Save the date!!! When I found out the snowshoe was going to be on the 2nd, I had to scrap my plans of combining a long run with a marathon. The Srichinmoy Marathon is usually on the weekend after the March 8th holiday and held on snowpacked trails . For some reason, it was held much earlier than usual this yr on the 2nd. I'm just a bit tired of carrying the darn kitchen sink with me on my long runs and was going to do this marathon as a long training run for the sake of being able to put my drinks on a table I'd pass on each of the 2k or so loops on their course. I did a 40k training run on the snowpack the weekend before the snowshoe and as usual with the Camelbak, inside jacket pockets crammed with gels, skirt pockets crammed with candy,etc...The eats are not too much a nuisance to carry, but the Camelbak, when full, adds 3 KG! Carrying all the time does get old. Ah well, looks like the next 40-45k run will be the weekend after the snowshoe and with the kitchen sink in tow as there was no way I was going to miss the snowshoe!
This is my third year at this race and this year the course was the same as in 2012. I really like the course in Romashkovo. This is also where I ran the 8k XC race in January. The snowshoe course is 3k of narrow singletrack that has lots of hairpin turns and ups and downs. The next 6k or so is on the hills, but if you go out easy, you can work this section to pull ahead. The final 3k is back on more singletrack. I really like this course because it's not too easy and boring, but not too technical and hard either. It's hilly, so you don't get to be lazy either! Plus, the organizers do a great job with this and the number of participants has grown since
A few days before the race, I checked to see who was racing and saw that Irina Safronova was back. She won in 2011 and kicked my ass by about 4 min! She's a world class mountain climber and can definitely snowshoe. I last saw her at the half in 2012 in Zvezdniy Gorodok where I was 3rd in 1:26. She was 4th and about 6 min behind, but just because I might have faster road times means nothing on the trails. Back in the day in Fairbanks, I could often beat the ladies on the road who could catch me on a tough trail race. So, my thoughts were....sh!t maybe I should have postponed that 40k long run and waited til after the snowshoe. No, I couldn't because I need to keep my training cycle consistent for the 100k Euros next month. My midweek speed session after the 40k was lighter than usual just doing a dozen 400s and 200s to keep my speed from tanking and I wasn't burning down the barn either- just did the 400s in 83 on average and the 200s 39-40 -yeah speed was a bit dull doing this only a couple days after a long run. I can digest up to 30-35k and it has little impact on my speed in the few days after, but 40-50k training runs can dull it for a few days. Yeah I had better go into the snowshoe on semi rested legs so I capped myfinal easy days in the 18-20k range. On the day before, we finally got FRESH snow and I did a 10k training run in my snowshoes to make sure my Nike lunaracers stayed in the bindings ok as they were the lightest option for shoes to wear and when the flywire gets wet, it doesn't get heavy. Having the lightest racing kit possible would be important.
So, the morning of the race it was still snowing!YEA fresh snow good, but for driving BAD. I rode out with a couple friends and their little girl and we got stuck in slow winter traffic and arrived about 40 min before the start! CRAPTASTIC I'm not going to get in a warmup- not cool. Well, it turned out lots of people also got stuck in the same nasty traffic and the RD was nice enough to postpone the start another 15 -20 min so people could warm up! I quickly headed out for a warmup. It was -10C this yr-colder than in previous years so I went with a lightweight top on the bottom and midweight on top. The forest was so pretty after a fresh snowfall. As in previous years, there were two divisions, sport and trekking. Sport is the 12k competitive division that attracts more of the professional types. The short course is a 7k for the trekkers. Local TV news caught be for a quick interview before the start. They asked me about my snowshoeing experience in Alaska and what types of shoes people use. I said for most races people have racing snowshoes similar to mine and of legal length and width for competition (no kiddie sized snowshoes allowed in championship races). Then we have the Arctic Winter Games where you are only allowed to use the old school Native wooden ones.
Off to the start. As we were lining up the RD announced that the men's and women's winners get a trip to Sweden for the snowshoe World Champs next yr! Seriously?! That's the first I knew of that. Translation: I'm going to have to really bust my ass today! That would be so cool to win that! MOTIVATION! And off we were. I tucked in behind Irina on the first part of the singletrack. She is good at the technical stuff but I hoped not to fall to far back here so I could use the hills to my advantage later on the wider trails. I just stayed right behind her not wanting to pass because I'm so darn used to going out easy then working the second half of my races all out. Just past 3k we came out onto the hilly rollers and Irina and a guy were a few seconds ahead. I caught up and just ran with them for a bit. at about 3.5 k I passed them and then started trying to open a gap picking up to 5 min/km +- a few seconds over the hills. I knew I had to keep picking up the pace as I go along and that's what I did. I ran with a guy for a while who helped pull me away from the group behind and we ran together til about 5k or so then he dropped back. Crap, I'm alone and I don't know how far back Irina is so have to keep busting my butt to try and open as much a gap as I can. I then got lucky enough to see a guy up ahead and then work on reeling him in, pass and then gradually work on the next guy. I passed 4 guys along the way doing this never letting up on the pace. I had no idea where Irina was and wanted to get as far ahead as I could before hitting the singletrack in the final 3k. When I did hit the final 3k, I started passing some of the trekkers as their course overlapped ours here. With 1k to go I just went eyeballs out and the final k was a 4.47! This is by no means a fast course. While you can work the midsection of you have the legstrength for the hills, the narrow singletrack will slow things down especially the hilly, tight turns along the way. I cut 3 min off my time from last year too finishing in 1:10 for the win! Irina finished in 1:16. I really didn't know how close or far back she was. I ran this after the 2 mile last year but that 2 mile couldn't have robbed me of 3 minutes, I am in a bit better shape than I was even last spring. Results were posted live online as the organizers really have their stuff together and put on a quality event.
In 2015, the snowshoe is scheduled to be a part of the World Cup. That will be really nice. In Russia, lots of people ski in the winter and less go for snowshoes. It would be great to see snowshoeing continue to grow here much as it has in Europe and the northern US.
Reports and more great pics!