Saturday was the Colorado State Snowshoe Championships. This race was a USSSA qualifier where you had the chance to qualify for the National Championships in Ogden, Utah in March. Qualification standards were either:1) Top 10 USSSA member in the race (for your gender) OR 2) Top 5 USSSA member in your age group OR 3) your time was within 130% of the winner in your age group

Steve drove all of us up to the race located between Leadville and Vail (at the Ski Cooper Nordic Center). He did a great job driving! Steve, Sara and I were there to try to qualify for Nationals, and Andrea and Tyler were there to compete in the 5K for fun. We won't know until Wednesday just exactly who qualified for Nationals, so I'll post again then with an update. Without further chit-chat here is my race report.

Pedal Power was hosting this race, and he tends to credit himself on hard, technical, powdery races. This race was all of that, plus some. In the short warm up I did I noticed that from the start line we would take a rather quick left turn onto a powder section and surely a traffic jam would result. I decided to get on the left side of the starting line, and I decided to go out hard so that I wouldn't get stuck behind too many people. I would rather have people pass me later in the race, then have to fight my way around people. Well my plan worked and I made that turn in the top 15 overall, and 2nd woman. But, a huge dog pile still happened. People were trying to cut around other people and were just acting generally crazy. Lots of people fell down and scraped each other up. I ended up with several bloody battle wounds on my ankles from other peoples snowshoes, but...what's a little blood? Builds Character.

Anita Ortiz passed me, and then not 3 minutes later took a huge faceplant in the powder. I tried to avoid her by veering right, into even deeper powder and did a nice face plant myself. The guy behind us, named Case, ran into us and fell down too. I couldn't help but giggle, we must have looked like a bunch of drunk idiots! I got up the quickest and was ahead of Anita...for another 2 minutes until she passed me again. Then she TOOK OFF, and I never saw her again. Case also passed me and had a great race today finishing super strong. I kept plodding through the SUPER DEEP POWDER course, doing my thing. Every so often I would get passed. I was feeling pretty good, and pretty consistent. People passed me, and I passed people. I took several more spills. When we hit the few groomed sections, I was able to pick up speed and really hammer it down, but in the powder I was reduced to walking a lot of the time. I didn't wear my watch (it broke in the last race) and so I had no clue how far into the race I was, and it was a good thing because the course was long.

About 3/4 mile before the finish I got passed by a lady. I knew it was Katie Mazzia. She has been 3-4 minutes faster than me for most of the Beaver Creek races, so I tried to hang onto her. I passed her back on a groomed section. Then she passed me back on another powder section and took off. She is so strong and doesn't seem to sink in the snow AT ALL. Crazy! She just floats along effortlessly in the powder. The last section of the race was a brutal mind game. You knew you were close to the finish and you were on a groomed trail (ahhhh), but the course took you off the groomed trail and made you run in the powder RIGHT NEXT TO THE GROOMED TRAIL. After a LONG 10K course you were so ready to just be done with it, but you had this last section of powder. Painful! The finish was an uphill finish and I managed to run it all, but it hurt and the only thing that stopped me from walking was pride!

The really cool part of the race was afterwards. This year the snowshoe community seems really close (or maybe I am just actually a part of it this year). The post race meal was great and we got to take over this awesome Nordic Center at Ski Cooper. Everyone was chatting and enjoying themselves. I met some new people and talked to a lot of ladies that I idolized last year. Funny how things come around! It was nice to feel part of the community and to know that people recognize me and actually want to make connections. Very fun!

I ended up as 4th woman, so I definitely qualified for Nationals. It looks like lots of people will be heading up to Nationals this year. I think the race is going to be great, and so much fun! I can't wait! I think my time was somewhere around 1:31:30. Something like that, so definitely a long course!

I will post Wednesday with the qualification results.