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2014 Horsehill Snowshoe Race – Merrimack, NH

Horsehill. With a name like that, I should have known that I was facing a course full of ups and downs. This 7K course was a beast. Tons of tight turns, steep inclines, and 95% of it was single track through powder. I found myself catching hold of trees as I tried to stay on course racing down the hill and around corners. Check out the course below:

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Horsehill is the fourth race in the 2014 Granite State Snowshoe Series. I entered the series on a whim to keep the winter training fresh. I ended up with for than I bargained for. This sport is tough and the athletes are fierce. Being a runner definitely helps your performance, but there isn’t a direct 1:1 correlation. Snowshoeing is a different animal.

horsehill4That being said, it would be hard to find a winter sport that is more beautiful than running through single trails in the snowy wooded hills. The quiet swoosh of the powdery snow (and the labored breathing of the athletes) is the only sound you’ll hear. After competing in only a few races, I can already see the attraction of trail running. The purity of the sport is alluring.

Horsehill covers 4 miles of single trail in the Horsehill Nature Preserve in Merrimack, NH. The race is managed by 3C Race Productions. Snowshoe races are minimalist by design, but a few things are very important: runner registration, timing and results, and course markings. Mike Amarello’s company did a fantastic job in all three areas. Registration was quick, results were posted online by late afternoon, and orange spray paint clearly marked the way for runners out on the course.

If you are interested in trying the sport, the entry fees are cheap and you’ll always leave with a story to tell. You can rent a pair of snowshoes at the race if you don’t have any of your own. I run with Crescent Moon snowshoes, but there are many good options on the market. If the snow is deep and powdery, you may also want to consider a good pair of gaiters. Give it a try!

Next up is the Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race on February 15th.

Thoughts?