Interview with Kristina Folcik-Welts after she clinched her 2014 Granite State Snowshoe Series title with a win at the season-ending Granite State Championship. Kristina ran a 1:01:52 and finished 16th overall. Coming into the race, Kristina had a pretty good lead in the standings. During the race there was a sizable gap between her and second place Kyla Brustin, so it was up to her to choose her own level of punishment as she came to the climbs later in the race. Push on and compete with the men around her, or coast it in a bit and enjoy the last few minutes of snowshoe racing for the season?
Tag: Kristina Folcik
Covered (and competed) at the Granite State Snowshoe Championships today. Race coverage coming soon. Jim Johnson (48:28) and Kristina Folcik-Welts (61:52) were the winners in the race, which was a 10k for those scoring at home. In case you missed it, here’s some instant stuff we published “live” via Instagram during the awards…
And why not leave you with this, the parking lot Old Man On The Mountain…
Amber Ferreira decimated the field at the Dion US Snowshoe Championships. It’s hard to put it into words really. How about: Amber cut through the hilly, snow covered trails like an arctic wolf chugging red bull and riding a snowmobile. Amber really was a like a howling wolf riding a snowmobile and just ran away with the title.
For Amber, who is a professional triathlete, it was her second snowshoe title. The last time she won she ended up second at world. From the way she dominated on Saturday it looks like she ready to take on the world this next go around (which unfortunately won’t happen until 2015.
Amber wasn’t the only New Englander to taste success; she was joined on the podium by Kristina Folcik-Welts (2nd, 53:51) and Ashley Krause (3rd, 54:44). All three were named to Team USA for landing on the podium. Joining them are Sarah Gall of Cedar Falls, IA (4th, 54:57) and Abbey Wood (5th, 55:01). Abbey hails from Laconia, NH, which makes 4 out of 5 for New Englanders on the national team.
More to come on this.
Kristina Folcik-Welts finished second overall in her first ever US Snowshoe Championships race. Kristina covered the 10k course in 53:51. “Holy crap…she’s fast,” said Kristina of champion Amber Cullen Ferreira. That about sums it up. Here’s our interview with Kristina after she ran a heck of a race herself.
The Exeter Snowshoe Hullabaloo was held last Saturday in Exeter, NH. Besides being a snowshoe race with a fantastic name, it served as the final tune up for snowshoers in the area before this Saturday’s national championships in Vermont.
The Hullabaloo was tightly contested, especially for a snowshoe race. Ryan Kelly earned the win with a 33:22 and Ryan Welts was a mere seven seconds behind him. Only seven seconds behind Welts was the ageless wonder Dave Dunham. Kristina Folcik-Welts was the top woman on the day and fifth overall in 35:45. It was yet another strong showing by the Dangergirl.
For more about the race, we defer to Mr. Dunham (double-d Mountain Runner), who not only competes, then runs back out and gets pics (you got Dunham’d!), and finally caps it all off with a solid blog recap:
Exeter snowshoe hullabaloo – My final snowshoe race leading up to the nationals was the penultimate Granite State series race this weekend. I’ve never run in a “hullabaloo” so this looked very interesting to me.
I got to the race early, with the late start (11am) I got in a run earlier in the day to help loosen up, and headed out for my normal 3 mile warm-up. It was already about 50 degrees and warming. The snow was going to be very soft. I changed into race gear and headed out for a mile on the course in snowshoes. This was going to be interesting! The course was a big figure 8 with a ton of up/down and turns. Basically you never went more than 100m without a change in direction and/or a climb/descent. It was also entirely single-track and the snow was soft and getting softer.
It truly was a hullabaloo at the start as 80+ anxious runners took off down the single-track. I got out cleanly in 2nd place as Ryan Kelly stormed off. The fifth runner of the line got his shoe stepped on and went down blocking the trail and nearly getting trampled to death. I heard a lot of yelling during the first half mile, I guess it was people calling out “on your left” as they attempted to pass and sort things out. It is considered good sportsmanship to yield the trail to a faster runner. I heard after the race that this did not happen and especially the top woman runner was impeded. Sad to hear that.
Anyway, I was out clean and working hard to keep Kelly in sight. I had Ryan Welts and Chad Carr right behind me keeping me honest. The effort felt very hard, mostly the footing was very poor and you’d slip/slide or punch through a lot. That can be exhausting. I looked at my watch at 16 minutes in and thought “probably half-way done”. Right around the same time we did a section of the course with a big looping turn and I could see Kelly out in front but only about 25 seconds ahead. Within another minute or so Ryan Welts made his move and flew by me on a downhill. I was happy to have him lead for a bit and I settled in trying to place my snowshoes wherever he got good footing.
At 22 minutes I snuck a peek at my watch again. I was getting tired! We turned the corner onto the pipeline trail and with the long straight-away we could see Kelly not that far ahead. Chad Carr made his move and flew by me and Welts. He looked like a man on a mission. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on where you were in the pack, that was about the point where the snow was the deepest and least tracked. Kelly and Carr were doing a ton of work stomping through the deep and very heavy snow. It wasn’t easy back in fourth place but it was slightly better than being in the lead.
We continued to close on Kelly and with ½ mile to go Welts and I both made a move to go by Carr who graciously allowed us by. The last climb over “Camels Hump” was difficult and I egged on Ryan with a shout of “come on we’ve got him”. We got to within a couple of seconds of the lead when we hit 400 to go and the first really packed out section of the course. Kelly took off, Welts said something like “damn tri-athletes” and he took off as well. I was already all-out and was left flat footed. Kelly took the win in 33:32 with Welts 7 seconds back and me another 7 seconds back. Chad Carr rolled in 25 seconds later and a fast finishing Kristina Folcik took 5thplace overall (despite the aforementioned tangle with some less than gentlemanly runners).
Another great event put on by the Acidotic Racing crew on a perfect late winter day.
The Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race was held on Saturday night in Madbury, NH. The race was supposed to be under the moonlight, but the clouds rolled in and dumped some more snow on the region. No worries here since snow is a key ingredient in a snowshoe race. Nacho Hernando won yet another one, this time covering the 4.5 mi course in 33:32. Dangergirl Kristina Folcik-Welts regained her winning form and took the women’s title in 41:13. Kristina was also 13th overall in the field of 105 runners.
Nacho didn’t run away with this one. He narrowly beat Jim Johnson, who ran a 33:45. This is the race from JJ’s perspective. Included in Jim’s original blog post was a cool shot from Scott Mason Photo (check out the rest of his work from that race) and a video of the start from SNAPacidotic. Here is Jim’s story:
February 15 (Saturday) - 15 miles total. 6 miles in the a.m. from the East Madison, NH field office of the USATF Mountain Team (Paul Kirsch’s house). Ran w/ Paul, Sarah Hernandez, and Leslie Beckwith. Easy jaunt to test out the calf on the snowmobile trails before the race in Madbury later in the day. Got a workout in, trying to push Leslie’s useless-as-sh*t-in-the-snow car out of Paul’s driveway (which was plowed, yet her car still wouldn’t move).
Then headed down later on (in the beginnings of snowstorm) to the Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race in Madbury, NH. The roads were super slick by the time I got off 16 in Dover. Met up with Steve Dowsett at the town hall in Madbury for a 2.5 mile warmup on the dark, snowy roads. Two miles on the roads and then got back and threw on the snowshoes for another half mile of warming up before the start. I knew it was going to be a good race with a surging Bob Jackman, Steve, Jim Pawlicki, and Nacho Hernando in attendance. I was just hoping my calf stayed with me during this one. The last time I had pushed off with any sort of power was on Thursday and it was right when the massive cramp bit me at the end of that run. That was still very fresh in my mind. The course was lengthened by almost a mile and a half (to 4.5 miles exactly) this year and the conditions were great. Lots of snow and a good mix of single track and trampled down double track + the same climbing and single track switchbacks that have been part of this race in the past. The field section in the middle was far longer and probably the highlight of the race. Couple all that with the usual excitement and uniqueness of racing in the woods in the pitch dark (and in a snowstorm) and it was really building up to be an awesome event.
Chris Dunn gave the word and we were off with yours truly in the front again for the early stages. It didn’t take long (about 2 minutes) for my calf to twinge at almost the same intensity I had on Thursday. If it wasn’t a race, I would have stopped dead in my tracks and that would have been it. But I pushed on and it came back every minute or so. I actually found myself yelling out load a couple times right before the first mile when it would pop on me and it was really intense. Nacho actually asked me if I was ok when he heard me yell the last time. He was right on my heels. It made me have to back down a bit and all I became focused on was my calf and having to possibly drop out. Right after the first mile of twisty, turning (and SNOWY) single track, Nacho moved on around me in the same type of signature definitive move I am becoming accustomed to (unfortunately). He moved on ahead and pushed on up and down through some awesome narrow single track in the woods. There was a ton of snow pushing the pine branches down onto the track, making you have to constantly duck underneath and brush up against some, getting you soaked each time. One of the times my headlamp almost came off and pushed up way high on my head. I immediately couldn’t see and got nervous for a second that it had come open and I would lose the batteries. After fiddling with the strap and adjusting myself quickly, I pushed on, trying to keep Nacho in sight the whole time. The race is so cool because no matter how far ahead or back people are, it is so dark in the woods with absolutely zero external light from any other source, that you can see the other racer’s headlamp light a lot of the way. Before dumping out onto the field, I started to notice that we had enough distance up on the rest of the pack, that I could no longer see headlamps behind me. I think last year, I never lost sight of Bob’s light. This year, I think we were running pretty well as we lost the pack quite early.
As we hit the field section, I would seem to catch back up to Nacho just a little and make some good progress. But then as quick as I thought he might be tiring and I might catch up, I would seemingly fall back again. After about 7 or 8 minutes of no calf issues, I got whacked again with a massive cramp during the middle of the field. It was all I was really thinking about at that point. Just trying to finish now. The field is great because you can look across after all the meandering back and forth in the single track that had been blazed already, and see the other racers lights all in a row. You couldn’t make out much of anything else. It really is something very unique in racing (especially in snowshoe racing). By seeing the lights now all bobbing around on the field, you can start to judge approximately how far back they are. I continued to follow Nacho’s lead as he navigated the twists and turns of the single track across the field (making my job easier). There hardly needed to be any flags (which were hard enough to see in the dark anyways) in this section because the only way you could really go was in the single track path that was trampled down. If you wandered from that track, you were probably going to be in knee deep snow. I got to also see Steve Dowsett in 3rd and how close he was (and whoever was behind him at that point). The only reason I could tell it was Steve back in third was because of his headlamp having a red light in the back. You couldn’t make out who was who, but he was the only one I knew that had that red light on. It was kind of like a target for whoever was behind him. I would have turned that off for sure .
We exited the field finally after a great section of the race course, and hit double track ski trail for a good while. Nacho appeared to have me by quite a bit here but I could still see his light illuminating the snow and trail up ahead. Pretty soon we were back on a familiar section of the climb back up to the final hill. I seemed to make up a little ground here, but still had to put up with the occasional calf cramp that just made me want to continue the status quo and finish the race in at least second (and hold off the rest of the talented field). The switchback climb came and it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I remembered. The climb actually didn’t bother my calf as much as the faster, flatter sections. I hit the top of the climb finally, and even though I could see Nacho’s headlamp on some of the switchback sections, he still seemed to have a lot of ground on me. When I hit the very top, I ran by a couple of people who were cheering us on (but you couldn’t see anyone it was still so dark). One of them said to me that Nacho had about 20 something seconds on me. It seemed like Nacho was further up on me than that, but I was thinking the climb hurt him a bit so I actually started to push despite the calf looming. The descent at first is a cruel joke because you start climbing back up after just a short push down. You end up coming back up the other side of the hill in the other direction and it really kicks you in the butt if you are new to the course (because you are expecting to drop down and lose all the elevation at that point). I was familiar with this and knew I had to climb again. I pushed up the climb and noticed Nacho pretty close on one of the first switchbacks down. I think at that point I had cut his lead in half in just that short amount of time. He noticed me for sure and I figured I was less than 10 second back almost out of nowhere. I thought at that point he was hurting and I may actually get him. For the entire way down, I was expecting to roll up on him and replay the finish from the only other time I lost this race… But being the tough competitor that he is, he pushed down the last tricky and narrow descent to the flat section of course near the end (where I was unable to get around Kevin a couple years ago). I hit that section and saw him now just a bit too far ahead to catch. I took the last turn and went up on my toes one last time to push to the line and my calf cramped up 100% almost knocking me to a halt (but within sight of the finish clock). I stiff legged it in and finished 13 seconds behind Nacho for what I am considering a great run despite my calf issues.
I really was happy with my race. I think my speed is obviously lacking right now due to zero workouts, but my actually cardio is starting to come around. The more I race, the more my legs will start to come around as well. Nacho seemed gassed and just glad to have won. He actually had apparently eaten only 1 hour before the race so his stomach was upset. I felt great but had my leg to deal with. It felt immediately fine after I finished and felt fine on the 2 mile (slow) cooldown w/ Dowsett, Pawlicki, and Jackman who all finished 3-4-5 respectfully. The more I talk to Nacho the more I realize how cool of a guy he is and he’s a graceful winner for sure. He’s really coming around w/ the snowshoeing now and I think he’s going to have a great Nationals for sure. He seems pretty excited about it. I just hope to be able to stay close to him in any other races this season. If I do, I know I’ll run pretty well.
The Garmin Data:
Top 10 Overall (CMS in blue):
|1||Nacho Hernando||20||Concord||NH||33:32||7:27||Sweties Pies|
|5||Robert Jackman||31||Warwick||RI||36:19||8:05||Tuesday Night Turtles|
|6||Phil Erwin||46||Wading River||NY||37:34||8:21||acidotic RACING|
|7||Marek Telus||38||Hopkinton||NH||38:24||8:32||acidotic RACING|
|8||Quinn Parker||20||Hampton||NH||38:37||8:35||Sweetie Pies|
|9||Scott Mitchell||44||New Durham||NH||39:37||8:49||acidotic RACING|
|10||Jason Massa||46||Concord||NH||39:46||8:51||acidotic RACING|
105 Total Finishers.
The ride home was horrendous. It took me over 2 hours and I don’t think I ever went over 40mph even on 16N. The roads were not plowed and there was just a single set of tire tracks that everyone was using. There was one car deep off the road and I only saw 1 plow for about 1 exit before it got back off the highway.
Cool video of the start of the race:
Watch out: the Sweetie Pies are making a move in the Granite State Snowshoe Series. In the latest race, the Horse Hill (or is it Horsehill?) 7k Snowshoe Race, top Sweetie Pie Nacho Hernando broke the tape in 33:03. The rookie bested snowshoe vets Brandon Newbould and Jim Johnson on the way to winning in only his second ever snowshoe race.
Not only did Nacho beat the competition, but he beat the course just the same. Brandon Newbould looked to be running away with the race but had trouble navigating a couple of tricky intersections. On two occasions Brandon had to stop to get his bearings and each stop allowed Nacho and Jim to catch up to him. After the first stop Brandon was able to surge ahead and regain some separation, but the second stop proved to be too much to overcome.
Newbould wasn’t the only casualty claimed by the course that day. Also falling victim to the course was Kristina Folcik-Welts’ bid for a win (wrong turn) and EJN’s dignity (fell on multiple occasions). In this instance there were several big intersections that were marked up with flags and arrows, but in the heat of the moment during a tightly contested race it can be easy to misread an arrow in the previously trampled snow.
After just barely enough time to get some space and get into a groove, the race goes up the steepest climb of the day and that set the tone for the rest of the course. Trudging up that hill in the deep snow, you know it’s a real old fashioned snow show race and that it’s not going to be like the track session that was Whittaker Woods or Beaver Brook. Heck, Sidehiller was a faster course and that wasn’t even a fast course with all the sugar snow out in the fields.
The first mile and last mile were the same, which meant that the runners would be flying down the same steep slope that they climbed up going out. But the middle two miles were packed with a twisting, turning single track that must’ve had an elevation chart that looked quite roller coaster like.
It was out in that single track loop where the field thinned out fairly quickly. There were many times where you could see competitors running back in the opposite direction on another part of the trail but with all the twists and turns it made it difficult at times to tell how much further ahead they were.
Whereas Newbould had nobody in front of him when he came to those crucial intersections, Kristina knew there were people in front of her but wasn’t exactly clear as to how far ahead they were. Not knowing exactly where to go, Kristina saw some runners off in the distance and took off after them only to find out later that it was the wrong direction. The wrong turn caused Kristina to add on some more distance and ultimately lose the lead.
This opened the door for Melissa Donais to get her first series win of the season. Melissa ran a 46:11 and came in 25th overall. Looking back at Nacho’s winning time of 33:03 and things get put in perspective a little better. With over thirteen minutes between 1st and 25th it’s easy to see just how strung out the field was in this race. Kyla Brustin came in shortly after as the runner up to Melissa (30th overall, 47:18) and then amazingly Kristina still managed to get third (37th overall, 49:18).
For the masters runners, Dave Dunham was the top finisher (surprise surprise) with his 9th place, 36:04 effort. For the ladies it was Molly McHugh who ran a 52:34 for 43rd overall and was the fifth woman on the day.
With his third place finish at Horse Hill, Jim Johnson extended his lead in the series. Both Newbould and Hernando haven’t run enough of the races so far this year to qualify for the standings just yet but if they keep this up then Jim will have his work cut out for him. Even with the wrong turn, Kristina maintained her perch as the highest ranking woman in the standings and is seventh overall.
Next up is the Kingman Farm Moonlight Race in Madbury, NH on Saturday, February 15th.
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.
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.
What 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.
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!
The Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble hosted its largest field ever on Saturday. This was especially impressive because for some, including myself, the status of the race was in doubt due to rain that hit the week of the race. I was so concerned with reports I had heard that I had to contact race director Kevin Tilton to see what the deal was. When I told him that I had heard there was no snow up there, his reply of “Erroneous!” was enough to convince me to still make the trip.
Maybe what was on the ground wasn’t quite snow, but the ice and “crunchy snow” (as heard in the video below) mix made for a very fast whip through Whitaker Woods. Some tweaks to the course were needed so it ended up being about 3.5 miles instead of the usual 4.
I bent down to double knot a shoelace, which was exactly when Kevin started the race. Even while tentatively making my way out in the pack, I could see Nick and Jim Johnson shoot out to the front. “It was pretty much Jim and I from the start and we stayed together for the first mile,” said Nick. It was after that mile where Nick started to separate himself from the three-time defending Whitaker Woods champion.
Nick ended up running a 22:04, which was comfortably ahead of Jim’s 23:16. “I’m telling you that was the worst beating I’ve had in a snowshoe race probably except for Nationals,” said Jim. It’s not to say the Jim didn’t have a great time despite suffering his first ever loss in this race, but in the end it was only “as fun as a beating could possibly be.”
Kristina Folcik-Welts ran a 28:07 in securing her win, and she was about as dominate as Nick was. Kristina had a 46 second lead over runner up Melissa Donais (28:53). The battle in the women’s race, like the one in the men’s, broke open just after a mile. I witnessed it…well, part of it.
The course crested a hill and brought the runners to a point with a spectacular view of Mt Washington off in the distance before the icy turn onto some treacherous single track. You wouldn’t have thought it was that treacherous by the way Kristina (aka Dangergirl) attacked it. Kristina took off down that path like Wile E Coyote on crack, with an Acme rocket booster on his back that may or may not have had some Iranian nuclear “energy” funding behind it. It was sick. In the blink of an eye she was out of site.
Melissa had a bit of lead going into that stretch but Kristina has a knack for those icy single tracks. One runner’s weakness is another runner’s strength, and even early in the race it turned into the big break. ”She (Kristina) knows I slow down on the single track, especially when it’s downhill because I am so clumsy and I’m so scared that I’m going to fall and break a leg,” said Melissa.
The section contained at least one turn that was so tight it brought runners a bit off the course when trying to make it. Yet somehow Kristina was able to cruise through it and take over. “It was actually on that section I could hear her and I’m like ‘Oh no she’s going to pass me!’ and sure enough she did, right on the downhill,” recalled Melissa. Surprisingly tactics like that aren’t why Kristina is known as Dangergirl. It’s mainly because she falls all the time, according to the Dangergirl herself.
I was cruising along in the second mile and feeling good about my own race when I heard “come on, you’re the third woman!”. I turned to clarify that I was in fact a man, when I noticed Leslie Beckwith breathing down my neck. Try as I might, I didn’t have it in me that day to withstand that barrage that was Leslie on snowshoes. Leslie ended up being the third women, running a 29:15. I locked in on her and came in just after her in 29:24.
The top masters runner of the day was Dave Dunham who impressively came in third overall with his 24:59. For the effort Dave won himself a container of Tilton-made baked goods. You have to be present to win, Dave! I helped myself to the spoils of his triumph and damn, they were good. Definitely worth sticking around for.
For the ladies, the top masters runner was Robin AllenBurke of Acidotic who ran a 35:34 and placed 36th overall.
My goal for next time: don’t finish so far behind Dunham where he has time to come back and get a picture of me in the race. Now, don’t get me wrong. I know Dave does it with the best of intentions and he’s incredibly supportive in doing so. However, there’s a part of me that thinks that it’s an epic form of trash talking. It’s right up there with all of the epic trash talking in movies (American Flyers comes to mind) only it can be done without saying much if anything at all. If your rival comes up to you after a race and says “Hey I got a nice shot of you finishing” then what can you say? Well, not much besides damn. If I were to make a sports movie, I’d have to include that in there. Someone would get Dunham’d. Hopefully it’s not me next time, but I probably didn’t help my cause by eating his cookies. Damn.
Photos courtesy of Joe Viger Photography, except for the last shot of me. That was by Dave Dunham.