Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pooh Hill Snowshoe Race

That's me, near the finish

The snowshoe race was awesome! It was around 8 degrees at the start, but I got good and warm within the first quarter mile. I worked hard! The race took place at King Pine Ski Area in Madison, NH. The course was mostly sheltered and wooded. The trail was about 50% nordic groomed and 50% ungroomed. There were plenty of small hills and one monster called Pooh Hill.

At the start I couldn't believe how fast people were running on snowshoes. They ran as if they were on bare roads running in racing flats. I haven't run in a short distance race in a very long time and I forgot how fast some runners can move! I tried not to get pulled along with the fast runners, but found myself in oxygen debt within the first kilometer. As soon as I recognized that I was working too hard, I reigned in my pace and got into a good rhythm. Before the race I had mentioned to Tom that I wasn't sure how to pace myself since I had never raced on snowshoes and hadn't run a short race in many years. He pointed out a woman who had run many of the snowshoe races last year. Tom told me to "stick with her, she knows what she's doing." Without even looking for her, I found myself running right behind her almost from the start. I followed her for the first 4km. She set a good steady pace which really helped me.

Early in the race I fell twice on ungroomed portions of trail. Both times I only went down on my knees and got right up again hardly breaking pace. For the first 6 km Brian, from my running club, and I traded places several times and exchanged a few friendly words between gasps for air. I stayed with Brian all the way up Pooh Hill and down again. Pooh Hill was ungroomed and steep. As far as I was concerned, It was unrunnable on the uphill. I did a strong march all the way up, passing a few other runners. Then there was a steep, sliding, scrambling, tumbling, fast descent down on loose snow. There were times when it felt more like skiing than running on that downhill! I just went with it and had a blast on that stretch. When we got to the bottom of Pooh Hill and back onto groomed trail, I saw Kathy just starting up and we yelled to each other. Then Brian said, "hey, that's Tom in front of us." When we caught up to him we figured out together that he had somehow missed the turn for the climb up Pooh Hill. I wished him well and pushed on.

With about 2k to go, Brian started pulling away. I wasn't feeling winded like earlier in the race, instead I was feeling total leg fatigue. Before the race I had talked with Dianne from my running club and we both said we wanted to run the entire race, only walking the uphill portion of Pooh Hill. So, despite the exhausted legs, I pushed on to the finish without walking. There were markers at each km and I was really happy to see the 7km mark. But the last km started to feel long and painful, where was the freakin' finish line? Then I remembered the race director had told us the course was actually 8 1/2 km instead of 8. Let me tell you, that extra half km hurt! I finshed strong and was happy to have run as hard as I could for the entire distance. It always feels good at the end of a race to know you couldn't have run any faster.

We stuck around for the raffle and awards. I won the woman's master division, which was nice, but in my mind I am still competing against the 25-year-olds so I don't consider it a real win. Then 7 of us went to the Poor People's Pub for lunch and beer. It was an all around nice day. I think I like snowshoe Racing!

Kathy, coming in with a smile.


  1. Nice write up about the race, and I agree, it was awesome. Chris Dunn (RD) puts on some great events. If you like this race you'll love Cobble Mt as well. Congrats on your masters win too! I on the other hand am forced to battle it out with the young guns (being on the upper end of the 0-44 age group) :-)

  2. Thanks, Steve. I vow to improve my performance at Cobble Mt!