The best way to describe it is to imagine running hard for an hour on a soft sand beach, in flippers, with REALLY big hills. Now make it -4 degrees celsius. I am still trying to decide if it was fun.
The day started out rough as just getting the top of Mount Seymour was a treacherous ordeal. I sometimes forget that even though we are in Vancouver, we are still in the mountains. The REAL mountains. And thus I underestimated my little cars ability to drive up a mountain road in snowy conditions. She didn't fail me, as we made it there safe and sound, but the hazards got a workout and the 10 minute drive took more like 25.
The top of the hill was in near white out conditions and I was wondering if fate was being cruel by allowing us (I was with Katrina Driver) to make it to the top. We found a parking spot that we thought we would be able to get out of and quickly went inside to get our numbers. The race start time was quickly approaching due to the length of time it took to get to the top, so we hurriedly changed into race appropriate clothing and ran over to the start. Fortunately, the start of the race was delayed a little to allow everyone time to get their registration done and come to the start of the race. Katrina and I ran a little of the course for our warmup and then went to the Start/Finish line.
One would think that a snowshoe race would not draw that stellar of a field, but on the line was a member of the Canadian Mountain Running Team, the Knee Knacker record holder, and one of BC's top endurance athletes. I looked around and realized that I am in a community that has exceptional athletes. So, I was definitely concerned when about 15 minutes into the race, the Knee Knacker record holder and the Mountain Running Team member went by me. The fact that I was up that far was a little disconcerting. As this was my first snowshoe race I had no idea of what to expect, but based on the people passing me, I surmised that I had gone out a little too fast.
The race was three loops - a figure 8, going upper loop, lower loop, upper loop, resulting in us passing the Start/Finish area twice. This is fine, but the issue was that I found this out as I was approaching the Start/Finish area for the second, and what I thought was the final time. I had been told before the race that the course was a figure 8 and had assumed that meant that I would run the figure 8 and that would be it. So when I asked how much farther was left after the lower loop, the answer I was looking for was 100m or maybe even 300m - not one more loop.
I was sad. I had some conversations in my head. Maybe I just don't like to hurt. Maybe I am a wimp. Maybe I am just that bad at hills. And then I remembered that this was my first snowshoe race and that I was using this race to train for other more important races. This made me feel better as 3 other people passed me. The sun had emerged at that point and the terrain was unreal. Snow covered trees and soft rolling hills of powder surrounded me. I was out in the mountains of BC and running in snowshoes. If I hadn't known about the hill that was about to come, I would have enjoyed the moment.
So, one relentless snowshoe race done. I saw some Victoria people (Hi Leigh-Anne!) which was great. They loved the race. Me? I am still deciding. But regardless of whether or not it was fun, it was good for me. And I will do another (two).
The Yeti Snowshoe 10k - Mount Seymour: 62ish minutes.
PS. We think Katrina was 3rd, which was awesome considering it was her first race and she was not going too hard.