Punke Punishes Perkinstown Snowshoe Races

400 snowshoers chased Wausau’s own Jay Punke through the hills of the picturesque Perkinstown Winter Sports Area in the heart of this national Hot Bed of Snowshoeing as he easily took the win in the difficult Mountaineering Class along with finishing with in the top five for the ‘regular’ six mile racers.

In the North Central Wisconsin forests, Paula Liske, Dale Baumann, Jan and Bruce Strama put on one of the most popular snowshoe events in the country. Through strong promotion, a willingness to invent and try new ideas, this program keeps racers returning every year.

For example, for the kids race, ‘Perkie,’ the seven foot race mascot, leads everybody to the start – and the in the adult races, too. A three legged race with a ‘middle leg’ snowshoe custom built by Baumann proved a big hit in the first year of this event.

Moments before the gun for the start of the six mile race the National Anthem was sung stirringly by Red Higgins. As his voice rang off the hills surrounding the second level deck where he was accompanied by a single electric guitar, the feeling was warm and patriotic as snow lazily drifted down on the crowd. The call was given to get to the line and, after waiting for one late arrival, off went the group.

The course described by director Dale Baumann (photo top, flanked with Jay Punke on right, author on left) as “very hilly, very challenging,” is something like a barbell shape as Buzz shows in the photo (see) of the course map. Essentially one races counterclockwise around the East end of the barbell after the start, follows the ski trail ‘bar’ to the other circle, a single track where one tracks clockwise. Returning on the same bar, the snowshoer completes the starting counterclockwise circle, reaching the finish.

The steep climb 100 yards from the start is a refreshing rush to the finish on the return.
Thick snow stacking on boughs of evergreens made this race one of beauty . . . and terrific fun.

Wisconsin snowshoers are some of the friendliest on earth . . . And looking at the beer cartons added to the big wood fire during its after race warming duties, many got even friendlier. It is all in good fun as Dale Baumann called out awards, held outside on this mild day, for well over an hour.

The Mountaineer Class at this race is a new form of snowshoe racing that has now expanded to three races in Wisconsin for 2009. This group is required to wear 46” snowshoes along with a 15 pound backpack as a way to mimic the old timers who regularly travelled these woods. Those men weren’t racing – they were making way, utilizing the most practical means of moving through snow. Since the ‘aid’ stations were few and far between, they carried their own provisions. It is the Mountaineer Class that is reviving this type of snowshoeing as a separate race. And is it ever fun!

The Iverson Snowshoe Company, Shingleton, Michigan, provided a pair of their Cross Country models to award in a drawing for this Mountaineer Class. Second place winner, Dave Sykora, Greenbay, had his number drawn and picked up this terrific prize.(picture above, man-in-black) He plans to race with them at the Stomp the Swamp Snowshoe Race, Wausau, on February 22. Jay Punke uses the same Iverson wooden snowshoe model, and has for over a decade.

Paula Liske, (photo hanging the Inversons prerace display) said, “Special thanks to Iversons Snowshoes for their giveaway. Everybody is hearing about Iversons thanks to their promotion.”

Winning the ‘regular’ six mile race was Jonathon Delf, Rice Lake, at 54:26 followed seconds later by John Brylski, Appleton. Scott Scheithauer, Medford, Mike Bull, Marshfield and Bruce Hiebel, Curtiss, all finished the course under one hour.
In the Female Class, Michelle Brost, Medford, won with a 1:02:45. Kristi Speer, Phillips and Renee Bull, Marshfield, completed the top three.

The Female Mountaineer Class is competed on a three mile course. Nancy McDaniel, Marshfield, won. The Female ‘regular’ three mile was won by Andrea Mueller, Edgar at 27:13, edging USSSA International Competitor in the Juniors, Michayla Heil, Medford.

Kris Borchardt asked me a very good question, “Hey! What about the male who won the 3-mile at Perkinstown?” Well, who would that be?  That is the effervescent Kris Borchardt, Kronenwetter, a USSSA Qualifier from the Rib Lake Race, 1st overall out of 337 racers with a time of 23:47. Kyle Schmidt placed 2nd overall and always is around the top, too. These two need, along with all of the other Qualified snowshoers, need to get to the USSSA National Championships next month in Oregon and bring back even more of those medals to Wisconsin.

Over 1,000 pictures are available online for participants to purchase at Pictures by Fuad (see at race website: www.perkinstownsnowshoerace.com).

Sponsors include Font Jocks, Clif Bar, Silent Sports Magazine, Snowshoe Magazine, and Misty River Consulting.

United States Snowshoe Association: www.snowshoeracing.com

Phillip Gary Smith: www.ultrasuperior.com

Comments or questions on the race or article, email me at phillipgary@snowshoemag.com.

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.