Paddy’s Holiday Classic USSSA Qualifier Kicks off Championship Quest

The 2009 National Snowshoe Championship quest just got underway . . . in 2008!

Moving their Qualifier to the Annual Holiday Classic 5km / 10km race allows The Holiday Classic to lead the way in the 22 race qualifying season plus puts the event in the attractive post Christmas / pre New Year’s week calendar. Looks like a heads up move by the PedalPower group.

Held on Saturday, December 27, 2008 at the Eagle-Vail Golf Club in Avon, Colorado, 65 snowshoers finished the challenging course. This event keeps growing in size and now with the USSSA designation can become a major destination during the holiday week; Vail for the week and a snowshoe race to boot. Book it!

And what a course. Bruce Kelly, race director, called the racers “brave” for “challenging the off track course which has plenty of single-track climbing in the woods with deep snow and frigid temperatures.” Sounds like fun for these mountain snow athletes.

“Plenty of snow over the past three weeks in the Vail Valley provided excellent coverage allowing us to incorporate serious technical climbing and descending for the participants.”

USSSA National Champion, Keri Nelson, Grand Junction, won the women’s class going away, drawing a line in the snow in her attempt to follow-up with the 2009 National Championship honors at 57:18, good enough for 8th overall. “She bested a very talented women’s field,” Bruce observed. Sara Anderson also covered the course in under one hour at 59:56, the last snowshoer to do so for second in class and 10th overall. Cindy Cain not only was the most senior female racer she also qualified for the USSSA National Championship sponsored by PowerSox race to be held March 8th, 2009, Mt. Hood, Oregon.

The Holiday Classic is one of the races in the Pedal Power Nordic Snowshoe Adventure Series. Two time series champion, Travis Macy, established himself once again as the favorite by winning this edition by more than a minute and a half in 52:50. Bruce added, “Travis out lasted adventure racing legend, Mike Kloser, for the win.” Mike keeps moving up in the finishes having a 3rd in 2007 and a 4th in 2006. With his second place, this sets up the December, 2009, race as a potential doozy of a snowshoe race.  Matt Durnbull took third. Five of the top ten men raced the Tennessee Pass Kick-Off Classic held earlier in December.

Adam Chase, snowshoe, trail and adventurist extraordinaire, gave this account of the day: “The sun made the temps, which were hovering around zero (F), feel a lot warmer.  So did the uphill start in untracked powder, not to mention the altitude of approximately 9,000 feet.  Holding a race on December 27 means that that field consists almost exclusively of elite athletes who “celebrate” by making their lungs burn.  Yes, we inhaled, but it was clean, cold Rocky Mountain High air.

From my perspective, which was toward the back of pack, it was a hard course with the usual Pedal Power fun of dodgy running, fallen trees, slides, steep traverses, and plenty of “whoops” from the strong field of participants.  Everyone had a good time out there, and it was the perfect way to wake up your body in time for the New Year.”

The annual “Best Free Snowshoe Poster” goes once again to the PedalPower Crew. This year’s freebie, available at is worth printing on photo paper and posting on the office bulletin board. Click the link and check it out.

Paddy’s Sports Bar, owned for a quarter of a century by Ralph Dockery, is the long-time title sponsor for this race. Not only supporting and promoting snowshoeing, Paddy’s also broadcasts over their 30 big screen televisions. Perfect place to gather after a perfect day of snowshoe running and racing.

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.