In a casual post race interview after the Whitaker Woods Snowshoe race, Jim Johnson started rattling off names of some of the faster runners that hadn’t made an appearance. Brandon Newbould was on that list. Maybe he heard it and was compelled to make his presence felt, or perhaps he was planning on running all along. All we know is the end result: Newbould won the Sidehiller Snowshoe Race, beating Jim Johnson of all people. Funny how things work out sometime.
The course was a bit different from years past. Normally there would be a road crossing and then a couple of miles through some trails (and through backyards) before finishing up back at the fairgrounds. There was one key thing missing this year though: snow in the trails across the street. Not enough for the race, certainly, so race director Paul Kirsch had to make due.
What Paul ended up creating was a two loop, four mile course that took the runners through a lot of ‘sugar snow’ (it’s exactly what you think it would be like) that was fairly challenging even minus the big climb on the part that was cut out.
Brandon made a break from the pack on the first loop at short but cruel little hill that was built into a small out-and-back portion. From there on in he was chugging his way through the sugar snow, the driving winds and blowing snow all on his own. Speaking of the weather, have I mentioned that it was brutal? Temps were around 6F, with a windchill that brought it down to the -12F range. People were so bundled up that it lead to a lot of “you were there?”-type conversations via social media afterwards. In fact, Brandon came up to me to say hi after the race, and I froze in a brief moment of panic as I didn’t recognize this guy who clearly knew me. Guess a snowbeard really does make for a great disguise.
Me: “Why were you wearing those tights?”
B: “You weren’t there to prevent me.”
Winners can wear anything, right? Bruce Denton had the spikes that never came in second, and if Brandon keeps winning in these bad boys then who are we to question them? This time around, the tights helped Brandon run a blazing 27:25 through the sugar snow en route to his win. The tights are Level approved. Jim Johnson wasn’t too far back, running a 27:37.
Following the first two were Kevin Tilton (28:11) and Bob Jackman (28:21). Or was it Bob then Kevin? I have a hard time telling them apart in these pictures. Maybe I just have a hard time telling bundled up, bearded men in glasses apart in general.
In the women’s race, Abbey Wood didn’t take control until much later in the race than Brandon had, but still ended up with the same result. Abbey passed Melissa Donais just before the third mile and said, “I was running scared, especially when I realized it was Melissa who was right on my heels!” Closing in 8:15 for the last mile, Abbey wrapped up the win a seven second cushion over Melissa (34:00).
Abbey wasn’t one to complain about the conditions, and thought they “were perfect”. She’s still relatively new to the sport (only one prior race) so expectations were tempered ahead of time. Not bad for a second race!
The top masters on the day were Ethan Nadeau (28:51, acidotic RACING) and Kristina Folcik-Welts (35:02, La Sportiva). Kristina is pretty fast for a 46 yr old, huh? We’re pretty sure that’s a typo in the results.
This race was a qualifier for nationals. Up on the United States Snowshoe Association page you can find the listings of all who qualified, including those from Sidehiller. Nationals will be on March 1st in Bennington, VT. We’ll be there!