The club for runners in Saratoga Springs, NY

New Year’s Day Celebration at Hilltop Orchards

03 Jan 2017 4:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
by Laura Clark

    Most folks visit apple orchards in the autumn, but we snowshoers have chosen to wait until leaves have fallen, snow has covered the ground and those delicious juicy globes have been transformed into mash, donuts and apple pies.  Did we get things right or what?
     Shades of Second Christmas Day Woodford  --  there certainly is something special about getting together with friends the day after a major holiday when the rest of the world is hibernating and recovering from the previous night’s celebration.  Such was the case at the Hilltop Orchard/Furnace Creek Winery Snowshoe.  A select group of Dion snowshoers who prioritized starting off the first day of the New Year by placing a solid checkmark next to their inevitable healthy living resolution were rewarded not only with a great course but also with libations and goodies to enjoy in front of a roaring fire.
    Those who have enjoyed this venue in previous years may remember the in-and-out maze that weaved between the orchard trees and into the woods and the course marshals who performed multiple roles skiing and beating us from point to point.  No more!  For this year’s addition, the CRNA folks extended some of the cross country trails so there were no confusing multiple guess intersections.  This lengthened the route to slightly under four miles, with a thoughtful opt-out timed option at the 3K point.
    I almost took them up on it, except slightly earlier.  After the first few steps, I wondered if I could credibly drop out.  I had had serious dental surgery that week and my legs felt totally rubbery after a few days spent on the couch with an icepack.  Sort of the way your legs feel after getting off the bike portion of a triathlon and taking those first tentative running steps. 
    What saved me was the book I had read during my convalescence, For the Glory:  Eric Liddell’s Journey for Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr. While we all recognize Liddell as the Chariots of Fire hero who refused to run his scheduled 100 meter heat on a Sunday and went on to a spectacular gold in his last-minute 400, for most of us that is where the story ends.  But it encompasses so much more than that.  Liddell became a missionary, returning to his birthplace in China where his tireless work in a Japanese prison camp would have earned him sainthood in some other religion.  Reminiscent of Unbroken, he preserved, making a difference in so many lives. 
    Not that running a snowshoe race comes close, but I remembered his determination in the prisoners’ sports competitions even when he was dying of cancer, and kept at it.  Eventually, I felt better and found my own running pack, outstripping them on the downhills and then losing ground on the ups.
    Out of the woods and heading for home in the orchards I encountered another courageous figure—Chloe, an eleven year-old Newfoundland, striding deliberately along.  Chloe has exceeded the normal lifespan of her breed and was still going strong as a 77 year-old age-graded contestant, earning the title of First Dog.  The only thing missing was a keg of brandy which I sorely needed at that point.  But the finish line at Furnace Creek Winery was close enough.

Copyright Saratoga Stryders, 2020
The Saratoga Stryders, a 501(c)(3) affiliate chapter of the Road Runners Club of America. P.O. Box 1467, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

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