A new challenge

A new challenge

I tried snowshoeing for the first time last year and found it to be great fun, so I decided I might as well buy a pair of snowshoes. I consulted a friend who I knew had raced in snowshoe events as to which shoes to buy. Of course, there was always going to be a running element – why snowshoe when you can snowshoe run! She suggested the Atlas brand so I bought a pair of Atlas run snowshoes.

Unfortunately, there was not much snow at the start of the season this year so my first time up Grouse was on fairly hard icy snow. They create a snowshoe Grind on Grouse each winter which starts at the top of the Gondola, by the ice rink and heads left of the ski runs up through marked trails. It’s approx 4.6k round trip with approx 340 metres of elevation. You basically run/hike to the peak and then turn around and come back down. So, pretty challenging to get up to the peak and fun but also challenging to see just how fast you can throw yourself back down the mountain. Yes, I do end up on my butt a couple of times with a little sliding – all part of the fun (well, except for those icy times).

So, I decided I may as well enter the Grouse Mountain Snowshoe Grind Challenge. It was a perfect day for it as although not blue skies and the sunshine, it was about 1C and lightly snowing. There had also been a couple of centimetres overnight so it was great to snowshoe on some fresh snow. They slightly adapt the course for the race so that you run down the back of the mountain and come back around onto the route slightly further down. This worked really well so that you didn’t have people coming up and down the steepest part of the route.

It’s quite a small field, with only 66 competitors but still had the excitement at the start as any race does. The field spread out pretty quickly as I settled into a steady pace – well, as steady as you can manage whilst snowshoeing running up hill. As soon as I reached the steeper uphills I was straight to hiking, always the toughest section of the route for me.  However, I was soon at the top and heading down a slightly steep single track – kinda like trail running on snow really so sure some of that learning to run as fast as I dare downhill on the trails helped for this race too.  Got passed by a couple of guys on this portion of the route and even went down briefly a couple of times.  Loved the last part which is wide open and very runnable but had no one immediately in front or behind so just ran as quickly as I could. The last 100metres was tough but I had by this point had a little look over my shoulder to see no-one behind me so I didn’t have to push it to the max.

I was delighted to finish as the first female in 36.43(as well as a little surprised).  There was a lovely spread in the Mountain Lodge afterwards and prizes for each winner in their age group as well as lots of draw prizes.  An extremely well-organized race which was lots of runs and totally a bonus to win.

Janette Purdham
Kintec Race Team

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