Wisconsin’s Badger State Games had multiple snowshoe races to partake in at Wausau’s Nine Mile County Forest – and a lot of medals to give away as well on a 25-degree day with light flurries falling. Gold, silver and bronze medals were given away for each age group for 3 different races – a 1-mile, a 5-kilometer and a 10-kilometer in addition to an 800-meter relay race and kids’ 400-meter event (see picture of the long downhill straightaway which served for all race’s starts).
After a two-team competition in the relay and the kids’ 400m was complete, the 1-mile run was the first full snowshoe race to get underway. As commissioner Jay Punke put it, “this mile race is actually 1.2 miles, so you get bonus mileage out of it!” So yet with this in mind, the race still started with a fast sprint with many a snowshoer burning their reserves early. There were 31 competitors total in the 1-mile event, consisting of 18 men and 13 women.
Rice Lake’s Jonathon Delf, 31, opened up a huge lead and by the quarter-mile mark had around an 8-second lead on Kronenwetter’s Kris Borchardt, 30, last year’s mile champion at these Games. Borchardt closed the gap once the course shifted from the open ski area to single-track trail, and kept it close until ultimately passing him on the final straightaway, 15 seconds from the finish line. It was a photo finish as Borchardt (6:46) barely outleaned Delf (6:47) at the line, quads burning as they both fought hard with their legs churning on the last uphill sprint. Lake Elmo’s Jim Graupner took bronze for the men in the mile, crossing the line in 7:42.
Phillips’ Kristi Speer, 28, had a phenomenal day, winning both the 1-mile and 5km events. Speer’s first win was in the 1-mile, where she blazed to the line in a time of 7:53. Speer (see picture of her near the finish line’s race clock, standing with one of her gold medals) was really happy with her day, stating, “This is my first time at Badger State Games, it’s a great race. Kris Miller and I duked it out in the mile – I got her by less than a second. Today was great, as I love single-track. Punke put on a great race – the volunteers were good as well”.
Speer also had a very close victory over her nearest competitor, beating West Lakeland’s Kristin Miller, 47, by that split second, who finished in 7:54. Withee’s Fawn Paczkowski, 21, came across the line a couple minutes later in 9:44 to claim third place overall for the women’s 1-mile.
Both the 5km and 10km snowshoe races were run nearly simultaneously after the 1-mile event, so that gave the opportunity for multiple racers to do two of the snowshoe competitions. Defending 5km champion Borchardt was upended this year in that race by Wausau’s Mark Beversdorf, 36, beating him 23:29 to 26:28. Borchardt’s three-minute deficit to Beversdorf was mainly due to tiredness and burning his reserves from the all-out 1-mile effort. Winning two events here with the really good competition is tough, with only Speer able to accomplish the feat this year. Pewaukee’s Tom Kissner, 49, crossed the line nearly 3 minutes after Borchardt in 29:23.
As said previously, Speer was victorious in the women’s 5km, with a winning margin of over four minutes with a time of 30:45 (she also won the women’s 3-mile at the Athens Udder Snowshoe race the day before). Paczkowski claimed second place in 35:06 to add to her third place finish in the 1-mile. Wausau’s Kathleen Ross, 40, was shortly behind Paczkowski and secured the third spot with a time of 36:01. There were 39 competitors total in the 5km race, with 20 of them being women.
The 10km event saw 20 total competitors make it to the finish line, with 13 of these being on the men’s side. The Quednows conquered the 10km event with son Jeffrey, 18, and father Michael, 46, taking the top two spots. Hailing from Westboro, Jeff was victorious in his fourth snowshoe race this season, winning the 10km with a time of 53:32.
Jeff also won the Athens ‘Udder Snowshoe’ 3-mile race the day before, with his father taking second to him in that race, too. At the Badger State Games, father Michael fought off fatigue from the day before to finish in 56:56, over three minutes behind Jeff. Delf, likely even more fatigued than the Quednows after his 1-mile battle with Borchardt, crossed the line less than a minute later in 57:36.
Edgar’s Andrea Mueller, 31, was the defending 10km champion from 2009, and she did repeat as the victor. Her time was 1:00:51, over 4 minutes better over a tired Miller, who came across the line in 1:05:00. Medford’s Michele Brost, 40, took the bronze for the women in 1:07:03.
Wausau’s Jay Punke, 49, won the 10km Mountaineering event, crossing the finish line in 1:09:10. The two other mountain men were Green Bay’s Dave Sykora, 62, 1:20:07, and Merrill’s Gary Peterson, 61, 2:06:48. These three men ran with the big wooden snowshoes and signature backpacks for the whole 6.25-mile distance.
For six consecutive years Jay and Judy Punke (see picture of them presenting the results and awards) have co-race directed (along with Joel Braatz) the Wisconsin Badger State Games and have organized the event with family and friends at the Nine Mile County Forest for the last three years. Like organizing their upcoming race at Nine Mile, Stomp the Swamp (on Sunday, February 28th) 6K and 12K, the organization for the race was admittedly a lot of work.
Jay stated, “I spent 15-20 hours marking the trails during the last week, putting the pink ribbon on the trees. I also come out here in the fall to mark the courses in order to find those trails in the winter”. There was undoubtedly a lot of volunteer help on the course to make the events run smoothly. This led to a nice awards presentation, which went on inside of the warm Nine Mile Chalet (see picture of friends Jeremy Jonas and Borchardt standing outside the chalet, awaiting awards).
The local television affiliate was out filming for their news telecast that night, showcasing the snowshoe events as a special part of Badger State Games, as they should continue to be. Full Badger State Games information is on the website www.sportsinwisconsin.com, and the results for this race are currently available on www.performancetiming.com.
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