Interview With Steve Beardsley: 2005 National Snowshoe Championships’ Chief of Course

I first met Steve Beardsley at the state Special Olympic Games. My first and lasting impression of Steve was that of competence, experience, and know how.

I asked for his assistance with organizing the 2005 National Snowshoe Championships at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska, set for March 5. He graciously accepted. Steve has taken on the role of chief of course with special attention to course design.

The following interview with Steve details his background and describes current tasks undertaken to prepare for the Championships.

*How long have you worked at Kincaid and with the Anchorage Parks and Recreational Department?

I have been a Kincaid supporter since the 70s, both as a user and a volunteer within the park on a year round effort. It is a great asset to Anchorage as a regional part, state and national, and for its international merit. I’ve worked with Nordic Ski Club on trail building and maintenance, National and International Ski Races in Nordic and Biathlon. Plus, I’m a strong supporter of the Tuesday Nite Running Series for more than 20 years as a back of the pack and course designer.

*What obstacles are involved with designing and setting a snowshoe race-course at Kincaid?

A snowshoe course at Kincaid presents a challenge in that a single track, non-machined groomed area is difficult to find. Even with 1,400 acres of land within the park, “wild” areas are in the more distant parts of the park. The Archery Range has just what the organizing team wanted. Some machined groomed with climbs, some flat groomed, twist and turns within a single track over hills and dales, and some good climbs. I think this course will challenge a runner’s snowshoeing ability both technically and athletically. It will star Kincaid as yet another venue site for the quiet sports.

Kincaid has such a diverse area that the designing aspect is fun, having it comply with the snowshoe racer has been a challenge. While some might really like machined groomed trails that are wide and smooth, others like to single track full of twists and turns and ups and downs. Melding these together can be complex, but I think this course might just do it.

Setting the course before the event will be an undertaking. The customary flagging will be used to seal off certain areas and intersections, wood lathe with signage of arrows, color coding, and course marshals out in the woods. It’s important to leave untracked areas…untracked, but give the necessary directional markings. The main ingredient to preparing the course is putting enough directional markings in critical areas. Volunteers are an integral part of course selection – checking racers both for staying on course and safety for all. Racers will be treated to the best we can do, but racers have responsibility also to know the course with self-inspection, map reading and asking questions before the race. The ultimate end is up to the racer.

*What other obstacles might the Chief of Course encounter?

Big snowfalls, high winds, rains, no snow, downed trees, and of course Kincaid moose. Not to mention, earthquakes, and volcano eruptions. Both have occurred during or before a race.

*What needs to be done to prepare the race-course and Kincaid for the 2005 National Snowshoe Championships?

We will be doing course preparation during the fall with brushing areas within the woods that are overgrown with alders and devil’s club. And, we will be pursuing winter work with base preparation and snowshoe grooming.

*What can the community do to help?

Get involved with organizing the race. Sponsor the National Championships and/or the Regional events. And of course, participate as an athlete or come cheer on the snowshoers competing in the elite adult, junior, and all comers divisions.

Alaskans can qualify through regional races hosted in Fairbanks and Girdwood. For more information: Contact Julie Udchachon (local race coordinator) at or call 907-230-1572 and leave a message.

See for national coverage of the Nike ACG National Championship Series.

About the author

Julie Udchachon

Julie is the founder and director of the Alaska Snowshoe Club.