No I’m not clearing my throat, but rather sitting my slightly weary body down in the chair to pen this article. I’m an elderly man, you see, with an arthritis-riddled body caused by years of voracious activity.
Wait, no, I’m lying. I’m actually a 26-year old healthy and very active woman recovering from the first of this year’s annual Beaver Creek Snowshoe Series races. I’ve been preparing myself for this race for months by running and spinning and swimming…but nothing could have quite prepared me for the awesome “adventure” that the Beaver Creek Snowshoe Race participants found themselves among last Saturday, Dec. 11.
The morning woke to brilliant sunshine and a forecast for much of the same throughout the remainder of the day. Weather perfect for not only enjoying the beauty of Beaver Creek, but as well as ideal for the onset of this year’s Snowshoe Series.
Dressed for success in my Marmot Soft-Shell ATV Jacket, Nike’s Air Teocalli 2 GTX shoes and, most importantly, Tubb’s Catalyst snowshoes, I made my way to the starting area of the race. As I stretched my legs in preparation, I watched as the sun danced its reflection off the snow, nearly taunting me to chase it on my way up the mountain. The lovely gentlemen emceeing the event, outfitted in no less than eskimoesque (is that a word) garb, directed us to the start line.
Some initial confusion reigned as we all trudged to one side of the start line…the side that faces away from the uphill trail. Quickly we were advised that this race would actually commence facing towards the mountain (i.e. racing uphill). I’m not quite sure, as that moment is still a little hazy, but I dare say I might have let out a gasp. But after calming my excited jitters, I edged my way toward the front so as best to get a good start.
“On your mark, get set, GO!” And, we were off!
I’ve run many races on the road and I stick to my mentality of not bursting from the start gate like a bat out of hell. My theory is that of our good friend, The Tortoise, in the age old story “The Tortoise and the Hair”…slow and steady wins the race. So, in my efforts to abide by that rule I began my way up the trail; feeling pretty good I might add.
Then, possibly 10 feet (it could’ve been farther, but the jury’s still out on that one) I started to hear a rather loud wheezing sound. What the? That couldn’t be me…but I’ve trained for this event! I’m in good shape! But alas, it was me making the awful locomotive sounds, but I ignored them still as I continued to forge on ahead.
You might think I’m crazy for continuing to snowshoe as it’s quite obvious that it wasn’t the easiest thing to be doing on a Saturday afternoon, but I promise you my sanity is intact. While my cardiovascular strength was certainly put to the test, it was when I looked around at all my fellow competitors and saw that while we were all pushing ourselves to the limit, there was nothing but smiles on their faces. These adventure series races are not leisurely walks in the park, but rather an opportunity for lovers of the outdoors to wake up on a Saturday morning and challenge themselves. Whether it’s the East-West 5K Quest or the 10K competitive run, The Beaver Creek Snowshoe Series is an avenue for adventure and excitement surrounding a sport that is beginning to make quite a name for itself.
This was my first snowshoe race of the season and I can say wholeheartedly that it’s hooked me. The next race in the series, held Jan. 9, may be more challenging than the first: Uphill climbs that seem to go on forever and deep powder trails that make every muscle in your legs strain.
But, I’m looking forward to it. We don’t have to promise ourselves to be the fastest or the strongest, we just have to promise ourselves to finish and to have fun. Not only did I accomplish both, but I also snagged the inevitable snowshoeing virus that hooks you to the sport for good. I may have only finished forty-ninth in the 5K race, but I’ll be back in January for more – locomotive sounds and all.