Tuesday, March 1, 2011
We’re gearing up for the big snowshoe race. If you look up Pittsfield in Wikipedia, this is what we’re famous for, this and almost nothing else. Entry level is a six mile non competitive fun run, and just to put things in perspective, most normal snowshoe races are six miles at the most.
The mileage options grow exponentially from there, 12, 24, and a few twisted souls are embarking Friday afternoon for the 100 miler, possibly with confetti and C and C Music Factory blasting from the PA system if I have any say in it, and I’ll be there to shoot off the starting gun (which will be my thumb and forefinger and me shouting “boom.”) for that particular division.
A much smaller version of The Death Race will be taking place simultaneously. There is an air of mystery surrounding it. Even the farmers, Liz and Russell, who usually know all the gossip around the farm, haven’t got a clue. There is even some doubt that the race directors, Joe D and Andy the Undertaker, know what exactly will transpire. In fact, I’m pretty sure they don’t.
So we’ll attempt to learn from the past. Last year it was ten or so martyrs, chopping wood, wading through a frozen river carrying ten gallon buckets of water for a mile, attempting to push wheelbarrow fulls of split wood through three feet of snow, drinking a gallon of warm milk in a 33 degree pond while wearing a shirt laced with itching powder, attempting to push the Olympic wrestling captain out of a ring with a floor of snow, all the while enduring the heckling of Joe D himself. And though this was the so called snowshoe division of The Death Race, and the racers carried the appropriate equipment, they were not allowed to wear them once.
I marked the six miles of the snowshoe race last year, so I know from experience that it’s a relentlessly steep three miles up and just as steep down. It twists through confusing, dark, spooky pine glades in between. But despite this, or perhaps because of this, the whole event is a blast with bonfires, cheerful volunteers, food, cows, chickens, moose, and nearly 200 amazing participants. I’ll probably be up for 48 hours straight this weekend and loving every minute of it.