Hanging Up the Snowshoes

There are still a few stubborn snowbanks lingering along north-facing overhangs, but around them, the grass is starting to green from the spring rains, and the memories of winter are all that is left.

The beginning of March saw us wrap up our snowshoeing season with the final Mad Trapper of the season, which was the Canadian Championships, and then, six short days later, the U.S. Championships in Minnesota. The Canadian event an extremely hilly course, made extra difficult by a fresh load of snow from a storm the day before, while Maple Grove was the opposite, with perfectly groomed trails running over a fairly flat course. Temperatures were a balmy 10 Celsius, and a blazing sun made for spring snowshoeing conditions.

Sara: My Canadian race didn’t end up happening. I ended up dropping out less than ten minutes into the race, feeling really off, and not up to passing through knee deep snow on top of the already challenging course. Snowshoe teammates Sarah Rowe and Joscelyn Coolican came first and second, respectively, both of them capping off excellent seasons. At the U.S. Championships, things went a little better for me. It was a strong field that went out really fast. By 2km I was dying, so I slowed down and tried to hold on as best I could. I was happy enough to finish around mid-pack, be under an hour, and to hang up the shoes at the end of a tiring season.

Derrick: Some nagging winter injuries left me feeling a little less than confident going into the Canadian Championships. The deep snow conditions and my falling a couple of times in the first few minutes didn’t help my confidence, however the second half of the race was a little more encouraging.

The US Championships proved to be a totally different course and making the switch from slogging through deep snow to trying to hold a fast pace right from the start left me ready to cough up a lung. The competition was great and I was happy to finish the season upright, although maybe a little slower than hoped.

Now, after three months of running almost exclusively on snowshoes, it is an adjustment running on road and trail again. It’s starting to come together, and though we’re not feeling particulary fast, there’s a strength from snowshoe running that feels like something to build on.

Next year, were looking forward to combining two winter loves, with a Dogsled and Snowshoe Winter Camping Trip. The huskies are already dreaming about it, and so are we! We’d also like to take part in one of the longer snowshoe races in the area, like the 6 Hour event in Rochester, or the Pittsfield Marathon in Vermont. Something about running a marathon on snowshoes is very appealing, and we’ve heard great things about this race.

Thanks for reading, and have a great summer! Special thanks to Ryan Alford for all his hard work and dedication to Snowshoe Magazine over the years.

About the author


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.