Down-up course ‘hardest ever’ at Beav’
What comes down must go up. You know there’s going to be a struggle at the end when you’re running a race that starts and finishes at the top of the mountain. In the case of Saturday’s snowshoe race at Beaver Creek, the struggle lasted the entire last half of the race.”Three miles down and three miles up,” said Lindsay Krause, who won the women’s 10-kilometer race of the Beaver Creek/Nike ACG Snowshoe Adventure Series with a time of 1 hour, 14.51 minutes. “I prefer the opposite – uphill at the beginning and downhill at the end. I thought it was real tough. I think it was definitely the hardest (snowshoe) race I’ve ever done.”Both the 10K and the 5K races began at the top of Strawberry Park Express lift and sent racers straight down a series of blue ski runs and some steep singletrack through aspen glades where racers were sliding, falling backward and doing face plants left and right in thigh-deep powder. After a short traverse, the uphill grind began and didn’t let up for the remainder of the race. “It was very challenging, just how they had us running uphill the whole second half of the race. It was half down and half up, and it wasn’t gradual either way,” said Josiah Middaugh, who won the men’s 10K Saturday in 57.47 and who is still unbeaten in the series.
“It’s always tough to have an uphill finish, but you just have to expect that everyone’s going to be suffering on it,” he said. “I always like more technical, challenging courses, and this is definitely one of those. I don’t know if I’ve done a looped course that’s this tough before with that much climbing in the second half of the race.”Greg Krause, Lindsay’s husband, finished a hair behind Middaugh in 58.00 after returning to racing following rehabilitation for a fractured tibia. “Josiah and I just started out running downhill, going as fast as we could. We were taking turns trying to stay upright, and then we turned around and it was just a battle back up,” Greg Krause said. “I kind of like downhill for a mile and uphill for a mile … this was still good, but it hurt. My calves hurt a lot going uphill. I’m always looking forward to little downhills or little flats where you can get your legs going again, but there wasn’t very many of those going back up.”Some racers, such as Katie Mazzia, who took second in the women’s 10K with a time of 1:17.03, enjoyed the downhill-first format. “You kind of warm up first,” she said. “It gives you a little bit of a break because you’re just powerhiking uphill. But it’s still hard no matter what. You’re dying on the uphill, for sure. But it’s fun. On the downhill, you’re just trying to balance yourself. It’s so technical, it’s distracting, so you’re not really thinking about it.”
Kelly Smith wrapped up the women’s 10K podium in 1:21.32, and Simon Gutierrez took third in the men’s 10K in 1:00.36. Zack DiCristino won the men’s 5K in 47.07 and was followed by John Litschert (49.10) and Dennis Webb (49.36). Kim McDonnell won the women’s 5K with a time of 50.38 and was followed by Lynda Andros (51.04) and Laurie Edwards (52.03).Somebody’s great idea World champion adventure racer Mike Kloser is responsible for selecting the courses for Saturday’s races. While he said the 5K course was probably more challenging because it had shorter distance over which to spread the significant vertical gain – he estimated about 2,000 feet of climbing in the 10K and more than 1,200 in the 5K – the 5K had about a 50-50 percentage of positive-negative feedback, and the 10K was mostly positive.
“I think anyone doing the 10K is usually willing to take on a little more of a challenge,” he said. “I’d say these courses are some of the toughest ever at Beaver Creek. We’re not trying to torture people in our snowshoe series. We want to have fun. We’ll try to make at least the 5K courses a little more palatable in the future. We listen to feedback. I think deep down inside, people feel rewarded in the end. They can tar and feather me, but they might thank me later.”Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado