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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Leg Speed Proves Key at the USSSA Snowshoeing Nationals in Frisco, CO

While snowshoe races generally award aerobic fitness, hill climbing, and quick descending, the course at this year's United States Snowshoeing Association National Championship mixed things up with a flat romp around a field at Summit High School. 

The championship event drew strong fields for men, women, and juniors, and many racers from outside Colorado participated.  The juniors, aged 20 and under, kicked things off with a 5k, and I was proud to watch stellar finishes from EHS runners Sam Sahli and Jackson Sayler, who both did the Cougars proud!  Mitch Kasyon, a freshman at CU-Boulder, won the junior race in convincing fashion.  The USSSA deserves recognition for attracting so many young athletes to the great sport of snowshoeing, and it was great to see them in action!

In the women's race, Sara Tarkington crushed the course for a wire-to-wire win.  Josiah Middaugh (surprise) won the men's race, with my CU-Boulder teammate Jared Scott kicking in strong for second.  I ran in fifth for almost the entire race, hoping for some significant climbing, descending, and singletrack that I knew would never come.  There was one rise on the course, "Heartbreak Hill," which turned out to be aptly named for me when I realized it presented less vertical gain than my driveway at home.

All in all, I was happy to make the final spot on the National Snowshoeing Team with a top-five finish.  Evergreen resident and occasional training partner Brandy Erholtz finished fourth in the women's race, and Lindsay Krause was sixth.

Hats off to the competitors, organizers, and volunteers at the event!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2012 Winter Teva Mountain Games

Ten years ago, according to Vail Valley Foundation VP of Sales Michael Imhof, the inaugural Summer Teva Mountain Games hosted a total of 50 athletes in a few competitions.  Over the past decade, the summer event has become a main course in any adventure athlete's diet, now featuring well over 2,000 competitors each year.  As of this weekend, a winter version provides an attractive side dish that's sure to grow in volume and variety.

My flavor for the weekend was a combination of 10k snowshoe on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and the "Uphill" on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. 

After watching friends crank through a snowbike criterium just beforehand, energy was high at the snowshoe starting line.  Just before the gun, I discovered the presence of Jared Scott, an old teammate from the CU track and cross country teams.  I knew Jared would be tough, and so would Josiah Middaugh and a number of other talented runners.

The pace was fast from the start, and I struggled early on, running in 5th for a significant period.  As the course climbed higher, I found my rhythm and moved gradually into 2nd place.  Cresting the climb, I headed downhill with Scott Gall close behind.  Josiah was in sight, and we slowly gained on him, but he had it won at that point.

Cruising back into town, Gall and I battled with all we had.  Coming into the line, he unleashed a ferocious kick that left me scrambling, and I finished third by a few seconds.

After a quick refuel and attempt at sleep, we again found ourselves at the starting line, this time ready to ascent 2400' up Vail Mountain in just over two miles.  The uphill marked the final event of the Ultimate Mountain Challenge (nordic ski, ski mountaineering, and uphill), and the field was packed!

Josiah showed no signs of wear from the night before, and he took a second victory.  Not bad!

I, on the other hand, felt slow and powerless, struggling to finish in approximately tenth. 

The Winter Teva Games has made its point, and I look forward to competing in this event in years to come!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Goal: Go Fast Uphill at the Teva Mountain Games...

Big gear choice for the uphill on Sunday morning.  Which will you choose?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A White Colorado for the Snowshoeing State Championship

Bruce Kelly and the Pedal Power Bike crew always put on great races, and this year's Colorado Snowshoeing State Championship was no exception!  Over a foot of fresh powder graced the course, and conditions made for a true snowshoer's race.  Those with smaller snowshoes and little experience suffered in the technical conditions.  I was happy to take the cake, and a good friend, Sara Tarkington, won the women's race.

A week later, snow pounded Evergreen!  We have enjoyed over three feet of perfect Colorado wonder.