U.S. Snowshoe Championships

The 2006 U.S. Snowshoe Championships were a fun way for us to cap off our snowshoe racing season this year, and also celebrate Derrick’s 40th birthday. Derrick was sick for over a week leading up to the race, but he felt well enough to go, so we loaded up “Floyd the Forester” and headed to lovely Vermont.

Bolton Valley Resort was a beautiful and challenging venue for the race. As the gun went off, the 156 pairs of snowshoes thwacking the snow was deafening as we headed up the mountain. The first two kilometers were all uphill, and then we hit rolling single track for another two kilometers, before finally giving our gasping lungs a break with a long downhill section. This was the most technical section of the trail however, with lots of gullies to jump over and muddy sections to plow through. The last couple of kilometers were back on wide groomed trail, but again all uphill. By now the temperature was well above freezing, so the slushy snow made the last climb even more challenging. It was a tough course, but run-able, fair, and a great test of fitness.

The men’s race was won by Greg Hexum of Minnesota, with Paul Low of Massachusetts in second and Bill Raitter of Colorado in third. The women’s top three were Kasie Enman of Vermont, Kelli Lusk of Massachusetts, and Laura Wheatley of Colorado. Even though it is the U.S. Nationals, the USSSA graciously allows international runners to attend. Canada, Mexico and France were all represented.

Derrick cracked the top third of the pack overall, a great result coming back from injury and then being sick the week before. On the women’s side, I finished in eighth and feel good that I kept my focus for the entire race and gave it all I had on the day. I haven’t felt that in quite a while, and was reminded of how rewarding racing is when your head is in it. So often the placing and time are never “enough”, but the feeling of giving your best effort is very satisfying.

The next morning, we got up early and donned our snowshoes to take advantage of our last opportunity to play in them this winter. The trails were gorgeous, and we had a memorable birthday run in the snowy mountains before heading down to spring, and for home.

Complete results and photos can be found at www.snowshoeracing.com.

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About Sara Montgomery and Derrick Spafford

Derrick and Sara are trail runners from Eastern Ontario who discovered that running on snowshoes in the winter months is a great way to enjoy their favorite trails year-round. They competed in their first snowshoe series (The Mad Trapper Series in Low, Quebec) in 2005, each finishing 2nd in their respective divisions. Plans for 2006 are to return to the Mad Trapper, to take in some races in New York and Vermont, and hopefully cap their season with the U.S. Snowshoe Championships in March, as Canadian guests. Derrick runs a company, Spafford Health and Adventure (http://www.healthandadventure.com), which specializes in coaching and event promotion. He is currently planning an annual snowshoe race to be held in the Kingston area, starting this winter.