Sunday, December 13, 2009

Getting on My Soap Box for a Change

The Granite State Snowshoe Grand Prix team competition is shaping up to be interesting. The way the team scoring works, the more runners you have the better your team scores. It helps to have fast runners, but it helps more to have a LOT of runners. So I have been fielding email requests and hints from various people about joining one or the other of the two "super teams" that exist in the New Hampshire snowshoe circuit. Team "A" or Team "D" are the only teams that could possible win the series because they have the numbers. All you have to do to be part of either of these teams is to put the team name on your race form. You too, could belong to a winning team! It's that easy!

I have never believed in "pick up teams" in any form of running. You either belong to a team or club, or you don't. I once ran for a competitive women's team who brought in a "ringer" for an important women's race. All of us that had trained with and competed with each other for the entire season felt hurt and confused. I never ran for that team again. It's just not fair to the other teams or to the people who are truly on the team. If you can't win it on your own, you don't deserve to win it.

The concept of scoring based on how many runners are in a race and how many runners your team has in that race is ridiculous. It's even more ludicrous that you can just keep recruiting and adding runners to your roster as the season progresses. This is not "team competition." It makes a lot more sense to encourage a lot of teams to compete by only scoring your top 5 or top 7 runners, or scoring the top age group winners in each race. Rewarding teams based on how many runners they have will eventually put an end to the whole team competition aspect of the series. There will only be one team because everyone will want to be on the winning team!

I love snowshoe racing. I'm not sure about the New Hampshire series this year, but I'll definitely be doing some New England races. If I do run any New Hampshire Series races I'll be putting Rochester Runners as my team on my entry form. We have an excellent chance of finishing third in the series this year as we'll be the only runners out there that don't belong to team "A" or team "D". Next year there will probably only be a team "A&D" so Rochester Runners will probably finish second!


  1. I don't expect anyone from any team banging on my door to join. We will be signing up as Rochester Runners. I'm still proud of my 4th place finish in the series last year.

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  4. I am going to assume you were referring to Dungeon Rock Racing as team “D”?
    Your remarks cut really deep and I feel that you misunderstood our intent.
    DRR raced our first season last year. We had a great time pushing Acidotic, and a great time at the races. Team Acidotic are marvelous hosts and professional competitors to the end. Yes, DRR has a lot of team members (just shy of 30 last year) yes that bodes well for any race or race series that has a team scoring component. Regardless of the team component the fastest, strongest, surest racer usually wins don’t they?
    Last year our teammates made it to the podium on a few occasions in the Granite State series (Acidotic has a really nice podium) and we even sent five members to nationals. I apologize if our pulling folks together, attempting to increase the numbers involved in the sport has had a negative impact. Our intent has been, and will continue to be a focus on introducing folks to the sport of snowshoe racing no matter their gender, age, or speed, heck we even try to hold “demo days” loaning gear to folks so they can try out the sport. We had one session last season with over 22 participants, only a few of whom went on to race the rest decided they preferred recreational snowshoeing.
    Your sentiment is duly noted and we have taken steps (last October) to reduce the “rolling” recruitment of new members. I would be more than happy to answer questions or address any concerns that you or anyone else has about DRR. Feel free to contact me at anytime.
    Have a great season!

  5. I was ging to post a few of the personal e-mails i got in response to this post (I received quite a few), but removed them as i decided it wasn't fair. I'll just post the ones meant for Blog veiwing and take the others into consideration in my own veiw of things.

  6. It's too bad you feel this way Laurel. The scoring in the GSSS is setup to include EVERYONE, not just the fast guys. It encourages team competition (regardless of ability) and promotes growing the sport of snowshoe racing.

    Yes, aR had great participation in all races but we are not a super team. I'm pretty sure Rochester Runners has 2x-3x (if not more) the number of members as aR. Does that make RR a super team? All it takes to become a RR is to put your name on an application, right?

    Like Dan said above, in any race it still comes down to the fastest, strongest, etc.. Take out the team participation aspect of the GSSS scoring and the top 5 teams finish exactly the same in 2009.

    These two teams did a lot to promote snowshoe racing in NH and also helped generate the interest and excitement that some of us see for the 2010 season. In my opinion they should be congratulated, not vilified.

  7. Well, I certainly didn't mean to "vilify" anyone. I was just trying to encourage Granite State Series participants to stay loyal to the teams they are already on. A lot of recruiting of snow shoers who were already showing up at the races and running independently or for other teams, was going on during the series last year. This took away from the whole team competition aspect in my opinion.

    Both Chris (in a private e-mail) and Dan (in his blog response) say that this ongoing enlistment of runners won't be as prevailant this year. Also, the scoring system is going to be very different this year so finishing well weighs much more heavily than just having a lot of finishers. It sounds to me like a much more sporting way of doing it.

    Individual scoring, which I didn't even touch on in my post, will also be more fair this year. Last year if you didn't run Frosty's you moved way down in the standings because that race had so many participants. Also if you couldn't make one or two of the races you moved way down. The new scoring system should show us who the fastest racers are at the end of the season. I can't speak for the men's side, but this wasn't the case on the women's side last year. I know I WASN'T the second fastest women in the series last year, but I placed 2nd because of the scoring system.

    Wouldn't you like to see a half dozen well represented teams line up at the starting line at the races this year? Yes, Acidotic or Dungeon Rock would probably still win the series because they have some darned fast racers, but it would really make things more exciting for all the teams racing for third!

    As much as i hate getting on my soap box, I got some constructive and informative feedback and don't think I've made any enemies. :)

  8. Oh, to answer Steve about RR... as with any club that is a member of RRCA, you have to register to become a member and a club roster is kept. We have yearly re-newal of our membership, which involves a small fee. We aren't a competitive club, although we do have a few fast guys. You'll never see us winning the series, but we might be able to get a few more participants out on the snow this year!

  9. This whole thing of the fastest teams recruiting the fastest runners reminds me of schoolyeard pickup sports, where there was always a few kids who wanted all the best players on there team so they wouldn't have to worry about the competition beating them. But, every once in a while the underdog team would kick butt because they were inspired to push themselves harder, just for the satisfaction of sticking it too the more talented team.
    I think team size should be limited, it might even encourage aR and DR to have some internal competion among themselves.

  10. Even though I am a member of team "D" I really only run races to challenge myself, to explore trails in a new location, for the camaraderie of running with like-minded crazies and to have fun. FUN!! Isn't that why we're out there? Well, that's why I'm out there. I'll leave all the stressing about wins and losses to you fast folks.

    PS Please don't tell my team captain I'm not out there to win. ;-)

  11. Amen to having fun, Dan! I really had no idea people were taking the whole snowshoe racing thing so seriously. I was only trying to encourage people to stick with their own teams instead of joining one of the big ones. This was for the sake of keeping the team competition fun for the rest of us whose teams can't compete with the big teams.

    I was out on my snowshoes yesterday and smiled the entire time. That's what it's about!

  12. Laurel,
    I'm still waiting for some snow down here. It's looks like the Beaver Brook race could be the first time I put on my snowshoes. Not good for me. I need all the practice I can get! See you there.