A lot of people showed up at Mt Norquay ski hill in Banff National Park on the morning of March 3, not with skis in hand, but with snowshoes and smiles.
It was the third annual Blitz Snowshoe Fun Run, which was, once again, a big success. The run offers both a five and 10 km course with bragging rights for the winners and a lot of draw prizes to encourage people to try out the fast-growing sport of snowshoe racing here in Alberta.
The morning brought mild temperatures, light snow and a lot of snow coverage, perfect for the exciting course which had a lot of variable terrain including twisting uphills, bridges, steep downhills, single track in deep snow in the forest and a large flat start and finish which was shared with resort skiers, a challenging course indeed!
The Norquay Blitz is the only snowshoe-racing event in Alberta so far according to Tricia Kawahara, Blitz Fun Run event coordinator. It started with 50 participants in the first year and has grown to 75 this year but big plans are in the works.
“In 2013 we are planning a snowshoe series,” says Tricia. “Hopeful locations, besides Mt. Norquay, include Chateau Lake Louise and Fortress in Kananaskis Country. Athletes can participate in one, two or all three events with five and 10 km courses at each location and series winners’ prizes but, overall, a lot of draw prizes as we like to keep the ‘Fun Run’ the focus in order to draw families out and those who are new to snowshoeing.”
Most participants are local hailing from Calgary, Red Deer, Banff and Canmore with 80 percent of the racers new to the sport. However, that may change as the event grows next year.
This year’s winners were Michael Hamilton (47:37 time) in the 10 km division and Penny Lawless (35:59 time) in the 5 km race. But judging from the smiles at the finish line, there were a lot of other ‘winners’ with personal firsts or bests!