Tag: Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race

JJ Finds His Winning Ways Again

beaver brook start

Beaver Brook start, courtesy of SNAPacidotic.

There are spikes in track, but there are much bigger spikes (cleats!) in snowshoe races. There are elbows in track, so then wouldn’t you expect the elbows to be that much bigger in snowshoe races? Perhaps size doesn’t matter (depends on who you ask), and perhaps we wouldn’t even be discussing this had someone not been there to capture the moment. Because someone happened to click the shutter on the camera at the exact moment when Chris Dunn’s elbow slammed into Jim Johnson’s rib cage (possibly knocking his hat sideways), we have to talk about it. It’s out there, and the picture is spectacular.

beaver brook johnson dunn

Dunn throws his weight around, courtesy of SNAPacidotic.

The fact that the race was even held was borderline miraculous. In the days leading up to the race, the course was changed several times in an attempt to find enough snow for the runners to run on. According to Chris Dunn: “I was on the phone with him (race director Michael Amarello) Friday afternoon after he had spent more than seven hours trying to link together enough snow covered trails to make a decent course.”

But then conditions deteriorated even further, causing the course to change yet again after a final walk through that Friday. It was to be a ‘throwback’ race, and use the original (and short and fast) out and back course. This was to be a quick one; 2.5 miles of double track logging road, with the first .4 mile downhill (and subsequent last .4 uphill), all on icy terrain for the most part.

Word of the questionable conditions spread fairly quickly via social media and there’s little doubt that that  may have deterred a few people from making the trek. Despite those disadvantages, there were still over seventy people there lining up to take on this course.

When the gun went off, Johnson found himself behind a few runners. The whole field seemed to be converging on a five foot wide swatch of the best runnable snow, and Jim knew he had to make a move to get clear. With Dunn out to a fast start, Jim threw in a surge to get around him, but Jim paid for the move. Well, maybe not, but it certainly looked like he did. The elbow didn’t really slow Jim down and he was off.

Jim cleared the first mile in 5:42. Make no mistake about it, that is really fast for a snowshoe race. There was just the right combo of a downhill start plus really fast conditions all around. Nacho Hernando, in his first snowshoe race, was right there with Jim. Nacho himself is a formidable opponent on the roads, and Jim was hoping that his experience would ultimately give him the edge for the race.

If I had some deep snow or a good climb, I may have been able to pull away a bit just from the sheer fact that this was his first snowshoe race and maybe my experience would benefit me in that case, but it was so fast that I couldn’t make any sort of decisive moves until possibly on the way back,” said Jim. “My plan was to try to stay ahead of him until the climb up on the way back and then maybe try to grind it out there.”

Jim kept pushing the pace after the turnaround. If there was a point where Nacho could have taken him it would have been on the stretch between the turn around the final climb. It wasn’t the case that day. The climb started, Jim’s lead grew a little more, and he could relax a bit on the way in. Jim closed out the race with a 7:36 last mile up the final climb and ran 14:22 for the 2.5 mile race. Nacho came in shortly after in 14:45.

Behind Jim & Nacho the battle was fierce for third place. Ryan Welts, Dave Dunham and Phil Erwin were all duking it out in a final push that’s probably seen more on the roads than in the snow. At the turn around, Erwin was ahead of Welts and Dunham by ten or so seconds. Dunham hung in back of the two awaiting his moment to strike. “We slowly closed on Phil and on the last 1/2 mile I figured I’d make my “move” on the uphill,” said Dave. “I’ll be damned if Ryan wasn’t thinking the same. He buried me on the climb. With 200 to go he went by Phil and I went by him with 100 to go.” Impressive finish, especially so considering the last climb.

beaver brook dunham snowshoeWhat makes it that much more impressive was the fact that Dave had a severe wardrobe equipment malfunction. “Around 1/2 mile my shoe came untied and I had to flex my toes/arch to stay inside the shoe.” As if that wasn’t bad enough, the poor guy also broke a snowshoe during the race. Yet he still charged up that last climb as fast as Chevy Chase rocketing down a mountain side on a greased up saucer.

Chris finished 6th (16:51) and was all by his lonesome by the end.”The final .4 mile climb was special as the early O2 debt came due,” said Dunn (acidotic Racing).  Fifth place was nearly a minute in from of him and seventh place was almost thirty seconds behind. That’s a tough spot to be in when you’re in oxygen debt.

The women’s race perhaps suffered the most in terms of competition. Whereas the last few races had a solid pack of women up front pushing each other, this one saw Kristina Folcik-Welts pretty much running away with it. Kristina ran an impressive 18:06 and finished 13th overall. That was nearly three and a half minutes up on her nearest competitor; Dangergirl dominated.

“There was no female competition to push me, so I tried to get Chris (Dunn) but he is to fast on the short stuff!” Kristina failed to get Chris again, but she’ll have her next chance this weekend.

As this story is being finished, Mother Nature is answering the call of all the snow dances that have been performed around here lately. So whether you call it “New England clam powder,” “Connecticut confetti” or “New Hampshire Cocaine”, we should have plenty of it in Merrimack, NH for this weekend’s Horeshill Snowshoe Race.

beaver brook acidotic

Team shot of acidotic RACING, courtesy of SNAPacidotic.

It’s Snowshoe Time!

I got my Dion snowshoes in the mail. Actually, I got them back in October but had been too busy coughing and wheezing to get too excited about them. It’s fitting now that I’m getting to posting about them on a snowy day here in Beverly.

Now that I own a pair I guess I’ll actually have to get out and compete in them. Snow and I usually don’t get along but I think that I can make an exception here. By testing out the mountain racing waters over the summer I think I caught that off road bug. Luckily there is no shortage of options in New England to get your snowshoe racing fix.

Speaking of which, we’ll even have the US championships right here in our neck of the woods. That race will be held in Woodford, VT on March 1st.

Two great series to keep an eye out for:

The Granite State Snowshoe Series, sponsored by Dion Snowshoes

The WMAC Dion Snowshoe Racing Series

I guess Dion is a big player in this sport, huh? Dave Dunham and Jessica Northan won the WMAC series, while Jim Johnson and Kristina Folcik won the Granite State series. Impressively, Dave Dunham finished runner up to Johnson in the Granite State series.

dion snowshoes II
You probably recognized most of those names. If you can run on the roads then you can handle the snow. I’m hoping to make my debut at the Beaver Brook race at Hollis, NH on January 11, and will be rocking the Dion 121 racing frames (pictured). Looking forward to gutting that one out!

Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race

Guest blog by Jim Johnson

Photo by SNAPacidotic

Saturday I woke up at 5:30 am and was out the door about an hour later in the ridiculous ice skating rink that was my driveway and local roads heading south out of the valley. It took me a couple minutes to actually get out of my driveway and then I spun out twice within the span of 5 minutes as the roads were a solid sheet of ice. I made my way across the top of Lake Winni and hit 93 S for a ride down to Hollis, NH for a run at Beaver Brook (results), which was the first race in the 2013 Granite State Snowshoe Series presented by acidoticRacing and Snowshoe Magazine. This was to be only my second race since August (as I am sill nursing a bad foot). I’m also not in ideal racing shape yet, but I need these types of efforts to get there.

I was surprised at the amount of decent snow in Hollis. On the way down 93, the snow (north of Concord and even down to near the Manchester area) was VERY thin in spots and my hopes weren’t really high for the snow down in southern NH. When I pulled into Beaver Brook it was apparent that the snow cover was well preserved on the trails and they were nicely packed and relatively fast. I warmed up with Melissa Donais over the first mile or so of the course and then back. I tried to stay loose and stretch out the leg and foot before the race as best I could. I was really nervous and not sure what to expect.

As the race started I had to cut across to the one packed line that had been cut up the first field section of the course. It was one person wide and Steve Dowsett (Whirlaway) had lined up right in front of it, so I let him take it out up the first 100 yards or so before the course turns sharply onto the groomed xc ski trails. As we took the turn onto the ski trail section, I pulled out next to Steve and went right around him.  My thought process was that I needed to just run my race early and whatever happens happens. I needed to just try to go out like normal for the first mile or so. If my fitness or foot fails me, so be it. But if I just sat and didn’t make any moves, I’d regret it later.

Photo by SNAPacidotic

I continued to push up onto the single track section which winds up and down and around sharp corners for the first mile or so of the course before following along the shore of Beaver Brook. It was in this section that I started to look back and no longer could see Steve in my rearview. Steve had won Turner Trail last weekend and was not too far back of the infamous Josh Ferenc at Prospect Mountain. So he’s been out pretty good on snowshoes this season already and I’ve got 12 years on him almost…so I was pretty nervous. When I got a pretty good lead through a mile +, I started to think I could maybe hang on and win this thing.

Photo by SNAPacidotic

After following Beaver Brook for a while, the single track dumps out onto a wide xc ski trail and I really started to feel a little tired over that section but was continuing to build a lead to my surprise. Eventually that stretch hooks right and goes up a nice hill that is probably the biggest hill on the course. It’s not really too bad, but it’s right in the middle of the race and is enough to really interrupt any sort of groove you have. At the top of that climb, it cuts up into single track again for most of the last mile +.

The single track section goes up and down and is very windy in this section with 2 more decent uphill climbs and eventually it comes back out to the field where you started from. Mike Amarello (the RD) said they lengthened the course this year by about a tenth of a mile or so. Looking at my time, I was a couple minutes slower than 2 years ago when we last ran this course (Beaver Brook was cancelled last year due to no snow). This is the longest BB course so far. I’d say w/ the added section and the snow being a little worse than the thin ice cover we ran on 2 years ago (this year it was pretty wet and sloggy in spots), my time wasn’t too bad considering. I finished up and felt pretty decent foot-wise. I was more concerned during the race with my fitness and cardio, but held up fairly well.

I cooled down with Steve and Carolyn Stocker (who was 7th overall and first woman) over the last part of the course and some of the xc ski trails before calling it a day. I didn’t want to do too much w/ my foot not being 100% and w/ the race out of the way.

Top 10 Overall

Place Time Pace Name Team Age City/State
1 22:35 6:57 Jim Johnson        BOSTON ATHLETIC ASSN  35 Madison NH  
2 24:42 7:36 Steve Dowsett 24 Newburyport MA
3 25:01 7:42 Ryan Welts ACIDOTIC RACING 32 Northwood NH
4 25:02 7:43 David Cretsinger ACIDOTIC RACING 41 Wilton NH
5 26:00 8:00 Chris Dunn ACIDOTIC RACING 44 Strafford NH
6 26:07 8:03 Ryan Proulx 33 Portsmouth NH
7 26:40 8:13 Carolyn Stocker WMAC-DION 20 Westfield MA
8 26:51 8:16 Kristina Folcik ACIDOTIC RACING 35 Northwood NH
9 26:52 8:16 Jeffrey Litchfield ACIDOTIC RACING 52 Hopkinton NH
10 27:03 8:20 Cort Cramer 35 Maynard MA

98 Total Finishers.

As a special treat, we have this video for you of the race shot by Tim Lindsey.

This story was originally published on Jim Johnson’s blog. Check back there often to follow along on his adventures.

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