Final race in the 2015 series brings the sunshine and summer-ready racers.
There’s not a lot of snow left in the Vail Valley, and the 60 degree, sunny days certainly aren’t helping keep the surface from turning to slush. Beaver Creek’s McCoy Park does still has some snow to romp around on, and Sunday’s race was a great way to round out a great season up there on the trails.
“It was nice because on the single track you kinda stay on top,” said Jeff Bernardy, 54, who came up to the race from Boulder, Colorado. “But I did fall through once.”
Bernardy finished fifth place overall in the 5k and in first place for his age group, with a time of 40 minutes and 37 seconds. He said the 5k, high-altitude snowshoe races have been a good complement to his training, as he is headed to run the London Marathon at the end of April.
“I love racing at altitude,” he said. “This is great cross training for the marathon.”
The 5k and 10k course started downhill, and then at about mile one for both courses, the uphill battle began.
“I knew that it turned to the right and then it was a downhill,” said Greg Hansen, 59, who also traveled up from Boulder for the race. “So I knew I wasn’t going to go anaerobic right away, which really helps.”
Hansen said he backed off at the beginning just a little bit, because he knew the hills were coming. After the first half of hills, though, the 5k and 10k courses dropped into the finish area.
“It was different than the last race, which was in the opposite direction, when you were pretty dead in the first 30 seconds,” he added.
The ascending first half of the courses made for some slowing paces, but once runners hit the turning point to head downhill, they made up time quickly and most finished with times faster than they had on the previous, March 1 course.
Bernardy’s 5k time on March 1 was 45 minutes and 28 seconds — nearly five minutes longer than his time on March 29, for instance.
Hansen landed in second place on the podium for his age group, and he said he has been eyeing the competition that will be in his new age group next year, when he turns 60.
“I am 59, so I usually podium,” he shared. “I turn 60 next year, so I’ve been watching the 60 and up group, and I have been beating them by five to seven minutes.”
Both Bernardy and Hansen competed in the event wearing different versions of Atlas racing snowshoes. Atlas is one of the sponsors for the series.
A Series Well Run
The Beaver Creek Running Series: Snowshoe Edition, is a USSSA regional qualifying event, and is sponsored by Aquafina and Snowshoe Magazine, among others.
A 10k race and a 5k race is offered, as well as a Kids K to warm up the starting line. The series is usually four races total, but this year is was cut to three because of the 2015 Alpine Ski World Championships.
Participant Deb Hyman, 39, of Denver, says the bluebird day was so beautiful, it was distracting.
“It so gorgeous up here today,” she said while basking in the sun at the awards ceremony. “I spent so much time looking around at the mountains that I know I slowed myself down a little bit. It was so worth it, and I don’t expect to be in the top three in my age, so I don’t care.”
Hyman says she participates in this race ever year, and “that’s about it for snowshoes.”
“They always take really good care of you, and give you nice food afterwards, really nice race gifts, too, and the series gifts are always really nice,” she said. “The people are all really friendly, and it’s just a good time. It makes for a great day.”
Race organizer and special events manager for Beaver Creek Resort Company, Jeremy Goss, said at the awards ceremony that race participants have a lot to look forward to for future snowshoe races, and to not forget the other races put on in the summer months.
“We keep doing it because you keep coming out,” he said in the microphone. “So, we’ll see you guys out here again next year. Check out the calendar for the races coming up throughout the summer and fall. Again, thanks for a great season, and enjoy the spring.”
For a full list of race results, visit http://www.beavercreekrunningseries.com/march-29th-results/.
Kim Fuller is a writer and avid snowshoer based in Vail, Colorado.