_DSC0117I went into the 2011 Bradbury Squall having no idea about what to expect, having never run a snowshoe race before and having run an ultramarathon the previous weekend. Since I didn’t know how long it would take me, how fast I could run, or how I would compare to the other runners, I just wanted to finish in the top third of all finishers and called that good for my goal going into the race.

There were 32 finishers, and I finished 10th, so mission accomplished.

I’m not quite sure how I managed to make that goal, though…my friends took a look at my snow shoes and were quite happy since that gave them a chance to beat me in a race for a change. My shins were all black and blue a few days after the race…my canoes are not meant for running. Every single step involved the front of the snowshoe coming up and whacking me in the shin.

As we were getting called over to the starting line, I lined up about 4 or 5 feet back since I figured I had no business being right up front. But then Judson Cake lined up next to me, and everybody else lined up next to or behind the two of us, so we actually started quite a ways back from the starting line, which rather amused me.

_DSC0062There were 10 guys who went out ahead of me right from the get go, and within a mile or so I’d sort of figured out how to run in my snowshoes. I got passed right before turning off of the groomed double track but then passed my friend Alan halfway up towards the summit.

I caught up to Jeremy Bonnett (who had passed me) around a mile into the race and just let him pace me the rest of the way since he was moving at a good clip while not going so fast that my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest.

Chuck Hazzard caught up to me and basically did the same thing within a half mile or so of that so the 3 of us ran in a line together until there was about 3/4 or a mile to go.

As we were nearing the end of the Boundary Trail, Jeremy took the straight line up a small steep hill on the and was doing his best to make me work for a pass (since I wasn’t asking for one he didn’t feel a need to move out of the way) but I went out of my way and around a tree because it looked like it would be easier and I wound up in front of him anyway. From there, I just tried to bust my butt and put some separation between myself and him and Chuck, and I wound up beating Chuck by 6 seconds and Jeremy by 21 seconds. I also came within a half a minute of 9th place, Jeff Walker, but I never saw him until the very end.

It was a ton of fun, and I can’t wait for the next race. The course had a small amount of groomed trail but most of it took place on single track. There were some good climbs, and also a lot of crazy drops that I’d be scared to run down that fast in the Summer given how rooty and rocky and steep it is (normally we run that part of the trail in the opposite direction.)

_DSC0022I tried on some of the loaner snowshoes provided by Dion after the race, and it’s amazing what a difference that makes. They only weigh a pound and are much smaller than my snowshoes; it’s not much different than running in normal shoes by feel.

I’ve already put my name in to borrow a pair for next race, and it will be interesting to see how well I can run on fresher legs and with smaller, lighter snowshoes. The second race is 4.25 miles or so and the last is 5 miles, with all 3 on the mountain side of the park.

After the race, there was some very tasty soup, the awards ceremony, and a raffle for the remaining prizes that allowed the majority of the people that stuck around after the race to all go home with something.