This was my third week running the Beautiful Loop this winter and by far the most difficult conditions. We had received about 8 inches of snow throughout the day on Friday which meant there was limited time for snowmobiles to get out and pack things down for us before we set off at 8:00 AM on Saturday morning. I wouldn't say the soft snow made the run much less enjoyable, it was just a lot more work getting through it, resulting in a much slower time than previous weeks.
I arrived at the Brad a little before 8 to hand off course marking materials to Ryan who was going out to find the right way through Krista's Trail and mark it for tomorrow's snowshoe race, the Bradbury Squall. Chuck and Nate showed up to run the big loop with me, and Joe was there for a shorter run in snowshoes. Although not quite as cold as the previous week, the temperature was still below zero. I quickly realized that running fast to keep warm wasn't an option, but trudging through the soft snow was hard enough work it didn't take long to warm up. Unfortunately it also didn't take long for my the hose of my hydration pack to freeze up. I didn't make any progress with the revisions to my heated hose sleeve so today I duct taped a few handwarmers to the hose. This also was ineffective at preventing freezing. I guess there's not much you can do when it's this cold.
About 5 miles into the run I took off one of my long sleeve shirts and put it back on over my Nathan pack in an attempt to trap some of my body heat and thaw the hose, but it was another 6 miles before the ice in the hose finally melted.
I discovered on this run that snowmobilers don't like to ride single file. In the woods or most of the way along the powerlines the snowmobile trail gets pretty well packed, but any opportunity to break off of the established trail and they seem to take it. This was frustrating for us each time we got to a field or somewhat open area and the track we were on would split into three or four different tracks and the snow in these sections was not packed at all.
Despite the extra effort this run took I felt pretty good throughout, and when faced with the option of bailing out at 14 miles I felt strong enough to turn it down and keep going to get in the full 15 miles.I certainly didn't feel energetic at the end of the run but didn't think that this run took so much out of me that I wouldn't still be able to race well at the Squall tomorrow. The only problem was that the little bit of frostbite I got on my toes the week before seemed to be getting worse, and was pretty painful after the run. Hopefully that doesn't effect my snowshoeing.
distance: 15.01 miles
weather: very cold -5 to +15, mostly sunny
conditions: soft snow, not well packed
gear: Inov-8 Oroc 280 with screws, sock liners, wool socks, tights, 2x long sleeve shirts, t-shirt, 2x buffs, thin gloves, mittens, Nathan HPL#020 hydration pack