Monday, 29 February 2016

Dion Red Barn Snowshoe Race - Series finale Race report

   My husband Greg and I raced in our final race of the Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Running Series  yesterday at the Dion Red Barn snowshoe race near Napanee, Ontario.  My coach Derrick Spafford is the Race Director for this one, and having raced in his Sydenham fall trail run last year, I was looking forward to another one of his races.

Photo Credit: Grace Vanderzande

Getting lined-up and ready to go.  Photo Credit: Grace Vanderzande

Love this photo - Justin up ahead, CJ, myself, and Greg in a tight pack.  Photo Credit: Grace Vanderzande

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Greg and Joe climbing and looking strong. 
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I am focusing on Erin ahead of me as I climb. 
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   There was lots of deep snow on course with slushy muck under much of the deep snow.  Most of the 5.6k course was single track, rutty, crusty snow (sometimes with surprise mush underneath - fun!).  It was the toughest snowshoe running conditions that I have encountered so far.  I wanted to go out hard and try to hold my pace .  That's what I did (although the holding the pace thing didn't work out like I had planned).  I flew out of the start, Greg and CJ Best were close behind.  They passed me at around 500m into the race, and I tried to go with them, but couldn't hold their pace.  I ended up running much of the race with Erin McDougall (one of the RD's from the last 2 snowshoe races I ran).  I just focused on him and stayed with him as the course wound through forest, past a cabin, and circled back to the barn.  I watched two falls happen in front of me (luckily no injuries).  In the first km, Graham Ross did some snowshoe gymnastics as his snowshoe was stepped on by another runner, and he tumbled - rolling right into a large puddle.  Erin had a fall in front of me too - within 500m to the finish.  He got up and laughed about it as quickly as he went down.  On this same long stretch, I could see the first place female runner.  I pushed to try to shorten the gap between us, but she was too far ahead.  I finished feeling less wrecked than the last race.  It was tough, but I was just starting to get into a grove and I was wishing the course was a bit longer.  Maybe a bit of me didn't want my snowshoe season to end so soon.   I finished 9th overall, 2nd female.  Greg had another really strong race, finishing 4th overall - just amazing in his first year snowshoe racing too.
Greg finishing - Go Greg go!  Photo Credit: Grace Vanderzande

Moments after the finish.  I'm walking over to Greg, and feeling a bit blah about my finish.  Photo Credit: Grace Vanderzande

     I wouldn't be honest (or human) if I said that I wasn't disappointed that I didn't have the same finishing result as last week.  But that feeling didn't last long.  After the race, while joking about his epic fall, Graham was asking me why I didn't race in the Frontenac Snowshoe race.  I explained that I had a lingering injury that was still bothering me at that time - and it was then that it occurred to me that, I am SO lucky to be racing this well, so soon after an injury.  The win last week threw me into competitive-mode and I forgot how fast I was able to bounce back.  I am so grateful for that!  For the last week I had forgotten about my recent injury, the idea that I may win the series was a nice one to entertain.  I had a great idea about who I would give my hypothetical winning snowshoe prize to, and it was exciting to think about me winning the series in my rookie year as a snowshoe runner.  But that was not to be.  CJ Best won the race, placing her first in the series.  I was second in the race, and in the series.  She is an amazing athlete, and it's wonderful getting a chance to race with her.  Congrats CJ on your win, and all the best in your future racing seasons (on or off snowshoes).  Full results can be found here.

Derrick presenting me the 2nd place female award - Thanks D!  Photo credit:

     After a nice cool-down with Greg, Joe and Erin we enjoyed the post-race food and best post-race coffee ever (Thanks Hillside coffee!) by a roaring bonfire.  Race director Derrick Spafford sourced over $2500 worth of prizes to be awarded at the race.  I appreciate my prize for my 2nd in the ladies division - a running room gift card, lip balm, Elevate me bars, and my favourite out of the heap of goodies was a pair of handmade fleece socks (made by Derrick's mom).  I absolutely love those!  I ended up walking away with a draw prize as well - some Kahtoola Microspikes.  Looking forward to using those on the trails!

     Our drive home was easy and we got through Toronto without any difficulty.  Greg and I chatted about our races, and the upcoming races that we're going to do together.   Greg is thinking about running his first ultra this summer.  I'm thrilled about this - it has taken me 8 years to convince Greg to give it a try.  Greg was joking that if he's going to be an ultra trail runner, he needs to seriously consider growing a beard.  Get that beard growing Greg!

     I love these weekends away together with Greg.  I'm extremely lucky to be able to race with him and do these events together.  We get some time away exploring new places and doing something we love.  My parents hosted another "sleepover at Grandmas" and the kids were happy to spend the weekend with their Grandparents.  Thank you Mom and Dad!

     My very short snowshoe racing season is done. I hope to race in the series again next year.  I had a great time.  My focus quickly changes from getting myself ready for racing to getting my student-athletes ready to race.  I coach and help to prepare a large group of kids to race in a local charity 5k race in April, and then those runners become my distance team for track and field.  Since I've missed a few years of teaching/coaching due to maternity leave and illness, I hope to begin to build the team again to the enthusiastic group of distance runners that I had a few years ago.  I'm looking forward to getting out there and running with my team.

   Thanks to my sponsors CLIF bar for the delicious CLIF shots, CLIF bars, CLIF bloks, and CLIF builders protein bars, that I use in my training.  Thanks to Dion Snowshoes for the amazing Dion 121 Racing Frame snowshoes from Spafford Health and Adventure.  Thanks again to Spafford Health and Adventure for the entry to the race.  Thanks to RD Derrick Spafford (and his team of family and friends) for a very well-done race.  Everything went great.  The course was well-marked and really beautiful.  And it was one of those races where you can see the race director's personal touches in it (some good example are the dozens of hand-made socks given away, the live music, the food, and the enormous amount of draw prizes - almost everyone got a little something that they weren't expecting).  Special thanks to my coach Derrick - thanks for introducing me and Greg to this awesome sport, we both had fantastic rookie seasons - you created two more snowshoe running enthusiasts!


  1. Well done on your race! Knowing that you were right behind me for the whole 2nd half of the race helped me to keep pushing my pace. I hope we cross paths at some trail races this year. Erin

    1. Thanks Erin! Congrats to you on a fabulous race. Thanks for setting the pace out there. All the best with your trail races this year.

  2. Congratulations to you and Greg on your rookie seasons. I wonder if Greg knows that you have signed him up for a 12 hour ultra race.

    1. Shhhhh Nelson! I was going to tell him when his beard grew in. He'll take the news better then :)