A Swift Skedaddle Through Silverthorne

With a name like, “Swift Skedaddle,” you’d think that the race would be a pleasant jaunt through the park or, in this case, golf course, where it begins. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your particular predilection, you’d be wrong. After all, this course was designed by Danelle Ballengee, the most celebrated of snowshoe racers who made it back this year to compete in the race she started.

The field 75 4K and 10K racers was greeted to a sunny Sunday with temps in the teens and no wind. The Rockies had been the beneficiary of a system of storms that have dumped feet of snow and the course was rather “punchy” with two-day old powder and plenty of technical footing, making passing outside of the tracked course all but impossible. Fortunately, the Skedaddle boasts one of the friendliest of fields, with racers yielding to one another, allowing stronger climbers or descenders to pass with a polite request. Racers even helped one another up when they fell, showing decorum that will hopefully be standard protocol in the sport’s future.

In the men’s 10K the race came down to a final sprint. Tim Hola was in the lead for most of the race, but with about 2K to go Scott Oberbreckling came up on him just as the final well-earned downhill section. Oberbreckling said that Hola was sinking into the post-hole-prone snow more than he was because “I think he weighed more than I did. I tried to pass him on the left in the final stretch but fell. He wasn’t blocking me or anything, just faster.” But it was Jack Hamilton who had what was probably the most impressive performance of the day. The 14-year-old finished third overall, only four minutes back from the leaders. He is likely to make quite a splash at Nationals in March.

Geoff Cooper, who hadn’t done a snowshoe race in years but likes the sport to supplement his cycling and running, at which he’s competed at the international level, found the course challenging. “I heard people talking about it being a ‘technical’ course and figured out what they meant because it really did require a lot of technique. I enjoyed the climbs the most because I seemed more stead on those. The flats and descents had tough footing and the ‘Enchanted Forest’ section and having to crawl on all fours through a culvert seemed like an unnatural route. But they sure were good fun, especially afterward.”

More than 30 volunteers showed up to help marshal racers on the course and racers were treated to a healthy post-race lunch of soups, salad, muffins, cookies, and hot drinks. The course even offered hot Heed at an aid station at the center of the figure-8 course.

The fine race organization and hospitality is, perhaps, a tribute to Ballengee, who passed the race on to the Town of Silverthorne (check) last year, following her harrowing accident in December of 2006, where she fell on a trail run in Moab only to have her dog Taz help lead rescuers to her after spending two nights in freezing temperatures, lying immobile with a broken pelvis.

Ballengee enjoyed her return to the race and said that it is always a fun one because the course offers a little of everything, hills, forest, and diverse footing. Although Taz, who is now four years old, could easily have joined her for the race, he stayed in Ballengee’s truck. “He used to set the course with me and would step on my snowshoes and then wonder why we weren’t moving forward together.”

The race has stayed true to Ballengee’s original, complete with mind-numbing climbs, the culvert crawl, and the often-treacherous Enchanted Forest section, one that 6’4” George Scott, who has returned to the race for many years, might call the “Entangled Forest” the “Entrenched Forest” or the “Entrapment Forest,” depending on how he gets ensnared.

For the race results, visit this link: https://www.snowshoemag.com/raceresults/Skedaddle2008.pdf.

About the author

Adam W. Chase