I just realized that it is almost Friday already and I have yet to post a race report from The Yeti last weekend!!
Here goes, The Yeti consists of two five km loops and once the race started I just tried to keep pace with the lead group. We were into a significant climb within a few hundred meters and not having run on my snowshoes at all this year I completely forgot how damn hard this sport is! My heart rate was jumping way up and I dropped back a bit to pace off with the second group. The lead three runner's were on their own after the initial climb.
This route had a ton of single track running, which is great, except there's nowhere to pass anyone in single track. Take one step to the side and you're swimming in snow! The first lap was significantly harder than the second as we were packing down quite a bit of snow. The course had been boot packed prior to the event, but until the 175 runner's did one full lap, the snow was still a bit loose and really tended to throw you around. I was trying to run with my natural stride length but quickly realized that to step outside of the exact path of the runner in front of you was to waste a ton of energy.
As we were progressing through our first lengthy single track route I glanced over my shoulder to see Justin Mark of the Helly Hansen Snowshoe Team and Todd Nowack, my A.R. partner and good friend just behind me. There we two runner's a few hundred meters ahead as well and I went to work trying to close the gap on them. By the time we cleared this tight section of the course I had managed to latch onto the two runner's in front of me and gap the two behind me. As we bounced out onto a wide Nordic ski trail, myself and one of the runner's I had caught up to, Jason Loutitt, made a move to drop the third runner in our group. As we headed back into a second lengthy single track route Jason was able to out climb me and put some time into me. I was now sitting in a solid 5th place.
From the top of this last climb there was about 1km of open downhill running. With snow flying everywhere I layed into this with all that I had. I managed to close the gap on both Jason and Andrew Clarke who was about 35 seconds ahead of me after the first lap and in third place.
As we crossed through the Start - Finish area, and back onto our initial climb, both Andrew and Jason left me in their...well snow I guess! I had a decent gap on the runner's chasing me and just kept my head down and told myself to keep a solid pace and not look back. I actually ended up spending the entire second half of the race without any other snowshoer's in sight! It was hard to force myself into the pain zone of a 'sprint race' like this, and at one point, as I felt that I was slowing down, I yelled at myself to try and get some adrenaline pumping...yes I am crazy at times!
By the time I hit the extended single track run through the meadows at the top, with a few km still to go, I was confident that I could hold onto my 5th place. However, the team points are a direct reflection of overall time consumed by team members to cover the course. I quickly reminded myself of this and pushed with everything I had in me. I knew that Stefan Jackobson was on team HH and was most likely going to win the event, we had our work cut out for us to limit our losses against such a strong runner!
I pumped my now lactic loaded legs through the last climb and absolutely unleashed on the downhill run to the finish line. I was amazed that I managed to stay upright throughout this section and eventually came across the line in just over 54 minutes.
Andrew Clarke ended up finishing third in 52min, Stefan won in 49min! Todd had a super solid race, especially for his first snowshoe race ever, to finish sixth in 56.5min. Team HH members were seventh and eighth, and Kertis Heidt of NSA was ninth. It was neck and neck and would come down to our female runner's! HH had the first and third women across the line and we had the fourth...now for the math! We did not have access to the exact finish times and would have to wait until the awards ceremony.
"We have the closest finish we've ever had in the team category! Just two seconds separate first and second!"
"The winner's, Team North Shore Athletics!!"
We were pumped to have pulled out a win in our first race as a team...now, fast forward to three days later...the results are posted...and Team Helly Hansen ends up being the actual winner's of the event, by a full twenty seconds!! There was a miscalculation while on the Mtn, and in the end, we had to settle for a second place showing. Not to worry, we get another shot at them in just nine more days on Mt Seymour...GAME ON!!