Wednesday, April 4, 2018

USA Snowshoe National Championships 2018

The start to the 2018 year of racing has begun and I have been blessed with some strong results.

Snowshoe Nationals was a great event though I dealt with some adversity that kept me from having my true peak performance. Let me explain.

Snowshoe Nationals each year rotates to the various regions throughout the US with this year being a Northeast year and with Bennington, VT as the host site at Prospect Mountain. This was the same site as in 2014 where I made some critical errors going out too hard and coming to a halt at the long 5k climb in the race. That year I finished 18th overall in what still remains as one of the biggest and most competitive fields for snowshoe racing ever assembled.

This year was planning on bringing some top talent as well. Though registrations lingered until the final few days leading up to the race, the 40+ inches of snow was going to make this a unique event for all.

Our plan to head out was near 2 pm to get a jump to enter town early enough to snag some food and rest before the race. Lucky enough that the Men's 10k would not start until around Noon which would give us a nice morning to prep for the run.

On the drive to the race, we hit some bad Friday traffic making the 3:40 minute drive from Princeton to Bennington more like a 5 hour drive. I decided to drive as Myself, my amazing wife Ashlee, my father and our two dogs packed into our car for the trip. The dogs had trouble settling in through most of the drive and we hit some periodic stops to let them use the bathroom.

It was by the time we were near Albany that our one dog Ozzie, was up to no good squirming all around the car. We soon found out that he had to go to the bathroom and bad! A nasty smelled filled the car cabin and I bet you can connect the dots here, Yes, he POOPED in the car. We eventually was able to get to a rest stop as this happened just as I was merging through some of the highway interchanges in Albany which made it a couple miles before we could get off at an exit.

We cleaned things up and then headed to Bennington. We checked into the Paradise Inn and got situated. We were starving and got some food a local brewery. My first mistake was not getting enough food before 2 pm. With only some toast and a little bit of pasta before we left, I was way under-fueled. The mac and cheese I had for dinner began a downward spiral. I had a bad headache and was feeling full but something did not sit well with me.

We were on a bottom floor and some type of raging party was going on up in the room directly above us. We had people screaming in the halls from Midnight all the way up to about 4 am which kept all of us awake. It was not like a little noise but screaming and smashing into walls like their was some type of West Side Story brawl happening all around us!  The hotel was full and had no where else we could go. We talked with the front desk about the noise and felt they did not say anything to the party animals up above us.

I came into this night already depleted and tired and without a good night's sleep, I did not know what would transpire.

We finally were awake at 7 am with our dogs and myself having some bad stomach distress. The food we had last night was not agreeing with us at all.

I was physically prepared for this race and my training was the best leading up to a Snowshoe Nationals. I was ready there. But the pre-race prep leading to the race was nothing but a bum moment.

Why do I love Snowshoe Racing

Running the Ultra Race of Champions in Virginia

I am really excited to announce that I will be racing the Ultra Race of Champions on May 12th at Skylark, Virginia.

The race attracts some of the best talent in Ultrarunning around the country and am looking forward to running with some top talent.

I have been off to a solid start to 2018 with a 2nd place finish at the North American Snowshoe Championships and a 9th US and 10th Overall finish at the Snowshoe National Championships. I have just recently started my Ultra season with a 1st place and Course Record at the Naked Prussian 50 mile near Reading, PA as this was a solid dress rehearsal for UROC.

I want to thank my family, sponsors, and RD-Gill for helping me get to this starting line.

My plan will be to get back into gear and ramp up mileage and vertical to get myself prepared for the rigors of a true #beastcoast course that screams true Blue Ridge Mountain trails!

I am looking forward to what will surely be a great event!

Friday, March 2, 2018

2018- North American Snowshoe Championships 2nd place

Well, my running blog has taken a little bit of a beating with my busy schedule but in 2018, I am looking to make a more conscious effort to report on my races and events this year in a more timely fashion.

I am writing this now as a snowstorm is moving into Binghamton, NY getting ready to give us the last bit of Winter before the Spring season commences. This recap comes on the eve of Snowshoe Nationals that are being held in Bennington, Vermont.

The North American Snowshoe Championships is a race  with rotating sites each and every year. It just so happened that this year the event was to be held at the Cockadoodle Shoe near Plattsburgh, NY, an event I have done a couple times in the past. I love this race and course and was excited to finally get back into more serious snowshoe racing after a two-year hiatus from having a dedicated season.

Weather forecast for the race was perfect Adirondack style: cold, no very cold. Temps hovered around 3 degrees for the Noon start with windchills near -15. Now that is what we call a PARTY!
My wife, Ashlee and our two dogs, Daisy and Ozzy made the trek to the Northern Adirondacks. This was as we trekked from a snowstorm in Binghamton and the NY region which made travel a little difficult but was well worth it the closer we made it to Plattsburgh.

It was a great time hanging out in Plattsburgh pre-race and even getting the chance to see Bob and Denise Dion, owners of Dion snowshoes at the local brew-pub.

The race had a strong field assembled with 2017 World Champion Snowshoer, Joe Gray at the front. I came to this event hoping to just have a fun day and not get too swept up in any pressure to compete a certain way. This more relaxed and easy-going mentality and approach to racing has always boded well for me. It was great to see so many familiar faces before the race and reconnect with runners I have no seen in quite awhile. I was able to hang a little with Mitch and Nick who went to Cortland during my Grad school years and had a full "Send Em" crew for the race.

A nice handful of Team MPF/RNR members were on hand with Elizabeth and Joe documenting the race and taking some killer photos, Ben Nephew, Julian, Jay Lemos  , Jan Wellford who was sweeping the course, and many others.

Myself, Ben and Jay ready to go! Photo Credits: Joe Azze

Check out our team page here:

Here is also A MPF recap of the event:Photos

Sponsor Plug here: If you have not tried Redfeather Snowshoes, you should. I started my Snowshoe running in Dions which are a staple to snow shoe racers the world over. Bob and Denise do a great job! I branched out the next year and became an athlete with Redfeather wanting to try something different and found their shoe design for some reason works magic with my stride. The Company is based in La Crosse, WI which is wear my family on my father's side grew up, hence also a reason to initially support. They are a non-profit company part of ORC Industries and employs many workers with disabilities and learning difficulties and teaches them crucial work skills in the manufacturing and assembly of snowshoes. Pretty cool stuff.

The "Cole Vapor" snowshoe has been a project I have worked with the brand on and man is it an incredible shoe. It is light but not the lightest out there. The V-tail design, deep crampons, and nice surface area of the shoe creates a shoe that glides over deep snow well and allows for my legs to remain fresh for the last kilometers. Check it out at the link below!

The Race ___________________________________________________________________

I took my 1 Boom Gel 15 minutes before the race which is a now staple of mine as I have always felt better with some energy in me close to the race going off. Call it a superstition.

To not see Joe Gray blast off to the front would be suspect as this guy is one of the most decorated endurance athletes around. I cannot keep track of how many USA teams he has been on but between XC, Mountain, Snowshoe, Trail, its like 8-12 teams which is unreal.

The start is very chunky snow and funnels from this open field into the single track. It is by no means a fast start and hearing from Mitch that the trails had some deep spots brought back my last race here 2 years ago where my positive splits from a 21ish 5k had almost a 30 minute second 5k that year.

Joe shot out and took to the lead as the snow was flying everywhere. I took my time not looking to get snagged up in the shuffle. My plan was to remain relaxed and in contact through 5k before making a push the last 5k as the second half in my opinion is harder than the first half.

I made some adjustments and settled behind Mitch, Nick, Ben and Tim which I felt was a good crew to be with. We hung out through the first kilometers and now the fun had begun. I saw that Nick was separating some from the group and then Mitch made a move to close the gap. I looked at my watch and saw the pace fluctuating between 8:30-9 a mile. I felt really fresh and wanted to run near 7:30-8 pace as the second half eats you up and making some time in the beginning helps.

I made a move and then pushed to Mitch. I sat with him and enjoyed the beautiful Adirondack scenery. Mitch let me get ahead and I kept on the tempo increase. Deep in the woods maybe a minute or two later, I came up on Nick. We hung out for some time too before like Mitch, Nick gave me the right-away and I took to the lead. At this point I knew I was in a good position, possibly top 3 which was my "A" goal. I floated through the deeper downhill sections and hung tough on the uphill portions. I was now in that 7:30-8 minute a mile range and took in the sights. This course screams beautiful deep pine woods with sun creeping through the canopy. To me, it is true snowshoe running at its finest.

From the course, what worked well for me was through deep snow, I did not force it. I slowed accordingly to save energy and when the snow conditions improved, I opened it up. As I had separated from Nick and was now on my own, I had thoughts and dreams of pulling up on Joe in the race with 400 meters to go and we would duke it out in an epic snowshoe finish. This did not happen but it was fun to imagine such a scenario. In the moment, I was having a blast. I felt free and was just so overjoyed to be running in snowshoes again in such glorious conditions.

As we crossed the field section, I knew about a mile and a half was left to the race. As the gradual climb from the field started, I was closing in on someone ahead. Was it Joe Gray? I had no idea and put a little surge to see for myself. I soon found it was Julien who has been the Canadian Snowshoe Champion. I eventually passed him as I could tell the early pace for him and the deeper snow here had made him a little gassed. I took to the front and continued on my pace. Maybe Joe was right up ahead.

The Turn_________________________________________________________________________

What happened next was something I never thought would happen. I came from the trail and right before me was some xc ski poles blocking the trail with yellow construction tape as if not wanting us to go straight. With about a mile or so to go left, I stopped and looked at my watch to double-check distance and to make the best decision. We were on the blue trail and the section here was Red at the intersection. i know of this as the main trail where we came from the Start. I thought to myself that surely we would not turn here. But why is this block on the trail here? I had no idea and with such a pivotal decision to be made, I waited. Julien came up to me maybe a minute or so later as I asked him which way we should go. He said without much hesitation to "Go Straight". I asked him if he was sure and I would rather be lost together than all by myself. We went straight and maybe 200 meters in, we saw the red sign. Whew, we made it. I was then able to relax more as we wound back towards the parking lot area and this was indeed familiar to me from past years. I pushed the pace some more and then made that turn into the straight-away which leads into the final straight. Alright, the race was almost over. I came into the final turn exclaiming I feel like I could do this again! I felt fresh and strong which is never the case for me in a snowshoe race.

Great race photos. Credits In tandem Photography

I hit that line and saw Joe there and a bunch of other athletes. Joe asked me immediately that some of them made a wrong turn and asked me which was I went. I told him I waited for Julien and he went straight through the course barricade or block and he said that was the right way. Man what a level of relief. For those that know me well,  I have a long history of missing course markings and in this race, I was lucky to get it right with the help of Julien.

Coming into the finish! Photo Credits Joe Azze

So there it was...Second Place North American Snowshoe Championships. Pretty cool stuff. I never thought I could put up such a solid performance after having many snowshoe races go terribly bad for me as of late. It goes to show that a positive attitude, remaining patient, and letting the race come to you rather than forcing your effort is the key to success in snowshoe racing.

Top 3! Photo Credits Ashlee Prewitt Crosby

Race Results:

This was by far my best snowshoe race to date and a massive confidence booster for Nationals. For the Nationals race I will be running the 10k and Marathon. My goal is to run free, have fun competing, and remain patient and race by feel. I will need to save my legs for the hard climb and run strong and just see what happens. Anything can happen but I hope I can find myself able to have a similar day to that at Cockadoodle shoe.

The Last Bend. Photo credits Joe Azze.

Ashlee and Me! Photo Credits Joe Azze

The Thanks_______________________________________________________________________

Thank you to all of the volunteers, RD Jeremy Drowne, and USSF USA Director, Mark Elmore for putting on a true master-class event.

Thank you to my wife for keeping me company in the freezing cold and watching over the dogs that weekend.

Thank you to Joe and Elizabeth Azze of MPF for being such great advocates of trails and the outdoors and for having me be a part of such a team that is MPF/RNR which is more of a family than anything else.

Thank you to my sponsors:

Redfeather snowshoes for the Cole Vapors which continue to give me incredible confidence on the snow in all of my training and racing.

Janji: Thank you to Owners- Dave and Mike and their team for getting me linked-up with an incredible brand that has some killer apparel that provides clean water to the various countries they craft their apparel around.

Nathan Sports for hydration and other great essentials needed to help me Run Stronger and Run Longer. I will be using a winterized Peak hydration belt for the Nationals Marathon that will be crucial for a solid race.

Team MPF/RNR for the constant support and group of amazing people that allows for us to share our stories and experiences and true love for trails with the rest of the world.

Fits Socks for the best fitting merino wool socks out there. These things are gold for keeping feet dry and warm or cool based on your needs. I raced with the Light short racer sock and it was a dream.

Boom Nutrition for fueling me with the best in natural fruit energy. And they taste amazing because a gel should not be a struggle to take.

To SUNY Cortland XC and Oneonta XC for my coaching stints. Two great programs!

Confluence Running, Finger Lakes Running for being great retailers in the community and ones I have been lucky enough to work at!

Thank you to new sponsor: 361 Degrees USA for providing all of my footwear needs. I am really excited about this new partnership.

Onward to Snowshoe Nationals!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Pine Creek Challenge 100 Mile Attempt. 80 miles finished by 20 miles short. DNF

The Pine Creek Challenge is one incredible race! I came into it as my first 100 miler and was greatly humbled by how the littlest of things can greatly impact your race.
I survived 80ish miles before having to tap out and DNF. I had severe muscle tightness in my quads as early as around mile 15 but thought nothing of it. It was until mile 62 that I could hardly run and was plagued with pretty intense muscle spasms. Nothing improved the situation: massages, salt, food, Hydration. I managed a shuffle up until mile 74 where I think I pulled a hamstring or muscle near there. Then even walking was almost impossible.
I was saved by a kind and generous woman on a bike that went to get help and then proceeded to push me on her bike to get closer to the next aid station with the help of my wife Ashlee Prewitt Crosby and my father who found me out on the trail.
I have left this experience extremely grateful for everyone that has shown true compassion for me. My Best lesson to share with you is to give that compassion back each and every day! You never know when that one kind act could change the life of someone for the best forever!
This race effort was dedicated to my cousin, Addison Haury who has been recovering from a near death car accident and my Best man,
Grant Offenburger who has had his fair share of adversity and challenges. Both of them inspire me.
Thank you to the RD, volunteers, the various people I met out along the trail for your encouragement and help.
Thank you to my crew and family of my Father and my Superstar wife, Ashlee! Thank you to the various companies that support such adventures like this: Janji NATHAN FITS Sock Co. Red Newt Racing Mountain Peak Fitness Boom Ambassador Redfeather Snowshoes Finger Lakes Running & Triathlon Company Confluence Running McDavid USA
I have now learned that to run 100 miles is a long way but it can be done. Run with heart and compassion with each and every step and with a little luck too, you can get to that finish line. I will be back at it again but I think a 50 miler or 100k sounds more like my type of race for now. Keep truckin!

All the Race Gear for 100 miles

Feeling Ready to go!

Beautiful views

Sunday, June 25, 2017

2017 Cayuga Trails 50 Mile: A Series of 5ths. Running on Full!

It is amazing how on some days, things just come together. We can put all of the pressure on ourselves to meet expectations, or we can just be free and truly live in the moment.  My 2017 Cayuga Trails 50 mile race was just me running to run, to finally beat-down a course that has beat me every time I have given it a go. On this one day out of the year, on the 5th time, I overcame all my demons and ended up with my best day yet. This is my story...

To give you a more general idea of my journey up to this point. Here is a quick recap of the past 4 years of Cayuga Trails.

Year 1-(What was I doing? And ankle sprain): I went out with the lead group (Too FAST) and twisted my ankle at mile 18 to suffer through to a top 10 finish.

Year 2-(Ouch Tom B broken ankle into survival): I had some of my best fitness coming into the race and with a near ligament tear, raced injured but hung tough for a 7th place finish.

Year 3 (Let's talk about stress baby): Had electrolyte issues and lost sight mid-race to have tunnel vision for about 3 hours. Dropped at 42 due to warning signs.

Year 4 (Fruit is good, fruit peels are bad): Came into race ready. Had GI issues with fruit peels from breakfast of apples and peaches. Caused body to force it back up and could not keep anything down after that and had to DNF at mile 31.

Year 5...

I came into the race trained but probably the least prepared that I have ever been in terms of peak fitness. It was not as if I wasn't training but I lacked key long runs beyond 20 miles, higher volume of hills, and strong tempos that I had done in years' past. I wanted to have a solid day out there. If that was just to finish, then I would take what I could get.

I ate oatmeal and bananas for breakfast (something I know has done well for me) and had my raspberry zinger tea.
Weather was going to be ideal with temps near 50 at start and 75 by end of day.
I felt rested and nerves were under control.

Pre-race gear:

I had my Vaporkar 4L Vest with Boom Nutrition gels, the Mcdavid Cooling sleeves, Fits Light Runner Low socks, Mcdavid Compression Calf Sleeves, Nathan Emoji Hat, and the Topo Athletic Terraventures

I joined my fellow Red Newt Teammates and other friends out on the trails and foolishly started to push the pace from the gun. I was leading the race with MPF/RNR mate, Ben Nephew as we hit the first big climbs of the course out along the Gorge loop and the stone steps and cascading waterfalls that make this course well-known for. Not my best moment pushing hard from the front and I knew that I could regret this later but proceeded to just go for it.

As we hit the next "New section of trail" that Ian (RD) set-up, I was amazed how rooty and technical this section was. As Ben dropped back (a wise move on his part), Chris Rauli (Eventual Race Winner) and I think Zach Merrin took chase right behind me. We kept together throughout the next aid station and after our first creek crossing, I had to stop to adjust the fit in my Topo Athletic Terraventures. I think I laced them too loose and my feet were shifting around too much so I took the minute to get the shoe re-adjusted. I was now on my own. I proceeded to run alone the next 23 miles enjoying the beautiful morning. I made sure to take down a Boom gel every 40 minutes and took in plenty of ample hydration. I had some bathroom breaks during the miles of 10-16 that made me lose about 5 minutes on Chris and Zach but kept trucking along.

I felt energized and strong throughout these sections. The early pace only started to tax me some around mile 24/25 as Brian Rusecki and Michael Owen came by me up the gorge as I was slowing some and power-hiking.

I took some time at the half-way point to fuel-up and during that time, Matt Flaherty and Zach Merrin came in and out of the aid station. I went out in chase hopeful my brief low patch would be over. And boy it was. I quickly regained my climbing legs and started to crush the next uphill sections. I was hitting them around 7:30 minute mile pace.

I started feeling really good hitting now sub 7 minute miles which at Cayuga have been unheard of for me unless it was the steep downhill. I soon saw Matt F in the distance and caught-up with him. He was having what looked to be a little but of a rough patch for him. I made the pass and kept on the accelerator.

From here on out, I ran the best I have ever run at Cayuga. I tackled the uphills well, ran the descents strong and hammered on the flats. Going up the Lick Brook Climb the second time, I noticed two signs: one for Altra and another for a pie. It was if someone just placed those out there for me. I picked them up and placed them into my pack as I worked-up the climb.

The rest of the race was running strong and feeling full of energy.  There was a few muddy sections that made running fast difficult but besides that, I felt like a man on a mission.

As I hit the last 5k, I knew that there was nothing that could stop me from finishing this race. I hit my last mile (downhill) splitting 5:23 as I hammered into the finish. I had tears of joy as I crossed that line as I had finally tackled Cayuga trails and won! I finished the race 5th ; the best finish that I have ever had at Cayuga trails. I felt incredibly strong 48 miles of the race and ran with the ability to rapidly change my pace at will which was something I had not been able to do in past Cayuga races.

This Photo Says it All!!!!

* I finished the race, about 53 miles on my gps in 7:57 for 5th place. I had run the race smart and hung tough all day long and powered to a strong finish. I never thought something like this would ever happen as I have been plagued with really tough races at Cayuga each and every year. Running into the arms of my Superstar wife, Ashlee was one of the best moments ever. She has stuck it out with me through 5 tough years at this race, waking up at 4 am to get to the event and staying all-day to watch me beat myself up on the course. My success here was a team effort. With the help of my family and crew, the awesome volunteers (especially the BATS aid station), and all of the kind words of encouragement out on the trails, I was able to feel more motivated than ever before.

If at first you don't succeed...
TRY again. 

For me, the 5th time was the charm. On my next race, maybe it will take me 50 times before I get it figured out. That is part of the beauty of running an ultra. 

Congrats to Chris Rauli for running an incredible race out front to take the US Champ title. Well-deserved! 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Herald of Victory Toga Marathon: WR for fastest Marathon in a Toga!

So how do you end up running a Marathon in a Toga?

Great question you ask...

Here is the story...

Start the Year Tough: World Snowshoe Championships and Breakneck Point Trail Marathon

Let us start talking about how the World Snowshoe Championships went.

I was excited for the race in that for the first time it would be held in the US.
Location: Saranac Lake, NY

I was not able to get a ton of time on snowshoes before the race (maybe 2 runs) but felt confident in my snowshoe running ability.

The World Championship course was expected to have record snow. Little did they know, that the week leading into the race, the 6 feet of snow base they had melted to the point where the race almost did not go on.

Now enter the World Championship Snowshoe race as more of a Tough Mudder than anything else.

Race temps were near 60! That's right 60 degrees.

I had a great family support with my delectable wife, Ashlee and my wonderful Father along for the ride. I also had my really cool Redfeather ColeVapor Snowshoes that have my name etched into them.


We were able to have some fun in the Lake Placid area before and even after the race. We went to many of the cute Adirondack shops and was able to get a true Authentic Adirondack Winter Experience.

The race though  was my worst executed snowshoe race of my career. The course was reduced to an 8k and volunteers shoveled what little snow they had around the clock just so the series of races could even go on.

My hats are off to the incredible volunteers, the town of Saranac Lake and US Snowshoe Director, Mark Elmore for putting everything together.

Fast mountain and ultra runners such as Zach Miller and Joe Gray were toeing the line and my hope was to place in the top 15 and maybe even the top 10.

I made the mistake of getting boxed-in at the start as the course funneled runners through a very narrow track. I almost tripped and went to about 50th place. Looking back at the run, I should had remained relaxed and gradually worked my way through the crowd. But instead, I wasted more than my fair share of precious energy to surge back into the top 10 places. I was running through deep mud off of the icy trail path. With each step, mud was being kicked-up and kept hitting rutted-out sections more reminiscent of a potholed road.  I hit hard paces around 6-7 minutes a mile to catch-up.

I soon linked-up with Jared Burdick, a teammate of MPF/RNR and we kept pace together.  I then began to make a move. By the end of the first loop, I was feeling gassed. I tried to hammer the next uphill section but could not. The mud, ruts, and panic of being farther back wore on me. I felt that with ever step, my legs felt like lead, especially my right foot. Jared soon passed me as well as many others.

I laughed after falling face-first into a mud section that have virtual rivers on the once icy trail. I thought to myself, "This is not a Snowshoe race!". I brought it home and finished in 25th place in 34 minutes. I was off from my goal of 15th place and under but I was happy to be in one piece.

As I headed to the car, I later found that I had lost a tailpiece from my awesome Colevapor Snowshoes by Redfeather. I took the shoe out of the bag and chunky mud came right out of the shoe. It turned out that I was running with what felt like a 50 lb weight on my right foot.

This still with a bad race was a great weekend. Teammates: Jared ran to 13th place and Matt Lipsey ran to a stellar 8th place.

To conclude the weekend. All of the power in Lake Placid went out and its was sheer pandemonium in our hotel. We were hit with 8 inches of fresh snow and ice overnight and as the whole town shut down, the only place available for food was at the hotel. It felt like the end of the world but nothing that a few post-race adult beverages couldn't solve.

The next morning we dug out and adopted two adorable dogs: Ozzy and Daisy!  A true adventure that I will never forget.

Team MPF/RNR post World Champ Snowshoe Race. Credits: Ashlee Prewitt Crosby

Breakneck Point Trail Run: Marathon

I finally mustered enough courage to give this race a shot. I had run some of the trails through here and was truly amazed with how unique and challenging they were. This would be a solid rust-buster of a race for me to kick-off my schedule.