MAD TRAPPER RECAP
Rick Hellard (General Comments)
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Having read Mike Caldwell’s report on the Mad Trapper, I thought I’d offer some insider points of view of how the front of the race developed on the weekend.
Mike had told me Lawrence had brought a guy with him who was pretty quick. I figured if Lawrence thought he was quick, he was someone to watch. I also noticed Derrick Spafford on the start line. Derrick is from Kingston and kick my butt in a 5k two years ago, so he was also someone to watch.
We stood underneath the Pecco’s pop-up tent waiting for the start. Right away, Lawrence went to the front and pushed the pace up the first hill. I followed Mcamaniac’s advice and “let him lead”. Not that I had much of a choice: Lawrence hammered up the first hill and I really had no choice, but I’ll use that as a reason for running in second spot for the first kilometer or so. Once over the top of the first hill, Lawrence was comfortable enough to actually take his eyes off the trail and look around to see who was still with us. With all the twists and turns, there was no way I was not looking where I was going.
On the first really steep and windy descent, about 3-4min in, just after Lawrence looked back, he lauched himself down the hill and opened up a gap. I tried to stay in control but could not. Fortunately, there were no trees close by and I was able to regain my composure and work my way back up to him. I realized if we were still together at this point on the second loop, this spot would be a very tactical one.
We wound up and down an all around for a few more minutes then popped out into an open field near Mike’s neighbour’s house. Finally, I could take my eyes off where I was going and look to see who was on my tail. It was, I was to learn, Doug Mahoney.
That’s when I tripped for the first time.
I fell, rolled with it and lost a spot, which amounted to a blessing in disguise. You just never know.
Lawrence was still in the lead when we took a wrong turn out of the field. After 3-4 steps, we realized it was the wrong way. I became the leader, Doug was in second, and Lawrence was third.
Then we hit the icy patch in the trees. Being in front was a great advantage as I could see where I was going and what was coming. Lawrence, on the end of the line, apparently had some issues on this section (aka a fall or two) and we gapped him. I figured if he was still stuck in the trees on our next lap, we’d stop and help him, but not until then J.
We wound through the next part of the course without incident (okay, one more fall) and on the last hill of the loop, I powered up over the top and tried to gap Doug. It worked and I got about 5 seconds on him as we headed up the first big hill on the second lap.
Kaz the wonder dog was hanging around the start/finsh area for Mike the wonder master to finish his first lap. Now, Kaz is a pretty friendly dog and wanted to play, so she jumped on the back of my snowshoes on the steep part of the hill. I almost came to a full stop but managed to keep moving forward. Unfortunately, the 5 second advantage I had built up evaporated and we were back together.
I began to feel pretty weak on the up hills and figured the best way to make this work was to relax on the ups and hammer the crest and beyond of every hill we had to face. I continually opened a small gap which Doug was able to close again on the next hill. Eventually, I did manage to get about a 10 second gap and thought the day was done.
Then we hit the ice patches in the trees again, where I had done so well on the first lap. I tried to accelerate throught his section only to find myself out of control many, many times. I missed corners and slammed into trees, threw myself forward by pulling myself forward from the trees. Anything to keep going forward. Unfortunately, my lackluster performance on the ice was enough for Doug to catch back up to me. Lawrence was not stuck in a tree, so I focused on the positive: “I dropped him on the last hill of the first lap, I can do it again.” It turns out the small cramp-ons of my snowshoes broke off during the race and this may have contributed to my out-of-control tree slamming incidents.
I gradually began to feel less and less spunky on the multiple uphills and started to re-think my impending strategy. Okay, I was apprehensive. I’ll admit it.
One advantage of being in front on single track trail is that you get to set the pace. If it hurts, you can always back off a bit. The effort and risk of trying to pass is monumental, so the chances are the follower will stay where they are.
I looked at my watch. It read 55 minutes. Our first lap was 29:57 and there was a small loop around the Ark we did not have to do on the second lap, so I knew we only had about 4min to go, and the last minute would be downhill. And I hate sprint fnishes.
I decided to push as hard as I could without falling on the gradual incline leading up to the final 200m hill, which is quite steep. I thought that I might be able to take the sting out of his legs before we hit the steep part. That’s a catch 22 because it could hurt me a lot as well.
Doug was right on my heels but I knew he would not dare to pass at that point: it was uphill and he’d have to break trail. It would be suicide.
As the steep part of the hill subsided, I knew there was only 200m to go and it was downhill. I dug as deeply as I could and mustered an acceleration. I can’t say it was very effective as Doug stayed glued to my heels until the bottom of the hill.
The singel track opened up into the field that doubles as Mike’s ‘backyard’ and the Pecco’s pop-up tent was the finish line. Doug was swinging around to my right and we both sprinted for all we were worth for the line.
And then a dog got in the way. We both had to adjust our line of travel, effort and posture a bit, but I think equally so for both of us.
I thought the first set of legs of the pop-up tent was the finish line and was the first one there by half a body width. I let up a bit when I realized the ‘judges’ were at the second set of legs. I was already in shutdown mode but pushed hard for one last step. It’s only eight feet between the posts, so there’s no time to make any corrections. By the time we hit the second set of legs, we were dead even. Three judges could not tell the difference and neither could we. It was a tie.
Congratulations to Doug for a very hard fought and well run race. That’s what racing is all about.
Congratulations to everyone an good races and a great attitude. What better way to spend a morning. Okay, so there are better ways, but you get the idea.
Rick Hellard email@example.com www.zone3sports.com