Quednows Conquer, Perfect at Perkinstown

A record number of participants traveled to Perkinstown (near Medford, Wisconsin) on Saturday, January 16, 2010, to snowshoe either in the 3-Mile, 6-Mile, or Mountaineer races. There were close to 450 competitors in all (see picture of just some of the mass amount of people awaiting results post-race at the bottom of the tubing hill), with 365 of these racing in the 3-Mile event. The winner of this event, Jeffrey Quednow, later saw his father Mike win the 6-Mile race as the Quednows (from nearby Westboro) swept the Male divisions this year at Perkinstown (see picture of Jeff Quednow, Mountaineering winner Jay Punke and Mike Quednow displaying their Perkinstown trophies).

The younger Quednow, Jeff, won his 2nd consecutive snowshoe race, as he won the Whitetail Ridge 10K in River Falls, Wisconsin by a minute over his father a weekend ago.  At Perkinstown, 18-year-old Jeff won this race for the first time, beating defending champion Kris Borchardt, 30, by 56 seconds.  Jeff ran a time of 21:41, with Borchardt crossing the line in 2nd place in 22:37 and Kyle Schmidt, 35, placing 3rd with a time of 22:54.  It was fitting that it was this trio in the top 3, as this same trio took the top 3 spots in 2 other snowshoe races last year.

In the post-race interview, Jeff stated, “I was really happy with my race today.  I was going for the win – I was worried about Borchardt and Schmidt.  When I got to the 2-mile mark and looked over my shoulder, I didn’t see anyone coming and figured I had a good chance of winning.”  Jeff took the lead early on and Schmidt and Borchardt stayed within a few seconds of him until the first mile marker, where Jeff found another gear and worked a big lead against both men.  Borchardt passed Schmidt for the first time right before the 2.5-mile marker, and opened up a gap during the last half mile, which included a small but steep ski hill and sugary terrain to the finish.

Jeff is actually a two-sport athlete in the winter, as he plays high school varsity basketball for the Rib Lake Redmen.  He is a senior on the team, and starts as shooting guard, playing most, if not all, 32 minutes of game time for the team.  His legs admittedly were a little tired yet from a game and a practice within a couple of days prior to the race.  Of course, Jeff also ran cross country and track for Rib Lake, and has one season of track remaining for the Redmen.

The winner of the female division of the 3-Mile race was Ashley Woest, 22, from Medford.  Her time was 26:55, startling due to this being one of her first times on snowshoes, and only her 2nd snowshoe race ever.  According to Woest, she was just having a good time, “I just wanted to have something to do for fun.  The course was good – it’s so pretty out here.  I’m just out here having fun – I just ran.  I had no idea (I’d be so fast when I started) – it was just my 4th or 5th time on snowshoes.”  She had also won the female division in the 5K at Rib Lake two weeks ago.  After running track and cross country at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, she is moving on to snowshoe racing to continue her competitive enthusiasm.

Kathy Hackbarth, 28, from Medford finished in 2nd place with a time of 27:32, which was 37 seconds behind Woest.  Just one second behind Hackbarth was Janie Grunwald, 34, clocking 27:33.  Grunwald, like Woest and Hackbarth, is a local from the town of Medford.

Mike Quednow, 46, as previously stated, ruled the 6-Mile event, winning it with a time of 53:11.  Once again, a Quednow took down a champion from the year before – Jonathon Delf, 32, from Rice Lake was hoping to defend his title from 2009 but finished 35 seconds behind the elder Quednow in 53:46.  Scott Scheithaeur, 43, placed 3rd in the 6-Mile race with a time of 54:01, also hailing from Medford.  Delf and Scheithaeur kept it close until Quednow pulled away from them around the 4-mile mark, increasing his lead until the finish.

Andrea Mueller, 31, from Edgar, was a defending champion who was not beaten this year at Perkinstown, but mixed things up by switching from the 3-Mile race in 2009 to the 6-Mile one in 2010.  She had the biggest winning margin of the day for non-mountaineers, crossing the line in 58:51, over 3 minutes in front of the next female finisher.  This resembled a year ago, when she also won by over 3 minutes in the 3-Mile race’s women’s division.

Medford’s Michele Brost, 40, ended her race 3:26 behind Mueller, finishing with a time of 1:02:17.  Kristi Speer, 28, from Phillips, finished in 3rd place in 1:03:03, shortly behind Brost.  Speer is one of several area athletes that plans to travel to New York to compete at the USSSA Snowshoe Nationals race on March 6th.  Many of the top competitors at Perkinstown hail from Medford (which is unofficially the Snowshoer Capital of Wisconsin).  The more of these athletes we can get to New York, the better the Midwest as a whole can be represented at the USSSA Nationals race (see picture of several Medford area athletes finishing the 3-Mile race in a close pack).

There were also Mountaineer divisions at Perkinstown as well, a 6-Mile Men’s Mountaineer race and a 3-Mile Women’s Mountaineer event. Wausau’s Jay Punke (also known as CJ Snowshoe), 49, once again won his signature race, dominating this event for years now.  With his big wooden snowshoes and backpack, he pushed across the line in a time of 1:01:26.  Dave Sykora, 62, traveled from Green Bay to place 2nd again to Punke with a time of 1:11:54, but shaving 6 minutes off Jay’s winning margin from a year ago.

The 3-Mile Women’s Mountaineer saw Medford’s Lori Sprotte, 25, take 1st place in a time of 31:54.  Jay Punke’s wife Judy, 55, took 2nd this year, with a time of 37:21, mountaineering her way through the Chequamegon National Forest that all racers had the privilege to trek through.  Jay and Judy host their own event next month, the Stomp the Swamp Snowshoe race – it is on Sunday, February 28, at Nine Mile County Forest in Wausau, Wisconsin, and it boasts a Mountaineer event as well, along with 6K and 12K races.

There was also a Team Division at Perkinstown, as the scoring was for team-participating athletes in the 3-Mile race.  The winning team was called the Pressed Rats, defending their team title from a year ago, handily beating out a team by the name of Frosted Flakes.  The top team was made up of Jeff Quednow, Kyle Schmidt, John Kann, Bill Bellendorf, Chris Mueller and John Wilke.

Perkinstown co-race director Paula Liske also helped coordinate a Kids Race, where race mascot Perky the Porcupine led and motivated 50 children to sprint and meander their way to the finish line in the warm-feeling 30-degree weather (see picture of Paula Liske posing with Perky the Porcupine, just seconds after the finish of the Kids Race).  There were goodie bags and medals given to each one of the kids, with the bags consisting of chocolate milk and kids’ Clif Bars.

Liske was ecstatic about how great everything came together, saying “This is the nicest (weather-wise) it’s ever been – last year it was just 15 degrees, two years ago it hit 22 below zero.  There should be about 450 people total today, not even counting the kids.”  The warmer weather may have helped to bring in more people, but this race has grown since its inception in 2006.  It was formed by a mountain biking club in the Medford area, and it has grown to be a huge Wisconsin snowshoe event in just its 5th year running.  For the most part, the course was great for running on with groomed ski trails making up the majority of the course.

The Perkinstown Winter Sports Area, 20 miles northwest of Medford, hosts this event every year and it should continue to grow with the heart of Wisconsin snowshoe country surrounding it.  Results and additional pictures for this race should be available at www.perkinstownsnowshoerace.com and www.superiortiming.com.

Comments or thoughts about this race or story?  E-mail kris.borchardt@ingenixconsulting.com.

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Kris Borchardt