Sarah Gall Steeplechases Snowshoes in Iowa State Championship

In this third year of the Iowa State Snowshoe Championships, the Gall’s dominance continues as Sarah (see picture), 28, once again proved a formidable force. Husband Scott, U.S. National Team member, needed to fulfill an obligation with their church and was out of town for the race, leaving Sarah with the duty of upholding the family honor.

Back in college, Scott did the snowshoe world a huge favor, and, well, himself too, when he introduced steeplechase racer Sarah to the world of ‘running on (frozen) water’ as Coach Ilg would write in his books. “It was at Beaver Creek, Colorado,” Sarah explained, “when I first put on snowshoes. I was with Scott and other friends and, initially, I didn’t like it. I fell, I tripped, I crossed snowshoes over one another . . .” Her North American Track Championships experience and specialty, steeplechase runs, paid off. “I began to learn the techniques, for example, like taking shorter strides up hills.”

Perhaps all could use their advanced technology available at the Runner’s Flat, the Gall’s warm wood loft warehouse athletic store they created for the Cedar Valley area of Iowa. Featuring all things snowshoeing, like Atlas snowshoes, Tubbs, and Crescent Moons, plus anything one needs to compete outdoors (running shoes comes to mind), they’ve also introduced a unique technology called “Sports Motion Systems.” SMS gives athletes a more comfortable match of footwear and physiology, with the resulting comfort and fit leading to better results.

Steeplechase racing on snowshoes doesn’t necessarily have open water, and jumps tend to be over fallen logs, but the appliance on the feet and the comfort of the fit will certainly make a difference.


Held at the Hartman Reserve Nature Center, Cedar Falls, Iowa, and unlike a race in the past with high wind, low temperatures and the resulting big chill, the third year proved a charm as warmth enveloped the area. The snow hung around to provide a snowshoe race, but created a challenge for the racers as not only was it a ‘sugar’ consistency, but in some areas ‘slick and icy’ were better descriptions. After the Championship event, Mother Nature blasted the area with a big storm.

Bill Randall won the overall race gold in 34:09, more than two minutes ahead of Chris Jensen’s silver performance. Andrew Westendorf took the overall bronze, edging out Casey Schmitt.

Sarah won the Women’s overall and finished fifth at the line, followed closely by Jim Graupner (picture) in a classic race of young versus not-as-young. Jim will be the factor in this year’s PowerSox National Championship’s 60 – 64 class and is a good bet to repeat as class champion. He is likely the 2008 snowshoe competitor to participate in the most qualifying events, too, a good example for all to follow.

Curt Kreiger, a perennial national competitor, followed Jim across the line. At the Minneapolis 2007 USSSA National Championships, only seconds separated 2nd place from 5th in the ever tough 55-59 age group, and Curt was among that top group. Curt, a Mason City resident, once again will be right in the thick of the medal’s battle.

In the ‘Epic of the Erics,’ Eric Lins, 22, beat Eric Wortman, 43, across the finish, both with the clock showing 45 minutes.

Roger Degroot qualified for the National Championship in the 60 – 64 class. At the 2007 Nationals in Minneapolis, he just missed a bronze finish in the age category.

Susan Staudt finished as the silver women’s overall winner followed by Elizabeth Helling-Honemuller.

Always strong, Ed Jeannette, Edgerton, Wisconsin, already qualified in the 55-59 group, completed another USSSA event.


The Iowa State Championship Snowshoe race is gaining in popularity and visibility. Sarah pointed out that “Definitely more have started to come to it.” They make it easier to compete by renting snowshoes for a nominal fee at the Runner’s Flat, introducing new racers to the sport. With promotion and race planning now handled by Jeff Slade’s capable hands as the head of CVAdventures, this race should be on more North Central Region snowshoer’s calendars. The competition is tough but the people exude the friendliness for which Iowa is known.

Jeff Slade –
Runner’s Flat –
Coach ILG –
Phillip Gary Smith –

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, or find him on Twitter or Facebook @iHarmonizing.

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