The second race in the 2013 Beaver Creek Mountain Running Series Snowshoe Edition, and regional qualifier for the USSSA National Championships in Bend, Ore., happened this past Snowshoe “Super Bowl” Sunday. More than 225 racers gathered at Creekside Park in Beaver Creek for the start of the event. Temperatures in the high 20s, clear skies and recent snowfall made for mild running conditions and a fast course.
Kids in the crowd towed the line for the Kids K before everyone else gathered in the corral for the 5K and 10K races. Several of the junior racers crossed with just one snowshoe, but big smiles.
Runners in the East-West Resort 5K traveled wide groomed trails and powdery single-track on an out-and-back lollipop course. Those racing the 10K ran the same course for a mile and a half, and then continued to run and climb for a comprehensive tour of the eastern hillside and lower ski slopes of Beaver Creek Resort.
A beginning loop around the playground helped to sort the pack before hitting single track, though jostling continued throughout the run, with most runners taking advantage of wider sections for easier passing. Snow was soft on the groomed trails and sugar soft in the trees, although some off camber sections made for challenging footing. As did the icy, spring conditions on low-lying, south-facing trails.
While this route is doesn’t have the lung burning steeps of January’s west side course, racers had plenty of climbing, with 820 feet on the 5K and 1626 feet on the 10K. For the finish, all racers had a final uphill push, which was tough to tackle on tired legs and after striding it out on a lengthy downhill. Whether the final 100 yards was a sprint or shuffle, all were greeted with refreshments and finishers’ prizes.
Josiah Middaugh continued his 10K domination with winning time of 52:45. But he had ultrarunner and first time snowshoer Sage Canaday hot on his heals. Canaday crossed the line in 53:26 for second place. Gabriel Small rounded out the podium with 59:32.
“A win is all the more rewarding when you have to work for it,” said Middaugh. “But I wasn’t too excited about it at mile two when Canaday was gapping me.” Middaugh reeled Canaday back in by mile three and maintained his lead for the rest of the race.
“I knew Josiah was going to pass me on the downhill,” said Canaday. “I was really surprised at how technical the off camber downhills were and I fell a lot – but this made my legs burn like running does and felt good.”
For the women, Jennifer Razee scored first with 1:07:05. Another ultrarunner, Sandi Nypaver, who happens to be Canaday’s girlfriend, claimed second place with a time of 1:09:45 and Karen Mellion-Smith finished in 1:11:22 for third.
“I wished I had tapered before the race, but the course was really pretty and I liked the wide sections before the single track,” according to Nypaver.
New for the race was a return to age group divisions, instead of the amateur and pro divisions tested at the first race.
Because this is a USSSA event, two racers reached qualifying status: Jason Eshleman and Mike Green.
“After the first race, we looked at the feedback and decided to switch to age groups and eliminate the pro/amateur split,” according to race director Jeremy Gross. “With the switch, we increased the number of athletes on the podium from 12 for the first race to 42 for this one.”
The next race will be up at McCoy Park on March 3. For more information, visit www.beavercreekrunningseries.com.