If an event can generate energy then it begins to take on a life of its own. Race Directors can’t make this happen we can only hope it happens. Standing on The Yeti Start/Finish line at Mount Washington there was energy in the air. Over 250 competitors with snowshoes on were ready to take on the challenging yet fun 5k loop either once or twice. This in itself was an exciting moment as Yeti officials believe it was the most participants to ever attend a snowshoe race in Canada.
Mount Washington has received a huge amount of snow this season and is currently boasting one of the biggest snow packs in North America tipping the scales at 350+cm. This makes for an interesting race as the winning times were upwards of 10 minutes slower than previous years due to all the soft snow. In brief the course starts out with a false flat for about 500meters, then it goes up for at least another 500m of trail with an elevation gain of “man O man my legs are burning”. Once up top it levels out but the 2.5k single track seems to keep coming at you and with that soft surface it can really drain a runner. At the end of the single track you are rewarded with a 1.5km big downhill all the way into the start finish area.
Looking at the start list Mount Washington had the fastest guy’s out from the West Coast. All eyes were on Jason Loutitt 2008 National Champion and 2009 Yeti Champion. It was not going to be easy with Shaun Stevens Whale, Neil Holm and Stefan Jacobsen all ready to go. At the start Jason went out hard slapping some serious hurt on the first big climb. On the first lap he had gapped the next 5 top men but that would not last with Shaun Stevens Whale was waiting for his time. Going into the second lap the course had been packed by the 250 participants. One competitor said, “it was like a solid hard sidewalk that had become super fast”.
As the finish line grew closer so did Whale as he poured it on during the final 200m stretch? It is not super common to see two top athletes in an all out sprint at a snowshoe race but that is what it come down to with Jason running a really strong race but not quite strong enough to hold of Shaun Stevens Whale with a winning time of 58:43. Shawn crossed the line pumping the air knowing that he had given it all and realizing that you have to have a great day to bet Jason who finished 10 seconds behind with a time of 58:53. Another sprint was heating up for 3rd with Neil Holm coming in at 1:01:13 just ahead of Stefan Jacobsen by 2 seconds. It was total excitement watching these top athletes give there all!
In the ladies field we saw an all new top 3 from previous years. Ceri Jacobsen was the fastest in the open women’s category with a time of 1:06:29. Ceri and Stefan have been training together and are looking good for the Worlds. A tight race for second place was unfolding with Kristenn Magnusson just edging out Lina Augaitis finishing in 1:09:49 and third place time was 1:10:00 even. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all The yeti participants that came out and enjoyed the day at Mount Washington, nice work everyone! I would also like to thank Mount Washington for having us making this one of our favourite host Mountain.
The stage is set for a great race on Mount Seymour on Saturday Feb 27. We will be treated to not only a great World Snowshoe Invitational event but the Canadian National Championships promises to be a thriller.
For more information about The Yeti Snowshoe Series and the World Snowshoe Invitational, visit www.theyeti.ca.