An annual feature of the opening event for the new season of USSSA Qualifying is . . . which route will Race Director and Pedal Power’s chief of everything, Bruce Kelly, choose this time! Adam Chase, author, writer and leader on snow and dirt trails, noted, “The course has changed every year, and this year was a dramatic shift because it took advantage of some new mountain biking trails they had built over the summer.”
Experience on this mountain is paying off for a number of competitors as they made quantum jumps in the results. John Tribbia leapt to a second place finish from his sixth in 2008; Carl Bruggeman, fifth from a 12th; Kevin Menard sixth from 13th; Rick Gregory ninth from 14th, and Peter Dann cracked the top ten from his 16th 2008 result.
But it was 2008 National Team member, Logan Wealing, (Seth Wealing won this same race in 2006 and at the same age) who led the way with a 59:24 overall win, and by doing so sent a statement to all front runners planning to race the 2010 National USSSA Championship in Syracuse: the race to the front is going to be one hotly contested event.
The Women’s 10km class featured a 50% jump in entrants and a brand new list of competitors for this year’s race except for one: Cindy Cain, the most senior of the class, bumped up another notch this year, to seventh, for her 2009 finish. In addition, two National Team members, Cheryl Paulson and Casey Shea, raced this qualifier even though they have a bye into the National Championship. Cheryl was second and Casey fourth.
It is a mark of pride that these National Team members are out racing the qualifiers, improving themselves with this stiff competition, supporting the events, and by their participation elevating the competition and notoriety of the race.
Cynthia Lauren Arnold ran away with first place with her 1:11:38 effort, a seventh overall. McKenna Berlanti edged Casey Shea for third place.
Some who failed to retain their Christmas spirit very long managed to mess up the route by heisting directional signs. Although it did not appear to create a challenge for the field and top finishers, the altered route cut minutes off the finish times.
Adam, missing seventh place by seven seconds to a much younger Brian Welch, noted in an interview, “The day was sunny and crisp enough that nobody was overheating, especially in the mostly wooded route that was akin to a quadruple helix.” Those spirals had to be a lot of fun to race even when the snow got a little skimpy at points.
“Everyone had quite an adventure, given the many places we had to clear logs and fallen trees, dodge branches, struggle to stay upright on almost vertical descents, and hump it up equivalent ascents.”
In the companion 5km race, David Franz won overall with his 37:22, well ahead of second place Ciro Zarate. In the Women’s race, Kelly Place won with a 45:54, missing third overall by seven seconds to Louis Brenner.
One of the joys of a snowshoe race sponsored by a festive, energetic pizza restaurant, Pazzos (three of ‘em to make it easier to find), is finishing the race, and eating . . . a lot! Known for their Grateful Dead collection, the restaurants are modestly priced and have plenty of spaghetti offerings for a pre-long training trek dinner.
The Pedal Power Nordic Snowshoe Adventure Series annually has one of the top ‘free’ features of all of the qualifiers: a downloadable poster that is always imaginative and creative. Be sure to print out a copy and post it on the wall.
Adam summed up the first qualifier of the new season: “With delicious pizza and a warm meeting room waiting finishers, there wasn’t any whining to be heard by the content and exhausted field.”
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United States Snowshoe Association: www.snowshoeracing.com
Information on the author: www.ultrasuperior.com