Race Report – Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble

 

Beautiful groomed XC Ski/snowshoe trails at Whitaker Woods, North Conway NH

We are back from a wonderful week in North Conway, New Hampshire, one of my most favorite places.  It was a week full of snow sports and playing outside (some xc ski and hiking reviews to come), capped off by trying out my first snowshoe race, which was GREAT!!!

Trying something new for the first time is an amazing experience…. A blank slate, and no real expectations other than to do your best and enjoy (not that that isn’t my goal with everything, but it is different when it’s a brand new event… you only get that once!)  

It just so happened that the Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble 4 mile snowshoe race was taking place the Saturday of our vacation, right across the street from our hotel.  How could I pass that up?  Especially with my shiny new Christmas present, my  Dion 121 running snowshoes! (once I get some more wear on them, I’ll do a review… so far, so good!) So, on Saturday morning I tromped across the street with my snowshoe backpack full of my gear (ok, after tromping down the street for coffee and a bagel first), and hit the trails!  My friend Gary (who also has a love for all things running, snowy, and New Hampshire and let me know about the race) was there too, so I had a buddy to enjoy the race experience with, and met some great new people there too.  Trail running (and its winter sister, snowshoe running) always has a great community feeling at events. Everyone (well, most everyone anyway)  is having fun and happy to be there.

Strapping into the Dions
Love!!!  Dion 121’s, quick fit bindings and standard cleat

 

Heading out for a warmup loop

  

Game face at the start 😉

 

Pre-race prep on the starting line

I had NO idea what to expect from this, other than it was probably going to be freakin’ hard!!  This was my 3rd time ever running in snowshoes (once in fresh powder through singletrack in the woods after a rare CT snowstorm, and once 2 days before the race to scope out the trails at Whitaker and do a little run to loosen up).  I was very excited to try this out though, and after a week full of 3 hour days of xc skiing, hiking, and snowboarding my goal was to run as hard as my tired legs could and have a good time doing it. It was fun to still be all wrapped up in the “newness” of the event, and no nerves involved 🙂   Running in snowshoes is tough stuff, you work really hard to maintain a pace that is easy on “regular feet”.  The race was on groomed trails with an extra 1-2 inches of fresh powder in some sections, which made for great (and fast, for the speedy people) conditions.  

 

Literally eating people’s dust (powder?) at the start

 The race was part of the Granite State Snowshoe Series, and was very well organized and fun!!.  Kudos to race director Kevin Tilton for  putting on a great event!!  The course was super fun, very well marked with great trail conditions.  The majority was on wide, groomed XC ski trails.  There were a few hills in the beginning, nothing too steep or crazy (but definitely challenging to run up in snowshoes!)   I definitely felt the positive effects of my strength training out there. There were lots of nice long gradual descents, and the conditions with the fresh snow were just beautiful  There was a great singletrack section through a pine forest that wound (downhill, thankfully) back toward the wider trails and the finish.  The last mile or so was pretty flat.  I think if I knew what the course layout was a bit more (i.e. hilliness, terrain…), I might have tried to push it a little more earlier on… but I always think I could have done more, done better. That’s part of why we do this, right??  No matter what my “goal” was beforehand, I’ll always be analyzing to see what I could have done better.

Cruising toward the home stretch

 

Are we there yet??

Overall, I was very happy with my results and effort.  I actually managed to come in 5th place for the women!  Considering the first 3 were amazing runners and this was my very first try at this, I’m pretty happy with that.  Hopefully I’ll be able to try some more races out this season and improve!  I met some great new people  and had a blast.  

One other very cool thing about these races is that you don’t need to own a pair of running snowshoes to participate.  Dion snowshoes (great local company out of Vermont) brings a bunch of pairs for people to rent that day, for $5.  Great way to get involved and try out a new sport without a big money commitment up front.  I am absolutely LOVING my Dions so far, they are nice and light and very fun to run in. It was also cool to see a very strong showing from the local running group, Acidotic Racing.  They put on some great events as well, and are very involved in all things trail running, snowshoe racing, and other outdoor pursuits in the Northeast.  









I hope everyone is having a great start to their year. Get out and have some fun!  

And of course…. congrats and great job on an awesome race and a big thanks to Gary for giving me the info on this great event, and of course to my husband and photographer extraordinaire Anthony for standing in the snow to cheer us on and take pictures 🙂

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