Well as you probably know by now, race #4 in the Fleet Feet Snow Cheap Winter Trail Race series is in the books last week on Wednesday evening. I was getting jazzed up to run it as I left work a little early to make sure I got there on time and didn’t get stuck in the ridiculous rush hour traffic. I was a little more nervous than normal at this race because I knew if I won the race that night, I would automatically clinch the entire series with 4 wins out of 6 races.
I got there right around 5:15 or so for a 6pm start and changed, picked up the packet, got the timing chip and chatted with a few folks. There was a nervous energy in the air and I saw Kurt Spacher there at the lodge before the race and we decided to go on a little warm up together. (Kurt’s been the one who has been chasing me down each race and I’m just waiting for the day that he blows by me and I can’t respond)
We headed out for a short 3 mile or jaunt down the street and chatted a little bit, he brought up the fact that a little birdie told him that I once ran a sub 2:00 half mile and I told him that was many moons ago and I was lucky to still have a sliver of that speed left. Maybe that’s the edge that I needed that night.
The race was another snowshoe trek thru the grounds around Cobbs. The “gun” went off and we tromped thru the now ankle deep sections and some where on trail shoes and some were snowshoeing thru the drifts. Race Director Greg put us up the “Rocky Hill” immediately and it was a good test to see who had legs that night.
There started out with a few of us out front but it quickly got whittled down to me and Kurt bombing thru the woods. I have a headlamp that is none too luminous and Kurt’s is about a bright as daylight. We were bombing thru the woods and I kept hearing him breathe over my shoulder and his lamp was flickering behind me as his head moved around. It seriously looked like a bad horror movie behind me (partly because I was running scared and partly because the “strobe” light behind me illuminating the woods)
About a mile and a quarter in, I eased up a tad. We were going uphill and I wanted a little reprieve. Kurt made a move to get around me and he went. I kept my sights on him and he only had the lead for about 4 minutes. We went up to the top off the reservoir and there was some deep stuff there and he was slipping around on his trail shoes. I took this as an opportunity to re-take the lead and went around him.
Unbeknownst to us, the course doubled back on itself and we were running the opposite direction of the people coming up the trail. We both eased up, Kurt was about 20 feet behind me and we both timidly went down the trail and I called out to see if we were going the right direction. I had no idea. I think we both eased up because neither of us wanted to go too far down a trail in the wrong direction. Suddenly, I saw cones on both sides of trees and realized that the course doubled back on itself.
It was at that point that someone yelled out, “good job, just down the switchbacks and to the finish” and in that instant, both of our efforts went from about a 5 to an 11 on a scale from 1-10. I knew the only chance I had to finish this race in first was to make it to the switchbacks in first place. So I gunned it for the trail. I had a little more traction than Kurt in the corners on the switch backs and pumped them for all I was worth. I think I got a little time on him and at the end when we crossed over a dirt road, I thought I was going to bottom out and fall flat on my face. I just couldn’t get my legs in front of me fast enough!
I barreled into the finish and Kurt was a mere 3 seconds behind me. This was the closest one yet and I can honestly say that I didn’t think I was going to take it. It was a great fun race and I’m glad for the series. It’s a nice way to have a low-key race midweek and hang out with some friends and play in the woods.
I’ve always wanted to win a series race and there seem to be plenty here in the Rochester area for people to choose from. We have the Polar cat’s races, the Freezeroo, the Snow Cheap Series races and I’m sure there are others that I am forgetting too. But the Snow Cheap will be special to me as it was my first series win. :o) Still 2 more races out there, so I hope to see you all on the trails. Cheers and JFT folks.