The snow was slushy at the start/finish area as the combination of the groomer and warmer weather made it feel as though we were running on sand. However, the snow in the forest was very runnable and it was there that I felt best. With fewer long hills I was able to get into a flow and draft some good runners. Tim (who I met after the race) dragged me through the first lap. I was conservative, sitting at the back of the third pack. Jason Louttit, teammate Colin Dignum, and Shaun Stephen-Whale were out on there own. Teammates Simon and Adam were in the next group, with me in the third pack. The two loop course allowed for some opportunities to see each other, especially at the start/finish, where I was about a minute back of Adam and 90 seconds from Simon. It was at this point that I moved through my pack and the aerobic beast that is Eric Langhjelm (who hasn't run in 2 weeks as a result of a car accident) joined me. Whooping and hollering, he took me through most of the second lap. We distanced ourselves from the group behind us and slowly gained on the boys in front. Going out conservatively paid off big time as we were able to run the single track quickly and I felt strong on the hills - a stark contrast from my first snowshoe race where I suffered on every hill during the second loop. We eventually caught sight of Adam and pushed a little more, with me taking the lead. It was not important for me to beat Adam (a grade 12 kid who recently ran a 4:32 mile after only starting to train last year), but there was a team award that we were chasing - the team award was decided based on the combined time of the top 4 guys and top girl, obviously with the lowest time being first place. Placing was not as important as making up seconds, and I was able to pull within shouting distance of Adam as we came out of the forest and sprinted to the finish.
I am pleased with my race. Colin was 2nd, Simon was 6th, Adam 7th, and me 8th (I think those are right, but I haven't seen official results - we may be one place back). Katrina Driver, one of girls (who is 4 months pregnant) pulled out as she wasn't feeling great, but Brooke (our other girl) ran well and with her finishing time secured victory for Team Atlas Canada. So, there it is - we are the National Snowshoe Champions. I write that with a little smile on my face because there was really only one other team there that was competitive (and they did great), but it is not a true nationals (yet).
I enjoyed my snowshoe racing season. It didn't start out that way, but after learning about how to race on the snow I am looking forward to next year. There are some amazing runners who have done very well snowshoeing, so I am not sure if I will be selected to Team Atlas next year, but it has been fun this year.
Tomorrow is the 8k. Round two. Here we go.