A Tale of Two Qualifiers: One in Luck, One in Truck

Two big Superbowls of sport are coming soon. No, not THAT one; it’s over with, and now there is a national shortage of potato chips and other lard based snacks.

Today a Qualifier was held in Luck, Wisconsin, for the Superbowl of Snowshoe races, the USSSA National Championship to be held in Minneapolis/St. Paul on March 10th, 2007.

Also today a qualifier begins in Daytona Beach for the Superbowl of truck and auto racing, the Daytona Speedway events culminating in the famous ‘500.’

It wasn’t that long ago that the crowds for an auto racing event would be no bigger than what is experienced at a snowshoe race today. In Daytona they initially raced on the sand on the beach; no one cared except those early birds who developed a passion for the sport.

Little coverage will be given to the event today in Luck except for the active local newspaper, Inter-County Leader, the U.S. Snowshoe Association, and this special report for Snowshoe Magazine. But those involved carry a big passion for the sport that could be reminiscent of NASCAR’s early days.

Yet, one can argue that what occurred in Luck was more important than what is happening in Daytona. Don’t get me wrong, I love Daytona – I once raced a motorcycle endurance race there until I added a new word to my vocabulary: fear.

Competitive racing on snowshoes has to be the most exhilarating winter sport around, arguably challenged by cross country skiing. The outlay to participate in a race is affordable, the challenge can be downright tough (which is harder: racing with heavy oblong objects on your feet in sub zero degree weather and a north wind or riding around a track in 70 degree air?). Where snowshoe racing wins hands down is that step by step, hill by hill, one is getting healthier, stronger, more fit than a fan sitting on a bench watching. A snowshoer improves the odds of living longer, living healthier each step taken.

As Maynard of ultra trail fame would say, “At least you’re not home watching television, getting old.” Or something like that.

Besides, at Daytona there’s no Café Wren serving its notable ‘creamy Cajun tomato soup’ to the racers. That’s how the name of the club must have come about. . .The ‘In and Out of Luck Running Club’ is ‘In’ good fortune when that delectable blend is available, ‘Out’ when it’s gone. Today’s traditional after-race meal was their special chili blend served in the warmth and comfort of the Oak Forest Center Lodge.

This course, located at the Oak Forest Center between Luck and Frederic, Wisconsin, mostly lies in the woods. The challenge comes from rolling hills and some steep climbs, combined with open areas snowshoeing through meadows. As race director Larry Lindner said, “We don’t claim great geographic features or hill names, but we are proud of our beautiful scenery.”

Besides the 10K National Championship Qualifier, this event includes a 5K race and a 20K length, one of the few of that distance available on snow this season.

The -10 start temperature created a challenging snow called ‘sugar snow’ by local racers as it is dry crystals with seemingly no moisture. It doesn’t pack at all so every step ‘sinks’ unlike running on top of a packed snow on a groomed course.

Competitors raved about the course, calling it ‘challenging but beautiful with gorgeous scenery.’

The 10K USSSA Championship Qualifier was won going away by Brent Kann of nearby Rice Lake in 50:18. The Female winner is National SnowShoe Team Member, Cindy Brochman, finishing in 1:02 even with some lingering toe challenges from last weekend’s Tartan Terrific ‘freezer’ qualifier.

The 20K challenge was taken by Luck resident Eric Olson in the ‘sequence’ time of 2:34. Ultra runner Shelly Wilson of River Falls pressed Eric with a 2:38. Shelly won a place in my heart and in my book “ULTRA SUPERIOR” with some well-timed and chosen words on the Superior Trail Ultras last Fall, helping me cross their finish line.

The 5K was taken by fleet-a-foot Tim Zbikowski, Minneapolis, with a 31:49 while Medford resident Michayla Heil won the Women’s Division at a speedy 33:50.

This Danish community is always ready to enjoy their heritage and catch the unaware off guard. So when you see ‘Slut Kamp’ on their Finish Line Banner, don’t go there with your assumption. . .I know what you’re thinking, but that’s not it. It’s perfectly innocent as two grandmothers searched the Danish language for an appropriate word for the banner, and this is it. Pronounced ‘Slute Komp,’ it interprets as ‘end of competition.’ Does ‘slut writ’ mean end of article?

About the author

Phillip Gary Smith

Phillip Gary Smith, Senior Editor, published "The 300-Mile Man" about Roberto Marron's historic doubling of the Tuscobia 150 mile endurance snow run. He publishes "iHarmonizing Competition" on various forms of competition, including drag racing, his favorite motorsport. Earlier, he wrote "HARMONIZING: Keys to Living in the Song of Life" as a manual for life with chapters such as Winning by Losing, Can God Pay Your Visa Bill?, and a young classic story, The Year I Met a Christmas Angel. His book, "Ultra Superior," is the first written on the Superior Trail ultra-distance events. He mixes writing with his profession--the venture capital world--a dying art. He is a creator of CUBE Speakers, a group espousing themes in "HARMONIZING: Keys" in a unique way. Currently, he has two books in the works.
Write to him at Phillip@ultrasuperior.com, or find him on Twitter or Facebook @iHarmonizing.