JANUARY ROUNDUP PART 4 – MT TOM SCRAMBLE 4.4/8.8Mi SLIPPERY TRAIL RACES

Race results for the 1/25/2020 Mt Tom Scramble trail races can be found here. Note that trail races receive half series points.

A huge thank you to RD Amy Rusiecki and her crew of volunteers, who keep hanging in there despite years of poor conditions and somehow manage to make the course more interesting every year. This is currently our only race in MA and their hard work is very much appreciated!

JANUARY ROUNDUP PART 3 – COCK-A-DOODLE-SHOE SNOWSHOE RACES

Race results for the 1/19/2020 Cock-a-Doodle-Shoe Snowshoe races can be found here.

Our thanks to RD Jeremy Drowne and his crew of volunteers for a top-notch romp through miles of snow and a bewildering maze of trails (along with lots of swag!)

COCK-A-DOODLE-SHOE SNOWSHOE RACES, 2020 EDITION
by Laura Clark

While hens in semi-heated barns are going into hibernation mode and reluctant to lay, that isn’t stopping the Cockadoodle Shoe rooster from getting his exercise. At first it appeared as if the weather would be a repeat of last year, with heavy day-of snowfall making snowmobiles the vehicle of choice to negotiate over the access road to Saranac’s New Land Trust.  Even still, with the snow focused mainly on Saturday, our Saratoga carpool of Jen Ferriss, Matt Miczek and myself barely made the cutoff, claiming one of the last few remaining parking spots.

I had just finished viewing Ben Stiller’s Escape at Dannemora after getting up close and personal with the prison building when driving through town before the North American Snowshoe Championships at New Land Trust in 2018.  It is a given that all prisons are scary and forbidding, but Dannemora, abutting as it does flush against the town’s main drag, dominates not only the physical but also the mental atmosphere. From the street you can see the guard towers and count the guns, effectively squashing any window shopping impulses.  Truly, I did not expect to like the movie, but was just curious to view the prison.  But the acting is superb, highlighting the emotions of the prisoners and the workers, who might as well have been inmates.  On the drive up, I noted many small, dated homes that most likely housed some of these workers and felt as if I were in a movie set.

One of the neatest things about Cockadoodle is that the Race Director  Jeremy Drowne insists on a dedicated kids’ race, something you don’t often see in the snowshoeing circuit.  Not only that, he insists that everyone abandon the warm Clubhouse and emerge to cheer the contestants as they make their circuit.  And you’d better be there, as the race directions are given outside while we await the children’s return.  Then, and only then, are you permitted the warmup ¼ mile hike to the start in the Meadow.

The New Land Trust is a gem, with carefully laid-out trails, providing many miles of intersecting loops.  I kept myself amused during the race trying to spot all the unique trail signs: Darkside, Zen, Solstice. While Cockadoodle jettisoned its claim to one of the coldest venues on our circuit (-7 for the North American Championship), this year it is well on its way to the “most snow award,” with lots of heavy leg lifts required and noticeably slower finishing times.  But results are never linear on non-groomed routes and can be viewed more in comparison to other entrants than to preceding years.

The most challenging section comes near the end, where pink ribbons direct you away from the way home and onto yet another single track loop.  And while this woodsy trail was black-foresty and definitely fun, it was difficult to appreciate so close to the end.  When I emerged, I thought I had perhaps a mile to the finish and was stunned to see the Clubhouse right in front of me.  If I had known that I would have picked it up sooner rather than lapsing into a “miles to go” routine.  Next year, then!

—  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.

 

JANUARY ROUNDUP PART 2 – GORE NORDIC CITIZENS’ RACE #1

Race results for the 1/14/2020 Gore Nordic Citizens’ Race #1 Slightly Less Than 5k Snowshoe Race can be found here.

A huge thank you to the staff at Gore Nordic who somehow managed to keep track of classic skiers, skate skiers, and snowshoers, all doing different numbers of laps on the same course at the same time – and then somehow had raffle prizes for virtually everyone in the room who stayed after.

JANUARY ROUNDUP PART 1 – RETURN OF GET REC’D RESULTS & REPORT

Race results for the 1/5/2020 Return of Get Rec’d Somewhat Less Than 10k Snowshoe Race can be found here.

Thank you RD Mike Owens for pulling this race together after being told that the original venue wouldn’t be hosting the race after all and finding a way to make the so-so conditions work when every other snowshoe race in the region was cancelling or postponing.

GET REC.’D/WRECKED
by Laura Clark

For years I had always assumed that rec.’d had meant something along the lines of get rec.’d at your local recreation center. But in the interest of journalistic truth, I decided on a superficial investigation. According to Professor Google, rec.’d could have any one of ten possible meanings, most prominent being “received,” which in terms of a snowshoe race makes little sense. Runner-ups include recommended and reconnaissance.  I rather like reconnaissance as in scouting out a route…but still.  After five minutes of prolonged searching I cast my ballot for get recreation, leaning heavily on the homophone, wrecked. For the uninitiated, homophones are two words that sound the same but are spelled differently.

And so ends the educational portion of this account.  The rest is true-to-life storytelling….

Four of us optimistically set out for Get Rec.’D Snowshoe Race and Hike at the Town of Stratton Recreation Center, perched as it were across the tracks from the Disney-cloned Stratton Mountain Ski Resort.  For most of the drive Maureen Roberts, Jen Ferris, Matt Miczek and I had our doubts as we drove seamlessly next to browned fields.  Our vehicle, Sir Thomas was getting bored, having encountered nothing worthy to challenge his new, spiky studs.  I was concerned he was going to fall asleep.  But as we neared our goal, Maureen suggested yet another of her famous shortcuts which would fortuitously bypass Stratton’s congestion.  Obviously, she had never tried this in the winter.  The limited access road reared straight up over an icy, rutted lane that had never seen a plow.  Sir Thomas had a blast; me, not so much.  Actually, up was OK but I outright refused to drive down lest we did get truly wrecked.

Despite being in a different state and in a different month, GR has much in common with ARE’s Brave the Blizzard which had migrated all over the Albany area before settling in Tawesentha.  This was the second time GR had touched down at the Stratton Rec Park.  Other venues included Lowell Lake State Park and the laid-back Magic Mountain Ski Resort.

The race was billed as a hopeful 10K USSSA qualifier, with the possibility of an 8K downgrade if conditions warranted.  What we got was the euphemistically termed hard-packed route frosted over with a few inches of hopeful snow.  Still better than anything else around.

If you have ever participated in the classic WMAC snowshoe races with his and her snowpiles, in-car registration and barrel heating, you will appreciate GR.  But at least Stratton had a state-of-the-art outhouse and a three-sided shed.  And while many won maple syrup awards, we all need to work on our fire-building skills as we left with that smokey, woodsman scent.  But at least for the Rich Busas among us there was no possibility of singeing our snowshoes.

At the start, RD Mike Owens was thrilled to announce that the route was indeed a legal 10K journey.  I suppressed a groan, not sure on the week’s transition from 5K to 10K racing form.  The course was truly maze-like but competently marked with different colored taping and flagging.  I did get confused at one point but that was only because I couldn’t believe I was successfully navigating such a complex trail.  Featuring the same huge uphill twice, the original title “8K Snowshoe Race and Hike” took on new significance.  Still…there I was almost at the end.  I knew it was the end because I could spot Maureen’s bright yellow jacket just ahead of me at the finish line.  I was ecstatic!  Here I was in the first 10K of the season and I felt like I still had more to give!  Truth was, I should have, as the route turned out to be short in distance.  But not short in effort as the steep hills would attest.  All in all, a satisfying attempt, preparing us for the upcoming Cockadoodle, 10K in length but not nearly as formidable as those legendary Vermont hills.

—  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.