The Snowshoe Classic, Alaskan style, fashioned a noble finish indeed as snowshoe Series leader, Ben Nelson, clinched yet another race victory to seal his win for the annual Infinity Woodworks Dion Finnish Line Championship.
2007 USSSA medalist Chad Carroll reported, “It was a perfect Fairbanks day at 10 degrees and sunny. In mid-January the temp was a minus 50 so this was quite a pleasant day to be out snowshoeing.”
Conducted by Running Club North (“We’re up and Running”), the series is intense fun where some events can find temperatures edging new -50 F. If you didn’t think this winter was already wimpy in the lower 48, knowing they experience that extreme really can cause a bowing of the head in shame.
Nelson entered this event with a scant ten-point series lead. Without No. 2 in points Kevin Brinegar competing, the new champion didn’t have to win to clinch . . . but he did. However, there was a surprising close call by the overall silver finish of Carroll who pushed the younger Nelson within 24 seconds at the line.
“The Snowshoe Classic changed to a new venue this year moving to the classic ski trail at Goldstream Sports,” Carroll told me. “The 8 km race featured three sections of ungroomed, unbroken trail through two-plus feet of snow with a separate trail for men and women. Ben Nelson led the race from the start opening a gap of 20 meters on me in the first 2 km before hitting the first ungroomed section.”
As Nelson broke trail, Carroll quickly caught him only to watch him scamper away on the groomed sections. This pattern repeated itself throughout the race as Nelson pulled away for the win in the last 2 km. On the last and longest ungroomed section of trail, third-place finisher Andy Holland (55) caught sight of the leaders and “had a glimmer of hope in catching us until he started on the challenging section of the course himself.”
Native Alaskan Jerry Sam had very little trouble covering ground on the unbroken trail as “he raced in traditional wooden snowshoes allowing him to float across the snow.”
In the race, Andy Holland won overall third. Eric Rankin, Jerry Sam, and Keith Pollock rounded out the top men’s finishers.
Nellie Ballou won the women’s class with the numerically pleasant 53:35. “Ballou enjoyed her first snowshoe race. She led the women’s race from the start and due to her light weight she didn’t have much of a struggle racing through the ungroomed trail sections.”
Taking silver overall and therefore winning the women’s division in the Finnish Series was points-leader Susan McDiamond who along with Nelson earned the title “King and Queen of Fairbanks Snowshoe Racing” by winning the 6 race Infinity Snowshoe Series.
The companion 4 km found Shane McBurney with gold in 25:42 while Steve Lanford finished with the silver.
The Infinity Snowshoe Series attracted 45 hearty competitors for 2012 and is consists of these races: Ballaine 9 km, Emily’s Memorial (8 km), Moose Mountain Snowshoe Challenge (8.5 km), Almost Solstice Snowshoe Shuffle (1 mile), and the Heart of Darkness (7 km).
Training runs are held every Tuesday at 5:30 pm with this ominous note: “The training run will be held regardless of temperature.”
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