Category Archives: Race Review Videos

Successful Skate Ski at the 34th Gatineau Loppet

Happy at Finish

Sorry for the delay in getting this post up everyone. In the past 10 weeks, I’ve done 8 races, and between the pictures, the videos, the training, the racing, the editing, the working, etc. etc, I just ran out of time to write my traditional post-race summary 🙂 However, I’m here tonight to rectify that and share with you all just a few thoughts from the Gatineau Loppet this year. I was particularly excited to take part in the event this year, as it would be my first time taking part in a longish race where I skate skied! Yes, this is still my first year on skate skis, so there is still a lot to learn, but it didn’t stop me from signing up to do the 31km (eventually classified as 27.5km) event at the Loppet. I was also there covering the event for Get Out There Magazine, so as has been the case quite frequently lately, I have a video review of the race for all to enjoy at the end of this post too. In addition to the video, I snapped a fair number of pictures over the weekend for you to check out. Click on to read the rest of my thoughts on the weekend, which I’ll keep on the brief side.

Race Pictures


The first thing I’ll note (and no, it’s not totally an excuse) is that the Loppet fell exactly 1 week after my completion of the Canadian Ski Marathon, where I skied 160km classic style in 2 days. I’m no expert here, but I’m willing to bet that 6 days is not a sufficient amount of time to fully recover from such an event, especially in light of the lack of training I put into that event! So, strike 1 was no recovery from CSM, strike 2 was the fact that I’m pretty much a rank amateur. Strike 3? Easy, there is no strike 3. I make no excuses for my performance at the Loppet. In fact, I really didn’t care how I really did in the event. I’ll say this much. When I did cross the finish line at the finish, I was completely satisfied, and think I did a great job. By the numbers, I was 20/22 in my category! And 161/213 for men. Yup, pretty low down in the standings. But I’m getting ahead of the story, aren’t I? Let’s rewind and actually have a look at the race prep and action.

Now, let’s be honest here. My desire certainly wasn’t to be that far down the rankings. I’m not boasting here, but that’s not a spot I’m used to being in during a race. Particularly where nothing actually went wrong. I even tried to help myself by having my skis professionally prepped for the race. Ok, not a real professional prep, but I did at least drop them off at a shop for tuning rather than doing them myself. A nice wax job of molybdenum low fluoro for the first layer, scraped and brushed, followed by another top coat of low fluoro scraped and brushed. Sound like Greek to you? No worries, it just means I had then nicely waxed to be fast and slippery in the snow conditions we were expecting. And they WERE good. I had great glide the whole time. The weather was also pretty ideal. Blue skies and the works. The wind picked up a few times during the race, but overall, I was pretty comfortable. So off to the start line we go!

Race Stats


Lucky for me, I had seeded myself pretty far back in the race. I was in wave D, with a planned completion time of around 2hours. Nothing spectacular, but a nice, realistic goal. The starting gun sounded, and all around me we were double-poling like mad to get to the line where we could start skating. However, with the crowds and some hills, it was a little while before I could actually finally try some skate strides. Around me, people were stepping on other folks’ skis, falling, etc. One poor guy had his carbon fiber pole snap like a twig under the weight of another skiers ski. I felt bad, and made a note to make sure I kept my poles to myself.

Once I started hitting the more open areas, I got myself into a nice rhythm and focused on trying to pull out a good technique. I’d like to think I was doing a fairly reasonable job of that, but the video playback definitely showed me some points I could improve on. Deanna had been nice enough to do some filming, and there was a spot where she caught all the front crowd, and eventually, me. Because of that, I had great reference footage of good, average, and bad technique. I placed myself into the ‘average’ category. Weight shift yes, but too short a glide phase.

The course itself was a real treat. Good mix of different trails. Some parkways, some fields, and of course, some nasty little climbs, including the ever-popular climb up to Pink Lake from the backside. Trust me, it’s a great trail to practice your climbing. We also managed to grab a trail I was completely unfamiliar with, which I think was the #15 heading left off the parkway up towards MacKenzie King after the T intersection. This was a nice narrow, climbing, twisting trail where I got to do a lot of practice. While I had started fairly far back, I felt good about the fact that I was seldom passed on the trails. On the contrary, I was doing my fair share of passing. In other words, I was holding my own in my start wave.

After the long, twisty climbs up to MacKenzie King, it was time for the return to the start/finish at the Relais Plein Air, which had a lot of downhills to carry us there. These ranged from short little hills with nice run-outs, up to the very long descent from Pink Lake on the parkway. It was there that I threw caution to the wind and totally bombed down the set classic tracks to see how fast I could hit. In the end, that was 51.2km/hr! If there had been the slightest problem with the track, I would have been a tangled mess of skis and melted spandex! Luckily, I emerged unscathed, and with a giant smile on my face. Unfortunately, my race wasn’t completely without falls…

It happened in the stupidest of spots. Completely flat and skiing smoothly along the parkway. I was a little surprised to see a cyclist heading towards me! Yup, on a mountain bike with knobby tires, this joker was just riding along the ski course heading towards me. Luckily, it’s very wide, and there was absolutely no problem. However, afterwards, as I kept going, my mind wandered a bit, and before I knew it, I planted my pole in front of my ski, causing a nice tumble in front of a couple others. I got up lightening fast, but quite embarrassed. After making it through all the technical bits, this was a blow to my ego. However, with only a few kilometers to go, I could care less.

I finished out the race uneventfully, having a great time in the sun on a gorgeous winter day. Deanna was waiting for me at the finish, and I did my best flying bird impression on the final 100m stretch, by flapping my arms. Nearly fell again, but I was a happy camper. My final time was 1hr 50, so I had beat my goal, although with the adjusted distance, I was actually pretty much right on track. I hung around for a bit for the podium ceremony for the top 51km race finishers, then had a bite to eat, then headed home with Deanna so I could work on the video. All in all, another brilliant race day and a good result for my first long skate ski race. Although I really love skate skiing, I’m not sure I want to race again. It’s a bit maddening to be soooo much slower than others. I suppose with practice and training…. Who knows. Stay tuned to see if I try again next year I guess! That’s it for now. Next up: Snowy ride to Quebec for the Pentathlon des Neiges… Adios amigos.

Video Race Review

Following the Trail of “Jackrabbit” Johannsen

Still Smiling after 160km

A warm welcome back to you all. I’m back from another epic odyssey over the past weekend. Although the Canadian Ski Marathon is not a race, strictly speaking, I’m still putting under my ‘race’ cartegory. This is mainly due to the fact that there are strict time cut-offs, which mean many skiers don’t actually complete the entire 160km distance. Ergo, it is a race against the clock in my mind :-). I also wish I got paid to race, because I would have gotten overtime. Over 20 hours outside in the bitter cold, and up at 3am and 4am! Seems like more ‘work’ than my job! At any rate, it was an amazing event, and I hope you’ll all read on for my personal take of the entire event. I covered it for Get Out There Magazine as well (videos appended at end), and took a bunch of pictures. Should give any skiers out there a great idea and reason to try the CSM next year!

Pictures from Race

So just what exactly is the Canadian Ski Marathon? Well, for starters, it is a quintessential Canadian winter activity. The event was envisioned as, and strives to continue to be, one of the toughest point-to-point cross-country ski events of the world for those who want it to be that. Hunh? What does that mean? Well, the event takes place over 2 days, and consists of 10 individual sections adding up to a total of 160km of amazing skiing. However, you can enter in a variety of different categories. Tourers are those who choose to take part in the event but only ski a few sections. You can choose as many sections as you like, and are recognized for the number of the sections you actually complete. For the masochists of the world, you can sign up to tackle the whole event in the Coureur des Bois (CdB) category.

However, in the CdB category, there is more stratification. If it is your first attempt, you automatically go in the ‘Bronze’ category, where your only goal is to complete the entire distance within the time limits. If successful, the second year you are entitled to sign up as a ‘Silver’ participant, with that you must not only complete within the time limits, but must also carry a pack weighing a minimum of 6kg for the whole thing. Now, if you are successful as silver, you can now try to attain ‘Gold’ status on the 3rd year. Once again, you must finish within timelines, and must carry a minimum of 6kg on your back. However, this time you also get the ‘privilege’ of sleeping outdoors on a bale of hay for the Saturday night. In other words, your pack MUST contain all you need to survive from Saturday 4am till about 5pm Sunday including food, sleeping gear, and ski supplies! Me? Well, as I AM a masochist, I was enrolled in the CdB Bronze category. So let’s now go through my weekend fun.

Day 1 Stats

Not to belabour this point, but the entire weekend was forecast to be COLD. By that, I mean temps which likely averaged around -15 most of the weekend with the early mornings obviously being colder than that. Why does that matter? Well, the week before, I spent nearly $80 on waxes suited for warmer snow. Ha ha. Oh well. They’ll be used some other time.

On Friday night, Deanna was kind enough to drive me to my luxurious digs… a gym floor in Papineauville. Yup, that would be my home for the next 2 nights. We checked out the opening party at the Chateau Montebello (and saw how the other half lived), then I returned to the school. Still had to do some waxing and gear preparation before trying to get some sleep before the 3am wake-up call, which came all too soon. Breakfast was devoured by 4am. From there, final ski prep, and piling on buses to the start line at Buckingham.

At that point, I tried shoving hot packs into my ski boots, eat some food, and get my camera gear ready for the start while watching the first 2 waves (Gold at 5:40, Silver at 5:50) get underway. It was obviously still pitch black out, so we started the event with headlamps. I think that was my favourite part of the whole event; skiing in a long row of headlamps in the still of the pre-dawn morning. Very peaceful. We also had some light snow falling, so it was absolutely beautiful. Things were so nice and peaceful that falling into a nice pace was very easy, and before I knew it, we passed by the ‘2km till next CP’ sign of the first section. Everything was working extremely well, and I was absolutely in love with the experience so far.

The first CP was the real introduction to the organization that went into this event. The army of volunteers (which yes, included the army!) took great care to ensure every detail was addressed. At each CP, we got scanned in electronically and physically marked off on the bibs. All CPs had food (usually dry fruit, soup, bananas and cookies) and drinks (warm water, honey water, Gatorade). Some CPs also had waxing stations, where you could drop off skis to be re-waxed for you while you ate / drank, etc. Of course, the key was to get back out as quickly as possible. This served two purposes. The first was to stay on schedule to make the cutoffs, but more importantly this weekend, it was to stay warm! As I type this, I still haven’t gotten full feeling back in two of my fingers!

Back to the trail! With the day now in full swing, it was time to make some serious tracks. I popped in my earbuds and asked Gordon Sumner (aka Sting) to sing me to the finish. Of course, that was still about 65km away, so it would take a while. My pace felt good, and without doing too much math, I was pretty sure I’d have no troubles with the cut-offs. I passed my time really taking in the world around me. Even though there were 1500 participants in CSM, and you are never really alone, you still have a lot of time to reflect. It was so invigorating to just let my mind wander, appreciating everything life has to offer, including the ability to do something like the CSM. The ski trails were amazingly good considering these are not official ski trails.

In fact, each year, CSM starts anew, with local farmers and landowners granting permission to have the snow groomers, and eventually the skiers, pass through their fields and hills. We are fortunate to have their co-operation. Even more so considering this has been happening for 46 years! The longest section of Day 1 was over 21km, and it was a tiring one. This was rated ‘intermediate’, and at the end of it, I was still well on schedule. I had to reach the 4th CP by 3:15pm, and found myself there around 2pm. Awesome. I lingered a bit longer there, allowing the pros from Swix to do a nice, 3-layer wax job with a sticky klister base under a glorious sun.

I skied the final 13 km with a smile on my face, knowing I had all but clinched day 1. There were some pretty awesome hills to climb through the day, but also a lot of fun, fast, and yes, sketchy, descents to make. It made the whole day interesting. Also, it was always impressive skiing with the CdB gold folks, navigating all the challenges with sometimes ridiculously large-looking backpacks! They definitely are the champs of the weekend! The finish line was at Chateau Montebello for the day, and about 15 minutes after finishing, the exhaustion hit me, and I just wanted to get back to the dorm and sleep.

Day 2 Stats

Unfortunately, sleep couldn’t come too quickly. There were a number of things to get done on Saturday before bedding down. First there was the matter of a quick, and sometimes scalding shower, followed by tucking into a big pasta meal at the cafeteria. Clothes had to be spread out to dry, new clothes picked out for the next day. Food stores in my pack replenished, batteries for all devices charged up (I had 2 cameras on the trail and my GPS and iPod, all of which needed charging). Turns out -20 is not a forgiving temperature for batteries and electronic devices! After all that, I HAD to turn my attention to my skis, which basically had to be completely re-stripped of all waxes and built back up, but the glide waxing and the grip waxing. This took about an hour of effort, in a room packed full of others doing the same. The stench of chemicals and waxes dancing in everyone’s nostrils as they worked feverishly to get the ‘perfect’ wax job, which would eventually get destroyed in the opening 20km or so of the next day! However, once done, I thankfully got to crawl into my sleeping bag after swapping a few stories with fellow participants.

Thankfully, the bus for day 2 was a mercifully short ride, so we got to ‘sleep in’ until 4am. Ha ha ha. Getting up was made even more difficult as several of my ‘neighbours’ had opted to not get up, thereby forfeiting their CdB bronze attempts. Seeing them sleeping soundly made it hard to pour myself out of my bag and pull on ski clothes again. However I had a mission, and would not fail. Not completing this adventure was NOT an option in my mind (are you surprised?!). Breakfast was a nice french toast with ham affair for me, and before I knew it, I had packed up all my stuff (which was being transported to the finish) and was sitting on the bus again.

Sunday was even colder than Saturday, but I felt even better prepared for it (and added an extra layer on my head). I didn’t have to fuss with anything at the start, and instead crowded around one of the 6 propane heaters to await the start of our wave. No snow this morning, just a still, cold air around all of our anticipation. On the menu today was another 80km of skiing. However, whereas on day 1 they were all ranked ‘easy’ and ‘intermediate’, today’s sections were all ‘intermediate’ and ‘hard’, including the infamous ‘Rouge Valley’ section with all of it’s many, many hills. This would be tackled on the 3rd section, so it was literally the ‘hump’ of the day, and the only real challenge to getting that little bronze pin I was coveting.

On the audio menu today? Well, I opted to listen to my catalogue of Depeche Mode tracks, including lots of hard-thumping remixes. This was definitely more appropriate to the physical challenges that lay ahead of me. The start felt a little slower than the first day, but that was to be expected, especially since we were heading uphill right away. First stop of the day was actually ‘Gold Camp’, where the CdB folks had spent the night. They had left about 25 minutes earlier, and all that was left were massive fires of the loose hay burning. It was a very cool sight. With the inspiration of that vision, I picked my pace back up and started picking my way through many of the skiers, eventually catching up to many of the Silver CdB, and Gold CdB skiers.

Throughout the day, I knew I was moving slower than I had the previous day, but that was not unexpected. I dug into my reserves and my endurance racing base to just steel myself and keep the pace moving. In the hills of dreaded section 3, I met a friend of mine and slowed to chat with him a while, before making the decision to keep my own pace and press on during the climbs. I’d been told that it is very hard to actually ski with anyone, as everyone has their own ups and downs. It can be the difference between finishing or being cut off to not go your own pace. Smile planted firmly on my face, I kept on skiing, knocking off the checkpoints. At the 3rd CP, it was only 1:05pm, giving me 2hrs 10mins till cutoff to cover about 14km. Awesome! Seemed like it would be easy.

I hadn’t accounted for the fact that my pace had slowed way down. Now, to be clear, I was in no great danger of failing, but I was still surprised when I got to CP4 at 2:45pm, a mere 30 minutes before the cutoff. As a result, I bypassed the volunteer waxers and just did my own waxing. I headed back out at about 3:05pm, now safe in the knowledge I had basically done it! Only 13k to go. Yeeee-haaaaawwww!

The final 7-8km seemed to take forever. Even though the track was good, and weather was good (and had even warmed up a bit), it was a real slog to keep pushing. I’m pretty sure my body did NOT want to ski much more. I was definitely on autopilot now. Finally arriving at the finish area, I pulled out my little camera to film the arrival at the finish. A smallish crowd of 20 or so felt like hundreds to me. Having anyone there cheering was a huge boost to get across the line. I kept the skis on for a few minutes longer to pose for a few finish line shots, but for all intents and purposes, it was DONE! I had done it! 160km, and a nice little bronze pin to show for it!

The closing banquet was a collection of skiers in various states of exhaustion, a hearty meal of lasagna, chicken, and other goodies, while the emcee tried to utter a lot of words while the masses generally ignored him. However, he recognized that the night was more for the skiers and sharing of their stories with each other, and was gracious about the fact that he was being ignored! I did a fair bit of story swapping myself, learning more about things like the rogue horse who was running loose on the trail, and about broken skies repaired at CPs, etc. A nice finish to the whole event. At 8pm, I got on one last bus which took me back to Gatineau and the end of the entire event.

Looking back now, I had a bit of a revelation about this event. Usually, in a long event, you have periods where you really ask yourself why you are doing it. More specifically, in almost every adventure race (particularly 24hr+ events) you hit a point where you hate it, and don’t know why you’re there. However, I can honestly say I never hit that point once during CSM. More often than not, I’d actually be smiling, and just marveling at what I was doing, and how great it felt. NO, it wasn’t easy. Not by a long shot. But I WANTED to do this. And I succeeded. And boy, did that feel great! I would highly encourage you to try the CSM, or parts of it, next year, if you are at all into skiing. It was a well-run, and very beautiful event! But, no time to rest for me, I’m 2 days away from my first Loppet using Skate Skis! Off to rest (oh, and celebrate Deanna’s birthday!!!)

Day 1 Video Review

Day 2 Video Review

Snowy start to Mad Trapper Night Race

i2P Link

Hello friends! I figured I had better get cracking on my latest race report. After all, another race is looming large in a day or so, and every weekend until March is booked with races, so I’m in peril of starting to fall behind once again! We can’t let that happen, so here I am to fill you all in on the Bushtukah Mad Trapper Night Race. This is one of the funnest, social, yet hard races of the winter season that I always look forward to. As you have probably pieced together using your powers of deduction, this race takes place under the cover of darkness. As with all Mad Trapper races, we find ourselves out at the Ark. However, to pick our way along the race course, we all wear headlamps. Race start is slated for 6:30pm, and that’s pitch black! As a result, this is one of the first races in a long time where I have absolutely no pictures or videos. Gets to be a lot of work to do that, so this race I was focusing on just racing hard. If you’d care to hear how that went for me (no spoilers this time in my teaser), click on past the link and read the full post.

First, let’s address the weather. Conditions were PERFECT. Probably the best they’ve ever been out there for a snowshoe race. Older snow had been long-ago packed, and on top, there was a huge amount of fresh powder, since we were in the middle of a heavy snowfall day! The snow was heavy, but not super wet, so it had just enough ‘give’ without being sticky either. The weather was half the problem for the day, as many people had problems just driving out to the Ark and getting up the big hills for the race. Some cars got stuck, others tried the ‘long way around’, and still others just turned tail and went home. In spite of that, there was still a great turnout, and a competitive crew out to challenge the course. Lucky for us, James Galipeau went around the whole course twice before the race, to make sure things were a bit packed, and that direction markers were clear. However, there was still a fair bit of snow to work through at the front of the race for the first lap.

As usual, I lined up at the front and planned to push hard to stay with the leaders. However, with the blistering pace newcomer Derrick St John has been setting at the front (leading to solid wins), the front pack trailed out faster than normal. I found myself in a happy little group of 4 pretty early on, with the 4 main leaders ahead of us. Our group of 4 eventually thinned to 2, Mike Abraham (aka, my shadow) and me. The other two had pulled ahead. Whenever Mike and I race together, we always seem to be pretty evenly matched. Whoever seems to feel better that day takes it. We’ve seen it at UXC, trail runs, and snowshoe races. This time, I wanted it just a little more than him, and although he stuck very close to me the whole first lap, I decided to try and pull away on lap number 2.

The course was the same as our first race of the season, which is to say the ‘flatter’ course, but still has a lot of nasty climbs. The two loops were supposed to be different, but with the volume of snow, Mike had opted to just set the single loop. This created an interesting 2nd lap. Whereas the first lap had a lot of snow and even ‘steps’ carved out on the hills from single sets of tracks, lap 2 was a completely different beast. Upon starting the 2nd lap, the trail now looked like someone had literally pushed a snowblower the entire way! Perfectly carved and packed the whole way, it was a superhighway to the finish. As to the rest of the scenery? Well, let’s just say it was out of this world. The snow on the trees, occasionally lit by headlamps with some swirling snow as well, was absolutely gorgeous. Too bad I couldn’t spend more time gawking. But I had a race to finish. I slowly pulled away from Mike meter by meter, eventually beating him to the finish by almost a minute. Final time for me was 1:08:35, whereas the winner finished in just under an hour! It may have only netted me a 6th place finish, but the effort was huge. According to Mr. Garmin, my average HR was 214, with a max of 245! I’m rather dubious about that, but expect my average was around 185.

Race Stats


Post-race feast for this race was Chili! I love post-race Chili. Especially with sour cream and shredded cheese. Deeee-licious! All participants seemed equally happy with that, as well as the cookies, chips, bananas, BROWNIES, etc. The snow had kept flying all evening, and the joke was that we were all going to have to crash at the Ark for the night unless the plow went by on these back country roads (luckily they did!). But to make the night even more special, we were hosting an auction / fundraiser for impossible2Possible, Ray Zahab’s not-for-profit organization. As a small group, we managed to raise over $1000 for this worthy cause. I walked away the proud owner of a new team jersey for Team SpiderTech, Canada’s up and coming pro cycling team. All in all, this was a magical, awesome night with a great race, great post-race meal, and fun auction benefiting a worthy organization. I can’t think of a better way I could have possibly spent my Saturday night. To cap the whole thing off, it was great to have Deanna with me the whole time, having completed her 2nd race of the season, sporting her fancy new headlamp, shiny snowshoes, and a big grin from a great performance she put on in the snow. It’s just awesome to watch her get more involved in these things and take an interest in even the …gasp!… training aspects of this crazy lifestyle I (we) live! Next up: Winterlude Tri, where I’ll be back with a full video review and pictures to share. Stay tuned!

Heading to the Land of the Hip for a Race

Starting Gun Sounds

Another week, and another race report for my loyal readers! This past weekend, I headed off towards Kingston (home of the Tragically Hip, in case you didn’t get the title reference), for what I think was my shortest race ever, but a great time nonetheless. I was there to do a video race review for Get Out There Magazine of the Dion Snowshoes Frontenac Park Snowshoe Race. A mouthful, isn’t it? I’ve done plenty of snowshoe races in our area as part of the Mad Trapper Snowshoe series each year, but this was the first time I ventured out of town to try my luck elsewhere. As it turns out, this race was also a qualifier for the Snowshoe Running World Championships for this year! That was part of my motivation to tackle this race. I secretly hoped I’d be in the top 3. Have a look at the pictures I posted on flickr, then click on past the link to read the rest of my thoughts on this well-run family-organized race.

For starters, we couldn’t have asked for better weather or conditions. Although it had been bitterly cold the past couple weeks, on race day in Frontenac Park, temperatures were probably somewhere around -11 degrees. This really doesn’t seem that bad when you are redlining for an entire race! Also, the snow cover was deep and plentiful. The night before, there was even a light dusting of snow, so we had fresh powder to start the race with. The course itself was very straightforward. A 6.7km run on existing trails near the entrance of the park. This was a fair bit different from what I’m used to at the Mad Trapper races. There were almost no hills, and virtually zero technical bits. In other words, this was a sprinters race. Straight, flat trails, with very few turns or tough hills to climb. As you can guess, this type of race does not favour me.

Race Stats

So, how about my competition you ask? Well, there were apparently originally 72 racers signed up, but a small group from the U.S. weren’t able to make it, so we were left with 62 racers, which is actually a great number for this type of race, and more than have made it to past events. Of those, a large portion were gunning to get free entries (including food, accommodation and race!) into the worlds. As a result, the field was deep and very talented. I didn’t know most of them, but this year’s current ‘fast guy’, Derrick St John from the Mad Trapper was there. Also, it turned out the reigning world champ was there. Hmm, wasn’t looking good for ole ActiveSteve at this point. Nonetheless, I stayed optimistic, and seeded myself at the front of the pack. The race was set to go promptly at 10am, and with all racers strapped up and a local TV camera crew on hand, the starting gun was sounded by a park ranger.

Much to my surprise, I found myself as the race leader right off the bat! I was being careful not to push too hard, and didn’t understand why I was at the front. Unsurprisingly, this feeling didn’t last long. As soon as we got over the first rise (and out of sight of the cameras), I was passed. And not just by a few people. I’m talking a veritable throng! In spite of the sadness I felt at being crushed, it was also humbling. I did my best to focus on staying in touch with some of front runners, but it didn’t take long for the race at the front to start to spread out. I maintained a very steady pace, and in my heart, I hoped that some of the younger guys had gone out too hard and I’d reel them in. Sadly, in a 6.7km race, there really isn’t an opportunity for that to happen. Frankly, I’m just not made for these ‘sprint’ races. Of course, I knew that going in, so there was no real surprise or angst.

Keeping my steady pace, I did manage to make up a couple spots by passing a couple of the folks who had ran past me earlier. But making up 12-13 spots in order to get one of the coveted “world’s” slots simply wasn’t in the cards. In spite of that, I crossed the finish line with a big smile on my face and a real feeling of accomplishment. It was my shortest ever race, but I kept a great pace for me, and pulled off my fastest pace ever in a snowshoe race. 16 out of 62 in a field like this was still pretty good. PLUS, I managed to snap pictures AND shoot video while racing for the magazine. After all, I was on the job too 🙂 You can see the results of my video review at the end of this post.

As alluded to, the overall winner was last year’s world champion, and he dusted the course in a time 10 minutes faster than me! Amazing! It was a real masters’ class in snowshoe running out there. They came from far and wide, and gave it their all on the course. At the finish, I didn’t hear a single person complain about their race though. Everyone seemed to have bested their time from the previous year, so apparently all that action up front pulled a lot of people along in the slipstream! Post-race, we piled back into the park trail office for the food and awards. There was a mini-buffet of bagels, pastries, cookies, granola bars, etc. Additionally, there was hot chocolate, recovery drink, and soup. After re-energizing with those, the awards got underway. There were a few funny prizes, like a giant roll of aluminum foil, as well as tons of home-made fleece socks that were made by the race director’s mom and are always a favourite at these races.

After a few final words, it was time for everyone to head their separate ways. It was only 1pm, and the day was absolutely stunning. It was very tempting to stay longer, but with the 2.5 hour drive ahead, and the fact that I had to get the video done, we decided to head home. Even though it was a big investment of time and effort for a short race, it was still very cool. If you’re ever in the Kingston area in the winter and looking for a fun event, see if there is a Dion snowshoe race on. You’ll have a great time and walk away (or limp) with a smile on your face! Next up for me, the Mad Trapper night race this weekend. No video this time, but it’ll still be a great time. If you’re still on the fence, now is the time to try a snowshoe race. At night, it’s even MORE fun 🙂 Till next time, keep praying for more snow (till the end of March anyway).

Video Race Review

1st Race of the 2012 Season in the Books!

Carl Sizes up Competition

Howdy sports fans! Welcome to 2012 and my first race report of the new year. The race in question was the second of 4 snowshoe races in the Mad Trapper series at the Ark in Denholm Quebec. I’ve made a decision this year that I’m going to try and shorten my race reports somewhat, since I suspect not everyone is a fan of epically long reports to go through 🙂 Instead, I’ll try to add some additional race information that’s easier to digest by everyone, including quick course and stat overviews, and video race reviews where I’ve done them. This was one such race, so I’d invite you all to check out the embedded video review at the end of this post. However, one thing that won’t change is my continued visual logs of events in the form of pictures I’ll post on Flickr. So, as usual, I invite you to browse the pictures I posted, then catch up with the rest of the report.

Pictures from Race

The weather for this race could hardly have been any more perfect than they were. We’d gotten a nice dump of snow during the week, so we had fresh snow that was only lightly packed by a few people that had prepped and checked the course. The great conditions also lead to an excellent turnout at the Ark for the race. It would appear that the word has finally spread more to the running community that these snowshoe races are excellent winter training. As such, there were a lot of speed demons there to challenge the course. Gone are the days of me hoping for a top 3 finish I think.

No matter, to me, the racing is increasingly just more about the pure enjoyment of it, and the lifestyle that it brings along with it. I couldn’t be happier than being out on a sunny winter’s day running through the woods on some snowshoes. I also wasn’t the only one from my house racing. Deanna, sporting her fancy new purple snowshoes, decided to come on out and race the 5k course. Awesome! She had also convinced a co-worker to come out and give it a whirl. I think they’ll also be giving the night race a try. Why don’t you all join us for this fun? What could be better on a Saturday night?

This was the so-called hilly course, named in honour of the many lung-burning climbs that competitors have to tackle on their way to the finish line. For the 5k course, you do 1 lap of this course, while the 10k competitors have the joy of crossing the line only to have to head back out for another loop. As usual, I lined myself up at the front of the pack with the speedy folks. I was also doing video for my review as we went along, which was a a bit tricky, but nothing I’m not used to. I stayed with the front group for a while, but I fell off a couple short kilometers into the challenge. There was a solid group of 6 guys that went off the front to not be seen again.

For my part, I was in a second group of 3 guys. We seemed to be pretty evenly matched, and I led our trio for the entire first lap, pacing us up the hills and bombing down the other sides. Unfortunately, at the end of lap 1 a little gap opened up after I paused for a drink of water. I fought to stay with the two others, and that was how I spent the rest of my race. Fighting hard, but just our of reach. I thought I’d get ahead of the guy right ahead of me, as on the steep hills, he seemed to be slowing down. However, he was aware of my presence, and seemed to dig deep just to make sure he didn’t lose his spot. Can’t say I blame him. It was a good battle, but in the end, I finished the race in 8th place. Not bad, but not awesome.

Race Stats


The post-race was spectacular as always, with a great spread of food, and lots of good friends to catch up with. Due to the numbers, there were some people there that I hadn’t seen in a while, so it was good to chat with everyone. Deanna was also very happy with her race, apart from some very painful blisters she developed on her heels. We’ll have to work on that to make sure the next race isn’t as painful for her! For the awards this time, Mike took an idea from our Christmas party where we did a gift exchange. Prizes were handed out, wrapped. Once there were no more prizes, winners had the option to steal from someone else. Also, people could either unwrap them or wait to see what was in them. It was pretty fun, although maybe a little long! No one seemed to mind though.

Once all the prizes were handed out and the food was gone, racers all went their separate ways to enjoy the rest of the day, which was stunning. It’s nice to be able to race, relax, and still be back home by around 2pm in the afternoon. We all left with smiles on our faces and looking forward to the next snowshoe race. I’ll be at that one as well, but won’t be doing a race video. Kind of tough to film in the dark after all :-), However, before that race is another snowshoe race I’ll be doing near Kingston, which will be a qualifier for the Snowshoe World championships! Wish me luck!! I will be doing a video from that one, so stay tuned. Till then, keep the waxed side down in the snow folks.

Video Race Review

Triathlon Tune-Up in Nation’s Capital

Happy at Finish

Welcome to another race report from me in this glorious summer weather that we’re having. As is often the case during the summer months, it becomes a bit challenging to keep things current on my website. There are a number of reasons for that. Firstly, it’s summer! I’d rather be outside doing stuff than trying to write great prose on my keyboard. Second, being summer, I have a lot of races and ‘stuff’ going on. Again, this limits my time to get things documented. And finally, this year, some of my races also have me acting as a race reporter, which adds to my post-race duties by producing and editing videos of the events. Getting tons of footage down to a 2 minute clip is actually quite challenging I’ve found, and takes a fair bit of time! At any rate, enough whining. I’m trying to catch up by writing up my race report for this year’s National Capital Triathlon that I just competed in. It was my 6th time competing in this event, and 4th doing the Olympic Tri distance (the other two times I did the Kayak Tri). Looking back, it turns out I haven’t done a proper Tri in almost 2 years, and it sort of showed in my results. I’ve swam about 3 times in that time, so I didn’t have very high hopes. However, with a looming Iron-distance triathlon, I knew I needed a little tune-up, so this event, a month before the Iron, seemed a good idea! Read on for a bit more on my race, and don’t forget to check out some pictures Deanna snapped!

Going into this one, I really had no pre-determined goals or time ideas. In fact, I didn’t even look at my past results or anything. I had no clue how my swimming speed would be, or whether I’d be able to push super-hard in all the disciplines. What’s even more refreshing, I didn’t care! I wore no heart rate monitor, and just wanted to go out, race hard, and have a fun time. My current trend in racing now is more about realizing that I will not improve without a lot more training, and I simply don’t want to commit to that much training for the improvements. Life has a lot more to offer me than training and the sacrifices that go with it. I have a motorbike now! Ha ha. I also have a new kayak that I like to paddle. But more specifically, I’m helping someone else grow their abilities on the bike and in the boats. Yup, I’m just enjoying spending time doing those things with Deanna. As a result, something had to give, and for me, that was podium dreams in most races. I’ll still go for it, but the obsession is just a little less these days. As long as I’m keeping fit and staying healthy and having fun, that’s good enough for me. After all, the pro sponsorship opportunities just never seemed to materialize. Guess I’ll be a working sucker till retirement!

Anywho, on with the actual race report. Luck was with us all once again on the weather front. It was an absolutely stunningly gorgeous day for a race. I was glad that the gun was going off at 8:30am, as a later start would have just been painful in the heat and sun. So, as groggy as I was getting up (and slightly resentful), it was for the best. Also, the early start meant we had the rest of the day ahead of us, and plans had already shaped up insofar as after the race, we’d be loading up the kayaks and heading to Meech Lake for some awesome Kayaking. I got to the site a little late, and had to rush to get my T-zone set up, as well as get my timing chip and body marking done. Along the way, I bumped into my friends Nicholas and Christine Allen, who were doing the Olympic and Sprint Triathlon respectively. I seem to see them at all the events I do, like ARs, Spartan race, and now this! Too funny. Great to see them though, and Nicholas and I ended up sort of racing each other within the race, which was fun. After getting my final checks done, I headed to the beach to zip up the wetsuit and await the start of the race.

To refresh everyone’s memories, in an olympic tri, you first swim 1.5km, then hop on bikes for a 40km time trial, and cap it off with a 10km road run. Taken individually, those are all relatively straightforward races, but string them together in one race, and you can have a lot of fun and challenges on any single leg. For the swim, as mentioned, I haven’t swam in a long time. However, I always say swimming is more art than strength. If you have a good stroke, you’ll always finish strong. Although I’ve not swam much, the overall time wasn’t too bad. I finished the swim in 30:46, which is about 2 mins. slower than the last 2 times I raced, and 2 minutes faster than the first time ever I’ve swam it. In other words, it was average for me. I was 41st out of the water to head to the bikes. The actual swim? Well, boring I suppose. As usual, the excitement at the start is when all the people are clamouring to get their space, with arms and legs flailing, you unavoidably get hit. Nothing new there. I focused on keeping my pace and swimming straight. Had I done a better job, I would have been faster. However, I felt good at the exit, and was ready to tear it up on the bike course.

Now on to the 4-lap, 40km individual time trial bike portion. When I hit the road, there weren’t too many other souls out there yet. I managed a pretty quick transition, and passed a couple folks while in the transition. Good start. Hopped on the bike, tucked into my aero position, and started mashing the pedals. As usual, the bike was super-comfortable, and I got into a nice groove. I expected to be able to maintain a pretty decent clip, and sort of hoped my time would compare to other tris I’ve done. Turns out my legs were a bit slower though. Perhaps it was the hard 50k I’d logged 2 days before with Kev in Gatineau Park, or perhaps I’m just too used to my leisurely commute riding rather than hard racing. Either way, my average speed was around 33km/h for the 40k course. That’s about 2km/h slower than my best, but faster than the other two attempts. However, it was good enough to have the 32nd fastest bike split of the race. So again, I’d call that a solid performance, perhaps slightly better than average for me. That only leaves the run course.

Ahhh running, how I love to hate thee :-). My transition from biking to running seemed even smoother than the swim to bike. I racked my bike, threw on my running gear, and was back out on the course with a very quick turnaround. Again, I noted that I passed a couple folks that had come off the bike at about the same time as me. I settled pretty quickly into a steady pace, once again paying no attention to what my watch might tell me about pacing, and rather, just focusing on my stride and how I felt. I got down to the business of picking people out ahead of me, targeting, and ultimately passing them. After a little bit I saw my friend Nick up ahead. We had been pretty close through the whole race, but he had said the run would be his undoing. I resisted the urge to sprint towards him, and instead just kept my pace. There was a woman with me keeping me at a pretty good pace. I found out at the finish that she was actually the 1st female overall (due to my help, stay tuned!). Working together, we got closer and closer to Nick. He glanced back a few times, seeming to be just waiting for the pass. He said he could hear my breath getting closer. I finally passed him on the first half of the 2nd 5k loop.

Once I had passed him, I kept my pace steady, running along with Michelle and chatting a little with her. At a few hundred meters to go, she said “We have to catch her”. This was in reference to a tall figure up ahead of us. Seeing as I liked targets, I said “sure thing” and gradually picked up my pace, dragging Michelle along with me. The gap was getting closed painfully slowly, and I finally caught up to the other woman on the final climb into the finishing chute. I picked up my pace slightly at the finish, crossing the line just ahead of them, unsure which of the two crossed first. If you look at the results, you’ll see all 3 of us had a time of 2:29:34, but Michelle was just after me, than the other woman. She credited me for the win, as I had paced her perfectly in order to get the pass at the finish. I felt a bit bad for the other woman, but was also kinda happy to be part of a rivalry out there :-). My time of 46:09 for the run was good enough for 14th overall in the run, and sewed up 22nd overall for me in the race. Best I can recall is that at the end of the bike, I had been sitting at 40th overall, so I made up 18 spots on the run. Very respectable. I’m pretty sure I’ll be counting on a strong run at the Iron distance tri to make up for shortcomings in the water and possibly on the bike!

All in all, it was a good day out on the race course, and I felt great for the whole event. So good in fact, that after eating and cleaning up a bit, we loaded up the kayaks and went paddling for over 3 hours on Meech Lake. Our reward for the day? Well, from our kayaks, we spent 20 minutes at one point watching a mama bear and her two cubs from about 10m from the shore. It was pretty incredible. They were foraging, playing and just generally wandering around near the water. At one point, mama let me know I was getting too close by standing up and snorting and huffing a bit. That was enough to convince me to back off a bit. She looked surprisingly large when standing up! Luckily, we were pretty sure we could out-paddle a swimming bear. Best I can tell is that a black bear can swim up to 8km/hr, whereas in my boat, I can easily manage 10+ km/hr (faster if being chased by a bear I’m sure!). So to summarize the whole day: perfect! Great race, great paddle with Deanna, and great relaxing once all was said and done. Next up: a short adventure race with Deanna, including a video review for Get Out There.