Mad About Winter

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Snowshoe_Running_Jan2013

Yup, you read right. I’m mad about winter. But in a good way 🙂 I know it’s been a little while since I updated my blog, so I figured I’d do a 2 for 1 race report in this post, seeing as both races form part of the Mad Trapper Snowshoe Race series. The first one occurred way back in early December, and the 2nd took place a little earlier in January. Both races were quite unique, and ironically, both races saw me finish in 5th place overall in the 10km race category. In a departure from most race reports of late though, I carried no cameras, and took no photos or video. My focus was purely on the races and the camaraderie, so you’ll just have to re-live the events through my words, and a little video clip put together by Dave McMahon further below. In spite of the lack of visual stimuli, I promise the story will still paint the picture for you. Now read on and learn about both of these fun races!

Mike Caldwell has been putting on races at his property “The Ark” for many years now. He’s held snowshoe races, trail running races, and even a rogaine out there, not to mention he hosts weddings, corporate retreats, and teambuilding events. It is not just his place of business, but his home. In that regard, whenever you attend a race out there, it feels quite ‘homey’. And not in an urban city kind of way ;-). He and his wife Monique offer not only a great race, but they also put on a spread that should make most race directors envious. After almost every event out there, they put on a veritable post-race buffet for everyone. It’s no wonder some people sign up solely for that reason. It certainly makes the money worth it from my perspective. But at the heart of it all, I come out for the racing.

Numbers have stayed relatively small, but growing, in the years I’ve been racing there. It was not impossible, for example, for me to outright WIN at races there, and I have done so. However, increasingly, word has gotten out about the fun and the food, which has gradually drawn in some of the more dedicated racers out there. While this has meant a drop in standing for me, it has equally meant I have to up my game to feel competitive out there. And the results speak for themselves. I’m getting faster, but falling lower in the placings, but I’m totally fine with that.

The other nice thing about holding races at his own venue is that Mike can roll with the punches. A fine case in point is the December race. It was supposed to be a snowshoe race. We had no snow! Was that a problem? Nope. Just make it a trail race. Mike didn’t mind. Most racers didn’t mind. The numbers may have been a little lower as a result of the change of plans, but things still went off just fine anyway. I’m a big fan of trail running, so I was happy to put the hammer down and see how my body was doing.

Race Summary According to my GPS Watch

Mad Trapper Dec2012_Result

This race was the first time since my ankle injury that I went really hard. As you can see by the result above, I pushed. Hard. I stayed in Zone 5 the entire race, with an average heart rate of 182 bpm. That’s high. I’m guessing that part of this was due to my body angry about pushing my weakened ankle so hard, but I know my limits, and I know that I can push my system to that limit for about an hour with no dire consequences. The result for me was a satisfying 5th place overall, and several people commenting that I had a great race out there and seemed faster than last year. I’ll take the compliments, but obviously, with no step on the podium, I still have room for improvement 🙂

After a quick re-fueling, it was time to head back home, and start enjoying the Christmas season. There were no other races until Mike’s next race in January, so it was time to pray for snow and start the training in earnest for the Canadian Ski Marathon in February with Deanna, since we were both signed up and that means 160km of skiing in 2 day.

So with that, once the new year was upon us, it was time for a bona-fide Snowshoe race, the Mad Trapper ‘hilly’ course. We’d had a TON of snow in the time since the trail race of December, and in fact, there was so much new snow that week alone that Mike was uncertain how to lay the course. There were no discernible trails anywhere. To prepare for it, Mike just strapped on Snowshoes and followed deer trails around his property, giving racers a completely new course layout with different twists, hills, and turns than we’d seen in the past. Again, rolling with the punches and doing what needed to be done. The course probably couldn’t have been better if he’d tried!

Race Summary According to my GPS Watch

Mad Trapper Jan2013_Result

As the results above show you, it was another redline fiesta! The casual observer will note that my average heart rate was a bit lower at 174 bpm, but have a look and compare the distance and times. Nearly the same distance, but almost 50% longer! That was thanks to the incredibly deep snow. Once again, I wrapped this race up in 5th place, and was quite pleased with that result.

Why so slow? Well, being that this is 2 loops, and I was in 5th, it means that for the entire first loop, I was out at the front of the pack trying to break trail with the big boys and pack down the snow. This is not an easy task. The reward for this is supposed to be a much faster 2nd loop. However, after all that effort, I only managed a negative split by 2 minutes. The second loop seemed just as hard. The snow still made for tough going.

On the plus side, this was probably the absolutely most gorgeous race I’ve ever seen out there. The snow was not only thick on the trail, but also in the trees. While we’d had a lot of snow, there hadn’t been a lot of wind, so all the snow stayed intact in the branches, making for an absolutely breathtaking course (from the running AND the views). All racers agreed this was the whole reason we all like coming out and running around in the winter; sights like this! Luckily, local videographer and racer extraordinaire Dave McMahon was onsite not only running, but also stopped racing after one loop to get the stunning footage I’m embedding below for you all to admire.

Video Footage from Dave McMahon (XCZone.tv)

Afterwards, another great feast, and plenty of commiserating, congratulating, and camaraderie between all the participants. With this race under our belts, it was only a few more weeks before the next snowshoe race, and I’m pretty sure everyone was stoked for it, as it was going to be the annual Bushtukah Night Race! Yup, that’s right, racing under the stars. Plus, I was going to cover it, so I’ll have a video review of it for all to see, and I plan to focus on the party atmosphere, since shooting video at night is pretty tricky. Till the next post, hope everyone is getting out there and enjoying the wonderful winter weather!

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