Snowshoe racers off to a climb
BEAVER CREEK – The distinction between breathable and nonbreathable clothing becomes clingingly obvious in snowshoe racing.And some runners were truly soaked in sweat as they clattered across the finish line Saturday at the first snowshoe race of Beaver Creek’s 2004-05 Adventure Series.Helen Cospolich of Breckenridge, who won the 10-kilometer race for the women, had enough ice balls clumped into her ponytail to keep hydrated for a while.”This race was hard for me,” said Cospolich, who is a professional ultra-runner and has placed top-three in several 50- and 100-mile races, including the Leadville 100. “But I tell you, Lindsay just blasted past me. She really seems to have a second gear.”Cospolich, who has also won the first two races in the Nike ACG/Pedal Power Adventure racing series this season, finished the 10K in 1 hour, 8 minutes and 49 seconds, but said that Lindsay Krause, who finished 12th, should have won the race. After passing Cospolich and the other racers, Krause took a wrong turn and accidentally ran up the steepest, longest uphill section of the course twice.
“I swear to God, I did at least two extra miles,” said Krause, whose two extra miles gave her a finish time of 1:21.35. “Oh, well … next time.”Josiah Middaugh, who’s also won the first two Pedal Power races, won the men’s 10K race Saturday with a time of 55:17.00, ahead of Bernie Boettcher (55:55.00), and Travis Macy (58:00.00). Middaugh’s competition forte is usually triathlons, and although he’s trying to taper off on racing this winter, he said he probably won’t be able to resist doing the entirety of both the Beaver Creek and Pedal Power snowshoe series. He said that Saturday’s race, with its steady and long uphill climbs and soft snow, clearly exemplifies the aerobic benefits of snowshoe racing.”This is a really tough course,” he said. “It’s got a ton of climbing – you probably climb the first two miles, then there’s another maybe mile climb in there. It was a lot of heavy, wet snow. (Snowshoe racing) is probably the best winter aerobic workout you can get. Generally, you climb up a lot steeper grades (than in trail running), and you have weight on your feet.”With the refined technology of racing-specific snowshoes, one might guess that the extra weight might not be a factor when compared with regular dry-weather running. Snowshoe racers say otherwise.”It’s a lot different,” said John Litschert of Fort Collins, who won the men’s 5K (43:17), which was his inaugural snowshoe race. “It just changes your form. It was kind of lucky in a sense that the first half was all uphill. You don’t have to worry too much about your form. You just keep slogging uphill, so I got pretty used to having this stuff on your feet. I couldn’t believe how much climbing there was. I just kept waiting. I was like, ‘When’s the downhill going to start?’ But the best part of the race was the course – being out there in the middle of nowhere.”Kim McConnell of Erie, who won the women’s 5K in 44:41, just four seconds ahead of Heidi Vosbeck, also does trail and road running and said that snowshoes are one of the solitary means of accessing wooded areas in the winter.
“It’s very beautiful, but yeah, it’s a good workout,” she said. “You’re going anaerobic a lot longer. But the courses are so pretty. It’s fun to be able to run in the winter. This is one of the only ways you can get back in there and really see the resort in full.”Of course, the extra equipment makes for different strategies when it comes to snowshoe racing. Lisa Isom, who finished second behind Cospolich in 1:09.17, beat Karen Melliear-Smith (1:10.37) and said that figuring out how to use the metal claw on the bottom of the shoes can eat up time both when running uphill and downhill in a snowshoe race.The secret of the shoe”There are definitely some places where it’s so steep, if you’re not digging in, you’re going to slide backwards,” Isom said. “On the downhills, it’s almost like you’re skiing. You’re sitting back on the snowshoes and sliding down. It’s a lot of strategy. It takes a couple seasons to figure out what to do where and when.”For once, strategy wasn’t the first thing on Mike Kloser’s mind. Kloser participated in Saturday’s 5K with his 11-year-old son, Christian, who won the boys’ race in 1:36.00 (Kerry Carmody won for girls in 2:13.00). Kloser recently got back into town following The Raid – an adventure race in Patagonia that he won along with teammates Ian Adamson, Danelle Ballangee and Michael Tobin. Kloser plans to compete in the rest of the series but wanted to take a rare moment to follow in the footsteps of his son (rather than the other way around).
“It was fun to run with my son, for once,” Kloser said. “A body needs rest. You sustain a certain level in competition. You always push that level. You never really find a peak. In order to find peaks, you need to find balance. It’s great fun to just relax. I love the fact that the people who participate in this event find it so enjoyable. It’s all about having fun. Next time, though, I’ll try to mix it up with the fast boys.”Saturday’s race marked the first in the four-part Beaver Creek Adventure Series which continues Jan. 9 and which is running in its seventh season. More than 400 competitors turned out for the race. Snowshoe racing continues this Saturday at 10 a.m. with the third race of the Pedal Power series in Eagle-Vail. Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado