LooseCrew-JeffO: Turquoise Lake 20M Snowshoe 2009


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Turquoise Lake 20M Snowshoe 2009

This was my last race as a 48-year-old kid.

This is a HARD race!

Last Sunday, I took off the bindings on my snowshoes and attached a worn-out pair of Salomons.
I sprayed the undersides with Dupont "Performance" Teflon grease. I use this as chain lube on my Trek, but it worked great the entire race to keep snow and ice from clumping. I didn't have to stop even once to chip it off like I did constantly last year.

I wore Drymax Maximum Protection socks underneath, and Hyperlite Stormsocks GoreTex socks over them. Both were brand new.
This worked well as we ran towards the lake.
Unlike last year's white-out, this year was just a regular storm, with snow and high winds. We could see the shores, most of the time, and there was no chance of getting lost.
On the lake, there were a few "ponds" of slush that couldn't be avoided. The worst ones were over the tops of my GoreTex socks. So my great socks system simply filled up with water less than two miles into the race. The water was so extremely cold that my toes were instantly numb. Several seconds later, though, warmth crept back in.
Then there was the second pond - even worse. OMG. I was seriously wondering if I'd have to DNF to save my toes.
But eventually the water-filled GoreTex socks acted somewhat like a wet-suit that divers use. It felt cold, but not dangerous. As long as I kept moving, I'd be fine.

I started out too fast. I haven't been training or racing for most of the past three weeks, so I was out of shape. My pace was WAY too fast. It triggered the usual pulmonary edema and I was coughing before I was half way across the lake.

We were traveling straight into a strong face-wind. I don't know what the temps were, nor the wind-chill, but it was COLD! I'm guessing there were shaded pockets around 0F. Add wind and fatigue.

Wow, was it beautiful. The gusting snow made it more beautiful. The sun occasionally poked out, but mostly it was cold. Once we passed Mayqueen CG, it was several miles of deep-freeze that the winter sun never reaches on the shady side of Sugarloaf Mtn.
My shoes were severely frozen. I had ice inside them that kept rubbing my ankles uncomfortably. There was no way to adjust them or empty them on the course.

I was very sore before the race was even half over - and it just got worse.
We spread out a lot. I was surprised that I was still able to run intermittently and regularly. I was not making good time. I had trashed my race at the beginning going too fast. Problem has been, I've been too meek and started back with very slow people and then I have to inconvenience several runners as I pass. So I wanted to be, not at the front, but near the same percentage area that I tend to finish.
Well, they were too fast! There were so many amazing racers. Keri Nelson was there. She won the Leadville Marathon - ahead of the 1st-place male. So no surprise that she came in 2nd today. She and the 1st-place male actually ran most of the race together. Unfortunately, her snowshoes were 2" under regulation length. But everyone cheered her amazing performance anyways.

There were quite a few who had to quit, and some that didn't make the 7hr cut-off. This is such a very hard race. Racing 20 miles, with climbs, exposure to frigid winds and temps and water, you have to be an experienced outdoors person. There were even a few experienced people who flat-out said they'll never run it again. There were tears and moans. This is harsh.
Races like this draw a rare breed of creature that thrives on extremes. I think many passed their limits, while others managed to stay barely within them.

I had a great time.

It took me about 10 minutes to get my frozen snowshoes off my feet. it took another ten to get my frozen ankle zippers undone to take off my tights. Something needs to change, but I'm not sure what.
Many tried bicycle over-rubbers, but those add weight and don't keep the water out. So they ended up with ice underneath. None of the people who tried them liked it.
Some others also tried GoreTex socks, and like me theirs filled up but acted like wet-suits - cold but not dangerous.
Some used duct tape, some bags. I'm not sure what I'll do next year. Maybe I'll duct-tape bread bags over my shoes up to my calf - at least until I get across the lake.


At 6:38 AM, Anonymous Audrey said...

oh my god. 20 miles in snowshoes??????? i raced 3.5 miles last year and wanted to throw up as i was getting passed left and right (i raced in vermont and thought they should have a special category for out of staters...we were a pathetic bunch!!!). i have the same problem with my snowshoes...no way to keep the feet dry. i can't believe your race was so long with cold feet!!!

At 6:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff!
Great job out there yesterday. I came across your blog when looking for the results. Sorry it didn't go quite as planned, but it is such a demanding race that to just be out there is a feat! Sorry I didn't get to chat more on my way out. See ya at some others for more fun!

At 9:49 AM, Blogger JeffO said...

Audrey - I'm glad you gave it a try. I should have started with something shorter, but I gravitate to the long stuff.

Keri - Good to see you again. I missed you at Rim Rock - great job winning that. You're very inspiring.

At 7:44 PM, Blogger Talon said...

I remember that lake slush all too well! Blech! I absolutely love that race! Such a fun one, and when you're done you feel like you TRULY accomplished something. LOL Great job!

At 11:07 PM, Blogger RunColo said...


I was reading Richard Paradis race report and he said doing that 20M was harder than an Ironman!



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