knew the course and has been winning these things for years apparently) took his opportunity and flew by me. I figured that he was just going to blow up and I'd pass him again at this pace, but after a little while running behind him I just couldn't keep the pace. 

Confidence in first place (Mark Robinson photo)

The first thing that I do when I lose first place is to stubbornly stick to the leader until they either blow up or I realize that it wasn't a fake burst of speed. The first thing that I do when I realize that first place faster than me is look back to where third place is. And so beings the game of cat and mouse. 
Getting the fire ready for soup and keeping tired athletes warm (Mark Robinson photo)

John Bartello, a very fast obstacle racer from Toronto was back in the trail, not far back enough that I couldn't see him, but far enough back that I wasn't too worried about being caught. It's a real mind game, as the trail twists through the forest, or if you hear something behind you, you have to judge how close they are, keep calm, keep pace, and not fall. I was relieved by cheering on those who were still running the first 2km out, giving high fives as I ran my final 2kmI managed to keep ahead, and came in for another second place finish for the second weekend in a row. I couldn't help but think that for the second weekend in a row, the guy who was expected to win did so, and I was second place, but I tried! 

The following photos are a great sequence captured by Mark Robinson, of all things I'm thinking near the end of a race:
Focus. Don't fall. 
Don't give up.
Look up. Am I following a trail?

A photographer. Better smile.
That smile sucked. Better cheer.
Cheering is exhausting. 
Focus. You're close to the finish. 

Done. Time to not do anything. (Grace Vanderzande photo)

The awards after the race around the bonfire were great, and I was happy to have such great soup and be in good company. Flanel is a good uniform in the off season I think?

Thanks Derrick for the great event (Grace Vanderzande photo)

1 comment:

  1. Great run Chris! Love your positive outlook
    Article shared, see you next season and my calf will be better so I'll be running along side Ya. :) most likely behind Ya.