Monday, 23 January 2017

Racing a Snowshoeless Snowshoe race -The Dion Ignite the Night Snowshoe race in Morrisburg

     What happens when you're signed up for a snowshoe race and there's no snow?  You run anyway! The Dion Ignite the Night Snowshoe Running race on Saturday January 21, 2017 turned into a regular-shoe running race and I joined the 135 people, to run a very wet and muddy trail/road race through the beautifully-lit Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg, Ontario.

     On the way, my husband and I stopped and met my coach and the Dion Ontario Snowshoe Running Series coordinator, Derrick Spafford to pick up some race supplies as we were passing by.  Derrick gave me a light to borrow for the race.  A super-bright running light that goes around your waist Ultraspire Lumen 600.  I've never seen anything like it before, but I was excited to give it a try.  I haven't raced at night since my attempts at the 24 hour distance, and I love running at night, but I was a bit worried about my little headlamp's ability to light up my surroundings enough to feel confident out there. No need to worry!  As you'll read below, the Ultraspire Lumen 600 did a fabulous job of lighting the way.

Don't they look sad in the back of our Prius?!  The poor, unused rental fleet of Dion Racing Snowshoes
   We arrived at the Upper Canada Village well before race time to unload some supplies, put up some banners, and tetris the (unneeded) rental fleet of snowshoes into the back of our Prius - we are bringing them to the next race in the series The Dion Brighton Snowshoe Running Race - hoping that there will be enough snow.  Greg and I enjoyed wandering around the little pioneer village, and we were looking forward to speeding-around that place in the dark.  The 10k race was a double loop of a 5k course.  I really like looped courses.  I settle into a nice pace on the first lap, check out the course and figure out a place where I'm going to push on the second lap. When I get there on lap 2, I increase the pace as much as I can, and hold on for dear life to the finish :)

Upper Canada Village - all lit up in the fog - beautiful!

     It was nice and dark when the Race Director Gilles Parisien called all the runners to the start line.  He started the race and we were off!  The race wound around the Pioneer Village which was fully-lit with thousands of Christmas lights (soo pretty!), before it turned off onto grass/trails/muddy-goo around the Upper Canada Village property.  The course was mostly-flat with a few climbs at around 2/7k, and a few short road sections.  I started the race off at a comfortably quick pace and settled in with a group of 3 men who were running the same speed as me. It was really dark and foggy, and it was hard to see very far ahead.  Gilles used reflective course marking, but because of the fog, we could only see a few meters ahead of us...with our headlamps.  My waist light (Ultraspire Lumen 600), was fantastic at casting a wide light at our feet.  It was so good at doing this, that the group of guys that I was with stayed really close because they were using my light to see!  I had pulled ahead of my husband at the beginning (he is better at remaining in control at the beginning of races, and I have trouble controlling my enthusiasm and usually go out too hard). I was expecting him to come up on me and pass me as the race went on. I was soaked from early on in the race, so I was just blasting through puddles as I ran -so much fun - I highly recommend you try that :) As I came to the top of the last climb, I was ready to push to the finish.  So was the group of guys I was running with, and we surged to the end.  I finished in 42:00 for 10k.  9th overall and I was the first woman to cross the line.  Greg finished soon after in 11th with a time of 42:23.  I was thrilled with my first snowshoeless snowshoe race of the 2017 season.  I held a steady pace and was able to kick at the end with some energy left. 

    I was given a unique award when I was called up for my overall female award in the 10k.  I got a medal made in the blacksmith shop of the pioneer village -cool!  Also, I got a really pretty sterling silver Rembrandt Charms snowshoe necklace from Pommier Jewellers in Cornwall (big thank you Andre at Pommier Jewellers!)

     We had a nice drive back to our hotel in Kingston, listening to awful 90's flashback songs on the radio - "singing" loudly to Vanilla ice's "ice ice baby" was a real treat :) Once at the hotel, we flipped a switch and had a roaring fire in our fireplace and drank some celebratory beverages.  Snowshoeless race #1 down, the Dion Brighton Snowshoe race is next week, and then it's the Dion Winter Goose Chase Snowshoe Race - where I'm the RD!  Alright everyone, I need your best snowdances!!!

Me and the winner of the women's 5k race - posing with our overall female awards - Rembrandt Charms Silver snowshoe necklaces from Pommier Jewellers in Cornwall

The Women's top 3 and top master in the Ignite the Night 10k race
     More thank yous:  
  • Thanks to the Race Director Gilles Parisien and his team of volunteers for putting on a fantastic event.  I had a great time, and I can't wait to try it again (maybe on snowshoes next time). 
  •  My coach Derrick Spafford for the encouragement and preparing me for the race (and the fantastic light to use too).  
  • Dion Running snowshoes - I wish I could have done the race on my Dions.  
  • CLIF bar for the CLIF bars, CLIF builders bars, CLIF shots, CLIF shot bloks and CLIF organic trail mix bars, that I use in my training and racing.  
  • Greg - another fantastic quick trip away.  Thanks for everything you do to help me be the runner that I am.  You're all kinds of amazing.
  • My parents - the kids love their "sleepovers with Grandma".  Thank you for being so supportive of my running.

The medals and the necklace prize (they even look like Dions!).  Rembrandt Charm Silver Snowshoe necklace was a donation from Pommier Jewellers in Cornwall, Ontario

After the race in our cozy hotel room.  There may be wine in those mugs.

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