Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Belleville 10K Snow Race

Saturday, February 11, 2015
North Kingstown, RI

My third year of running this race (I missed the inaugural race due a conflict with kids' meets.)


As you can see, the pattern is snow, and this year would be no different with about two feet of snow on the ground.  I ran a very short warm-up, as I didn't want to wear myself out before the race even started.
With deep snow at the start,
the race quickly turned into near single-file on the most established path.
(Photo by Jana)

The start:  Lined up in about the second row. We had the full width of the field to utilize, but as the siren sounded it became quickly apparent that the path of least resistance was to run single-file in established tracks.  As we reached the parking lot, there were two choices:  run to the left in deep snow, or run across the parking lot in sheer ice.  In Jonny I Trust, and thus I followed him across the icy lot.  My Yak-Trax "Run" model with the carbide bits served me well here, and I had no issue at all with traction.  A possible downside is at the end of the lot we had to run through parked cars to get back onto the main trail, but it didn't seem to add much.  After crossing the pond dam and passing one other runner, we were now behind Seth.  About a half-mile in Jonny followed Seth, and I followed suit as Seth shouted words of encouragement.
Jonny (2nd in shorts and green) leading the way onto the ice;
I'm following (in similar garb) directly behind him
(Photo by Jana)

I followed Jonny for a while, but he gained distance on me on the 2/3 mile elevated rail bed.  After the sharp turn into the parking lot, it's a short distance to the power lines.  At a switchback, I looked back and saw Rhode Runner's Chris Fox just behind me and catching up.

The suffering:  Starting with the power line crossing, the path was no longer packed down and it was hard work churning through the deep snow.  I kept Jonny in sight as we ran close to Route 4.  At times I felt I was narrowing the gap on him, but most of the time I just felt like I was stumbling and spinning my wheels.  At least I was putting distance on "frenemy" Chris Fox.  About 3 miles in, we exited the single-track into a field crossing, and the trail became runnable for a short while.   It was here just before re-entering the woods that Jonny passed a guy that had a big "Z" on his back.  That was the last I saw of Jonny.  Back into the woods on single-track.  Slow going but packed a lot more than the Route 4 section.  Not being the sharpest tool in the shed, I slid numerous times on the sides of the trail before finally having an epiphany that trying to run in the center of the packed trail yielded better traction and ergo, better results. 

After a short time, I caught up to Mr. Z and attempted to pass him.  The only way to pass here is to venture into the deep snow, which I did.  As I caught up to him (me in deep snow, he on packed trail), he picked up the speed and with his trail advantage, I couldn't pass him and I retreated back onto the trail, behind him.  Damn!  I resumed following close behind him until a slight downhill where I swiftly went back into the deep snow and near sprinted just to get past him.  As I passed him, I saw he was sporting a Greater Boston Track Club jersey.  By the time we reached the rail bed again, I glanced back and saw no sign of him.

The finish:  The rail bed is much easier running and I am enjoying the respite, until just near the end of the rail bed when I see Mr. Z has caught up to me again.  As we turn off the rail bed and toward the pond, we have a full mile to go, but returning to softer snow is playing to my advantage as I'm able to put distance on him again.  I only ever run these trails during this race series, but I'm starting to see the familiar sights on this final section and each one gives me comfort that I really am getting close to the end.  The final trek around the baseball field is the most difficult section of all and I'm down to a 10-11 minute pace, but the end is within sight.
Literally kicking up snow in the heart-racing
trek around the field
(Photo by Jana)

I finished exhausted, but 7 seconds ahead of Z and another win in my age group.  After catching my breath, I went up to Z to congratulate him and told him I had been fearful that he would catch me and beat me.  He mumbled back something to the effect that "If I were on roads, I would have".  Seriously?  That's your response?  But you weren't [on roads], and you didn't [beat me].  A class in sportsmanship and humility may serve you well on the path of life, young man.
Relaxing / recuperating at the finish line,
with a smile on my face.
(Photo by Becky Galoob)

Final results:  48:17, 7th out of 93.  Full results here.

Unfortunately, I had to leave almost immediately to go watch Matthew's meet (he took a second in division championships 3K with a 9:28), but was super glad I was able to make it.  Thanks again to Mike G and family for putting on this fun event.  My team won overall, as I learned later.  Chris took 1st!, Muddy did really well placing 5th despite not being enamored with snow runs, and Jonny came in 6th, and I came in next in 7th, albeit nearly 2 minutes behind Jonny by the finish.  At this point in the winter, each of you probably hears someone every single day whining and complaining about the snow and winter in general.  I take a different tact in that knowing the reality that the snow cover will be short lived, I want to make the most of it while it's here and will be seeking out more winter runs in the snow.  Rock on friends; it's winter in New England!



  1. Jeff - nice race write up. It was fun to see the race through your eyes. You know you've given it your all when you lie down at the finish!

  2. I can't believe those comments from Mr. Z! Clearly frustrated about his race, but that's no excuse. Glad you toasted him and most of the rest of the field. The Snow Gazelle strikes again!

    1. Thanks Chris. I was looking through pics at the start, and it looks like he was leading the whole race for a bit, so I can understand if he was frustrated, but as you said, no excuse for poor sportsmanship.

  3. Great race, Jeff! Sounds like school was in session! Way to go.