Canadian Snowshoe Champs to end Winter Race Season

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Good day to you all. As the title implies, this post will be another race report. This will be the final report for the 2010/11 winter race season, and I won’t have any more race reports to share with you all until my next race, the Frontier Adventure Challenge in late April! Till then, guess I’ll focus on my training and make sure that I take good care of all the nagging little aches and pains properly in order to be ready to storm into the 2011 summer race schedule! The final race in this season’s winter race schedule was the 4th Mad Trapper Snowshoe race, which was coincidentally also billed as the Canadian National Snowshoe championships. So do I have a new title to add to my resume you may be wondering? in a word: no 🙁 It really wasn’t my day, but I’m okay with that, and plan to tell you all about it after you head over to flickr and check out my little folder of pictures from the day.

Although February is the shortest month of the year, it has certainly been a busy month for racing and other fun things for me. Between the Winterlude Tri, the Gatineau Loppet, the Mad Trapper race, and guests visiting for Winterlude, there has barely been a day to recuperate! As a result, this past weekend’s race was something I was looking forward to, as I will now have almost 2 months to get back into the groove of training and maybe get around to starting a few other projects I want to address, like rebuilding a couple bikes, as well as starting work on a new bar for the basement! Time will tell if I’ll actually get to it or not, but at least I’ll have a little breathing room.

The week leading up to this race was once again quite cold, but we didn’t really get any real snow to speak of. I was rather nervous about snow conditions, but Mike was reporting that there should be pretty good coverage to the entire race. That coverage, as we soon find out, was actually rather interesting for the most part. I’ll explain that a little later. There had also been a little extra word-of-mouth marketing for the race, which dragged a whole slew of extra bodies out of the woodwork to challenge the trails. For a certain segment of the population, the appeal of taking part and possibly placing well in an event known as the ‘Canadian Championships’ holds a bit of weight. While I’m not totally bogged down in it, there is still a small part of me that would have loved to claim something like ‘top 3’ for something like that. Sadly, there would be slim hope of that.

As usual, the race was to get underway around 10am on Saturday. Deanna and I underwent our normal race morning preparations, and were out at the Ark with about 20 minutes to spare. I only did a very minor warm-up before gathering at the start line with the rest of my fellow racers. There was a pretty healthy starting field this time, with well over 40 racers out. In my category, there were 20 guys battling it out. With a number of new faces, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but lined up at the front as usual. For this race, I’d decided to run with a bottle in hand for the first loop, then have a gel close to the start line before starting loop 2, and ditching the bottle. That way, I figured I’d have more energy towards the end of the race and be able to hang on longer.

When the race got underway, I plopped myself as far forward as I dared, falling into the footsteps of the 2nd placed racer. Sweet, hanging on to 3rd place I thought to myself as we laboured up the first couple hills. That really didn’t last long though, and a few racers started jockeying for position and passed me. Hmmm, not sure what sort of pace they’d be able to maintain, so I let them get ahead a bit. Eventually I was looking ahead at about 8 people in front of me. Never far ahead, but just seemingly out of my reach. Sadly, that is how the rest of the race would run itself out. On the first loop, things stayed pretty tight, and I never totally lost touch with the group. However, at the end of that first loop, the front group splintered and started spreading out (or so I guessed, seeing as I no longer saw anyone!

For my part, I now realized I just didn’t have it in me today. I think I was foolish thinking I could recover from a 51km ski race and 6 hrs of hard snowboarding in less than a week. I was still sore from the activities of the past weekend, and although I felt ok mentally, there was just too much fatigue, and I couldn’t push my body as hard as I wanted. For a while, that got me down, but after doing a mental check, I decided it really didn’t matter at all. From the series standings, this race would be a throwaway. My previous three results netted me higher scores. Plus, my main competitors were already ahead in the standings, and I couldn’t claw them back. The next people back wouldn’t catch up either. In other words, I could afford to not really care.

With that in mind, on loop two, I pulled back ever so slightly, and just enjoyed my race. I actually took the time to look around as I ran the course, enjoying the sunshine through the trees and the various trail scenery around me. I also realized that this course, as a result of the conditions, was a bit tougher than previous races. For starters, the course was two different loops, so there was no such thing as a ‘packed trail’. With the various snows and thaws, we were left with almost no visible tracks, and some areas with deep, crusted snow, and other areas completely devoid of anything besides frozen dirt. It made for a challenging run. On open fields and some forested areas, we’d be breaking trail, but also unable to run ‘flat’. In other words, my ankles always seemed to be angled. Also, the lead runners strides were about 20% too long for me. So while they could just follow each others’ footsteps, I had to break stride and create my own new tracks. That’s tough going over several kilometers!

Needless to say, by the time I actually crested the final hill for the race, I was quite happy to be done. I wasn’t exhausted in the same way I normally am for these races, but I was still tired. Deanna was there to greet me, but could tell right away I was a little frustrated with my race. I wasn’t alone in that feeling either. I truly felt defeated that day. However, we live to fight another day, right? I picked up my pride, and got on with enjoying the post-race atmosphere. The chili was superb, and the crowd was fun. The Ark was pretty much as full as I’d ever seen it, with lots of racers and spectators on hand to enjoy the day. Although I’d had a bad day at the office, I knew that I’d be back next year to race all 4 races again. Plus, there’s a good chance that Deanna will be racing a few more times next year too.

When all the snow was settled, I found myself crossing the finish line in 9th place. Definitely not the finish I had hoped for, but okay nonetheless considering the company I was racing with that day! My time was 1:09:38. For comparison, Alex finished in first place with a time of 1:01:43. That guy is an animal out there on the snowshoes. That victory put him as undefeated this season. He was nearly a full minute ahead of 2nd place Rob with a time of 1:02:33. I came about a minute and a half behind the next racer, but a full 3 minutes ahead of 10th place. As expected, the results of this race were discounted for the series standing for me, and I secured 4th place overall in the series with my other results. There’s always next year, right? I fear it will only get tougher to finish higher as better racers learn how fun these races are.

Regardless of the final standings, once again the entire Mad Trapper race series was totally worth doing. Costing me a mere $100 for advance registration in 4 races, it really was a no-brainer. I’m already looking forward to next year’s adventures. So there you have it friends, the final winter racing post of the season from yours truly. The next little while will likely be kinda quiet, apart from a couple updates on training and other goings-on. Stay cool till then people! Time to get back out there and have some fun now!!

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