I had one more morning run to go on before we would make the trip to Myoko.
Unique markings on the sidewalks
After having the opportunity to explore some of Tokyo, it was now time to hop on the bus and head to the race site in Myoko: a 3 hour + drive west into the mountains.
Before we made our trek, there were reports that the snowshoe course was drastically altered due to low snow conditions. The course originally 12k and would go up a mountain, was now a 9k around the snowy golf course trails. This area is known to get some of the largest snowfall totals in the world so how bad could it be?
We loaded up onto the bus and then headed out for our adventure. It was great to spend time with everyone from the team. We had periodic rest-stops that was the true Japanese version of the American truck stop. These rest areas though had so many different markets and places to purchase food. I had some pizza and some other cool items.
As we drove through the country-side, it was amazing to see how different the mountains actually were. They mountains in Japan that we saw looked sharp and edgy like the spine of a dragon. We eventually could see mountains with snow and that shined a glimmer of great news that we would in fact be having a snowshoe race.
We arrived to the race village in the late afternoon and then headed to our respective lodges. Ashlee and myself along with half of our team was staying in the Lime Resort. This resort was very modern with an indoor Onsen (natural hotspring) in the basement. Let me tell you that Japan is known for their onsens and man are they awesome. This would quickly become Ashlee’s favorite part of the trip.
Welcome to the Lime Resort! It had a very nice tranquil layout! Our rooms had the traditional Japanese set-up with beds on the floor and nice pitched wooden ceilings. We had a nice dinner at the hotel and settled in to check out the race site the next morning for the opening ceremonies. The hotel was super nice and the onsen in the basement became a must use thing for my wife, Ashlee. She loved the tranquility and peacefulness of the onsen. I think of it as a zen bath, one that allows you to relax both physically, mentally and spiritually.
The amount of snow around the area was some of the highest amounts of snow that I have ever seen! We were definitely having a snowshoe race!
With the course change-I soon learned that the 9k course would be out along a rolling golf course which has been a nice type of course for me in the past.
I have never run a snowshoe race in the rain. This one had it! With a dream-team assembled for the USA, we had the best chance to go for the Gold! The wet and heavy snow conditions were going to be tough and by running a smart and tactical race, the chance to move up in the field would be there. From the start, I was able to get out into a decent position. I targeted Eric Hartmark as someone to key off of and I could see that I was hovering around 10th place. The snow was kicking-up everywhere and my biggest mistake was not wearing sunglasses as this would have shielded the snow from getting into my eyes. The effort felt hard and exhausting. I really struggled to get into a nice pace. With every step, I felt like I was pulling 100 lbs sleds on my feet. The first lap was tough as I made moves in the 2nd 3k loop. I was hoping that I could close well in the third lap.
It was by the second loop, I had kept my position but was running out of power. I then slowed for 2k before getting the wheels going when Julien and Matt came up on me. Having both of them push me, gave me the motivation to not just pack in the race, but rather push to the finish. I came into the final spring and got tripped up by another competitor and finished in 16th place. It was not what I was hoping for-but overall it was a solid effort on the international stage. Our Men’s team netted the Silver Medal with some solid top 10 finishes from Joe Gray, Eric Hartmark and Jeff Deveries (who had a stand-out performance). Our ladies squad took home the Gold with Michelle Hummel winning the World title and Sarah Canney taking a 3rd place. Spain won the Gold for the Men which was a bummer but our team will be back to get dual Golds in 2021 in Argentina.
Racing international can be a challenge and for me-I felt flat. I think some of the switch of eating different food than to what I am used to did not bode well for me to have the explosive energy I needed to perform at the highest level. A lesson I will take with me for next time!
The rest of the trip was amazing! From hanging out with our team and having great convos with Joe Gray, and getting to experience Japan together, it will be a trip I will cherish forever.
Snowshoe running is an incredible sport! I look forward to seeing it grow in the upcoming years. I hope that the sport attracts new athletes and grows in diversity in terms of countries that participate as well as with racial diversity for people of color. Running on snow is cool and something our youth could experience and see that this sport has great potential to enrich their lives. One of my future projects will be to help grow diversity and inclusion in the sport and look forward to what the future holds for us all.