Monday, February 9, 2009

Kahtoola Bigfoot SnowshoeFestival January 31, 2009

Ok, let me preface this race report with the fact that I really dislike running in cold weather and I don’t like running on snow and ice either. I define cold as anything less than 30 degrees, and even that’s not much to my liking. So what did I do? Sign up for a 50K snowshoe race out in Midway, UT. I have no brains. I’d like to also mention that I had never been on snowshoes in my life until about 4pm Friday afternoon in my backyard. A couple of trips across the yard with them on and I was good to go… I thought.
John Bozung of Squaw Peak 50 mile fame puts this race on and Kahtoola is the main sponsor. They make a series of snowshoes that are really nice. They also had a bunch available to use for those of us without them.
The race took place at Wasatch Mountain State Park on the golf course and up in the surrounding hills. The 50K race I entered involved a 10K loop on the golf course followed by a 5K loop up the mountainside followed by another 10K loop on the golf course, then rinse and repeat. We had wear snowshoes for the first 10K and 5K loops and then we could take them off if we wanted.
We started at 8am as the sun was just coming up. My car told me that the temp. was a very cold 7 degrees. Did I mention that I dislike running in cold weather? I knew that once the sun was up the temps would warm up. I was also wearing black to help absorb some warmth. I also knew that I would be throwing off some serious heat once the race started.
We all took off on the 10K loop in the fog and early morning sun. The golf course has a series of groomed trails for snowshoers, x-country skiers and anyone else who wants to go out, so we had a really nice packed trail 10 feet wide to follow. I managed to go around the 10K loop the first time in about 1:20. A lot slower than my normal 10K time, but I figured that would be the case. After I left the start/finish area I headed over for the 5K single track up the mountainside. The 5K loop has the same vertical as the 10K loop, but in half the distance, so the climbs are much steeper. Couple that with the fact that it was single track and you have a recipe for faceplants. I managed two during this loop by stepping on my snowshoes. It was a tough climb up the hillside followed by a great run back down. I think I did the 5K loop in about 40 minutes, but I’m not sure, also much slower than my normal 5K time (duh).
After a couple minutes at the start/finish I went back out on the 10K loop. I did about half of this with my snowshoes still on my feet then decided that was enough and took them off. I found I could run much easier but not necessarily faster. I ended up completing that loop in about 1:40. It was while on this loop that I decided to drop down to the 25K. My feet were absolutely soaked and frozen and I did have some concern about frostbite. Not only that, but I was rapidly developing a painful blister on my heel from the snowshoe strap. I should have placed it lower on my shoe. Oh well.
So after about 3:55, I finished the 25K. Good enough for 3rd place (I think, results aren’t up yet) out of six runners.
I did have a pretty good time in spite of the cold and snow. John puts on a pretty good race. Very low key. The course was challenging, the scenery beautiful. Lots of good homemade chili and soup at the finish. Would I do it again? I might, but I won’t sign up for the 50K. That’s just too much time outside with cold, wet, frozen feet.

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