BROOKHAVEN SNOWSHOE RACE #1 RESULTS & LAURA’S RACE REPORT

Race results from last Sunday’s races at Brookhaven can be found here.

CHASING SUNBEAMS AT BROOKHAVEN

by Laura Clark

photos courtesy of Rebecca Sewell

If you are always comfortable, it is not special. – Gary Cantrell

The above quote comes from Gary Cantrell’s latest column in the December/January issue of Ultrarunning magazine. If you are not familiar with Gary, know that under his pseudonym Lazarus Lake, he is the director of one of the toughest races on the planet, the Barkley Marathons, inspired by James Earl Ray’s attempted escape from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary into Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee. In 35 years there have been 15 finishers of the 100 mile course. Laz also directs Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra, a last person standing event which sometimes goes into four days of 4.167 mile loops, which must be completed every hour. For Laz Lake, comfort is all relative.

Brookhaven Snowshoe

Simple, no frills racing. Starting line + follow the arrows.

There has been a lot written about the effects of COVID restrictions on the human psyche, and I thought of this when I read Cantrell’s essay, “Misery.” No one would have wished this, in the same way that no one really wants to run through an ice storm, but admittedly there is a certain satisfaction in glimpsing the almost-end. These past two years, trail and snowshoe races have carried on, albeit in modified format. Road races not so much. Even overlooking the fact that there are generally more folks participating in road races, and hence more exposure, perhaps trail runners are more willing to accept misery and do not need as much coddling. Last year we reverted back to the “good old days” fondly recalled by runners of a certain age—no fancy gear, no wicking tees, no indoor plumbing. All of our events were strictly outdoors with folks basing out of their cars. And it worked. We were afforded a training goal, got to see our buddies at the appropriate 6 foot spacing and most importantly, felt just a little bit normal.

Now, with the first two snowshoe races of the 2021-2022 Dion WMAC Snowshoe Series in the books, we have fallen into the lap of luxury. Gore Mountain Resort offered up their ski lodge, complete with fireplace for our comfort, and Brookhaven Golf Course based from their wood-paneled restaurant and full-service bar (need I say more?) Bob Underwood of Underdog Race timing got to finally take off his jacket and register us indoors and afterwards proudly displayed the race results on his flat screen. We got to hang out with friends and enjoy a hot drink and a meal together. And Cantrell was so right—we appreciated these amenities so much more after not having had them for such a long time.

Brookhaven Snowshoe

Thank you to the volunteers!

And after what seemed like weeks of overcast weather we finally saw the sun. Kudos to the Brookhaven staff who managed to eke out a course with a bare minimum of available snow. While snow cover in the woods was scant, we did get a grand tour of the golf course with no need to hunt for hidden flags—all we had to do was follow the corduroy “yellow brick road” for a carefree tour on glistening snow. Hopefully, for their next event on February 5 we will be back into the woods.

And now it seems fitting to join Gary Cantrell in redefining misery, especially after my following day’s two-hour snowshoe slog with freezing rain encasing my jacket: “Misery is a life without discomfort.” It is a life without pushing outside the comfort zone to see what we are truly capable of. So whatever the weather or the circumstances, get out there and invest in future good vibes – like we shared at Brookhaven.

—  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

SAT 1/8/22: Brookhaven 5k IS ON!

SAT 1/8/22: Brookhaven 5k Porter Corners NY
online reg & info

from the registration page:

Come out to Brookhaven Park for the Second Annual Brookhaven Snowshoe Race.

The Town of Greenfield is excited to welcome you to our FREE Nordic ski/Snowshoe Park. Brookhaven Golf Course turns in to a winter wonderland for ski and snowshoe enthusiasts each winter!

Trails are groomed by a dedicated group of volunteers using state of the art equipment.

Our  conditions are great, our trails are well groomed, the scenery is fantastic and the course is ready for you.

Day of registration and bib pick up will start at 9 AM.  The race will start at 10 am.    Results will be posted online at: www.underdogtiming.com as well as on the Town of Greenfield Center Facebook page.

Please wear a mask and keep it on at all times when not racing.  Please maintain safe social distancing and we will have a great day.

The clubhouse will be open and serving food and drinks to enjoy after the race.  Enjoy the warmth and have lunch.

UPCOMING RACES JAN 8-JAN 23

SAT 1/8/22: Brookhaven 5k Porter Corners NY – just got word this is on!
online reg & info

SUN 1/9/22: Get Rec’d 8k Stratton VT – cancelled, may be rescheduled to a later date

SUN 1/9/22: Winona Forest Norway 5k Mannsville NY – not a part of the DION WMAC series but happening as either a snowshoe race (more than 4″ of snow) or “freestyle” if insufficient snow
online reg & info

WED 1/12/22: Gore Citizens’ Evening Race North Creek NY – snowshoe or ski 1-4 loops every Wednesday in Jan & Feb
Gore Nordic Center event calendar

SAT 1/15/22: Canterbury Shaker Village 2-4mi Canterbury NH – not a part of the DION WMAC series
online reg & info

SUN 1/16/22: Cock-a-Doodle-Shoe 5k/10k Saranac, NY – preregistration required
online reg & info

WED 1/19/22: Gore Citizens’ Evening Race North Creek NY – snowshoe or ski 1-4 loops every Wednesday in Jan & Feb
Gore Nordic Center event calendar

SUN 1/23/22: Gurney Lane 5k Queensbury NY
online reg & info

SUN 1/23/22: Winona Forest Stone Wall 5k/10k Mannsville NY – not a part of the DION WMAC series
online reg & info

Kicking off the Season at Gore Mountain Ski Bowl

by Laura Clark

Photos from the 2018 race courtesy of  Paul Allison & the Gore Nordic staff

Our 2021-22 Dion WMAC Snowshoe season was all set to begin at its traditional kickoff location at Gore Mountain Ski Bowl, North Creek, NY. Torrential rain the day before postponed the race to the following Sunday.  And luckily, we received a mid-week snowfall.  For many years now, Gore has hosted our first race of the season, being a spot where higher elevations and snow making equipment pretty much always guarantee a smooth ride. 

I am beyond the age where I get anxious at the start line, unless I am doing a “stretch” event where I am challenging my abilities.  But still, this time around I was nervous.  We had had no snowfall to speak of in the lowlands and I was unable to get in a practice run beforehand.  Not that I had somehow forgotten how to snowshoe, but because the hot weather interval made me forget what combinations of gear generally worked. How many layers of socks, mittens and shirts would I need? Don’t forget the running skirt to keep kicked-off snow from sliding down my butt, and remember the torn-up plastic bag pieces I save to stuff into the ankle portion of my socks to keep my husband’s good luck too-big sneakers from flopping around.  And where am I even going to get these newspaper plastic sleeves once my stash runs out?

The biggest challenge, though, was in locating all my gear.  I thought I had developed the perfect system: individual Walmart storage containers for gloves, hats, neck gaiters, arm warmers, etc.  On paper it looks good.  In reality not so much, as most of my running gear is standard-issue black.  Try sorting out dozens of pairs of black mittens that have lost their mates!

Another problem for some of us was that this was the first really cold day and the race pretty much begins on an uphill.  Fine, you might say, “A great opportunity to warm up really fast.  But those of you with asthma know where I am going here.  Starting fast is not good unless you thrive on choking.  That and the COVID masks required at the start were not the sturdy neck gaiters I should have been wearing to block the cold air.

Because of the reliance on snowmaking, the course consisted of 4 loops of the ski route.  For some reason, I never seem to mind the repetition.  It is nice to know what is coming and to endeavor to push harder on each succeeding run around.  I would scout out the best paths up or down and try to remember them for next time.  Also, the open course reveals several switchbacks where you can view fellow competitors in a less threatening way as they are not charging down a hill at you from the opposite direction.

Gore was a true bounce back event as we could once more enjoy the fireplace at the Lodge post-race and didn’t have to freeze afterwards in wet running clothes in the outdoor pavilion.  Because of the postponement and the urgencies of Christmas plans, the crowd was smaller than usual but everyone present scored great raffle prizes: duffels, hats, car blankets, etc.  And the volunteers and staff were truly amazing, skiing to various sections of the course to give us encouragement.  Tim Van Orden, who competed in the morning ski races, skied by multiple times to cheer us along by name.

And the ride back home, at least for those of us who reside south of the mountain was truly memorable.  We were treated to a Pacific Islands-worthy sunset that started out golden and progressed to a rosy-hued winter landscape.  It was difficult to keep your eyes on the road!

Tune in on Wednesday evenings beginning January 12th for casual weekly family-style loops for snowshoers, Nordic and skate skiers.

—  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