by Laura Clark
Bet that header got your attention. Unfortunately, you are too late. The final event in the Dion Snowshoe Series, Nor’easter’s March 7 Punxsutaweny Phil 5K at the Viking Nordic Center in Londonderry, Vermont included a pop-up birthday bash. The Catch 22, of course, is that Phil’s birthday was the previous Sunday and not the following Saturday. But that only gave Phil more opportunity to solidify his prediction of an early spring….
The route was indeed spring-like, with frozen granular and a few aspiring puddles peeking through, but excellent for a fast 5K tour through the woods. Occurring as it did before the Spring Ahead mandate, headlamps were required but really not necessary as the fortuitous placement of the full moon, assorted trail lights and kerosene lanterns provide plenty of illumination. I have come to a greater appreciation of the cast iron stomachs colonials must have possessed to eat their supper while breathing in the fumes. Running was another matter altogether, but in my mind it was a small price to pay for the atmosphere.
For me, the most difficult thing to deal with was the timing of the event. While I love the concept of running in the dark, where it always feels as if you are motoring faster than you really are, it is more difficult to wait around on the weekends. The Tuesday evening Gore Mountain race series was easier to approach. You go to work and then drive to the mountain. Here, on a weekend, when I am accustomed to waking up and going for a long run, things played out a bit differently. While I did get my errands done while other folks were still watching their Saturday morning cartoons, I then had to figure how to spend the rest of my day. Did I tire myself out with housecleaning? And when and what to eat for lunch?
Clearly, the nutritional aspect was already bothering our car mate, Maureen Roberts, who kept chatting about finding a convenience store to score some sustenance afterwards. Matt Miczek and myself, who had been to Viking before, looked at each other incredulously and wondered where she would find a store open at night in the middle of true Vermont countryside, even if it was Saturday.
I have been listening to Ben Thompson’s irreverent Guts and Glory series, nonfiction accounts of various pivotal moments of world history. Coincidently, my current download is titled: The Vikings. So I was able to distract Maureen with trivial pursuit-type facts. For example, did you know the legend of the Tooth Fairy was created by Viking mothers who rewarded loose teeth with sweets? Apparently that was before the advent of dentists. How about this one: Vikings discovered and then forgot about Iceland a total of three times before they finally broke out their snowshoes and settled it on the fourth try. If you are into history or have kids you want to entertain, these are humorous, lively and totally non-boring accounts. (End of infomercial).
Moving right along…The Viking Nordic Center also has cabins to rent and one of these was occupied by a huge group celebrating two birthdays with two kegs of beer, Sloppy Joes and lots of desserts whether or not you had recently lost a tooth. And they urged all the racers to stop by after we had sampled mulled cider, pie and fudge in the race cabin. What a deal! A race, a party and a dinner solution! And it was even better than that – trails can seem lonely at night, so the whole crew came out to cheer us on. Feeling somewhat obligated, we hiked over (groan) to their cabin, Maureen all the while insisting it was “for the story” and not the beer. Weirdly, one of the families hailed from Cambridge, NY, a town near Saratoga, and Dr. Maureen had interned with the local doctor!
While we arrived home very late and still had to officially Spring Ahead, (think New Year’s Eve), Matt had still another party to attend. The rest of us hung up our snowshoes and went to bed…. a wonderful end to the 2020 Snowshoe Season!
— Laura Clark is an avid snowshoer, trail runner, XC skier, race director, 2017 World Snowshoe Federation Championship 70-99 Female Age Group winner, and 2018 National Championship Half Marathon 70-99 Female Age Group winner