Perfect weather conditions greeted the sprinters at the 2010 Empire State Games snowshoe races held on Saturday, February 20 at Paul Smith’s college north of Saranac Lake, NY. Participants must have qualified at events held throughout New York before competing in the games, which are organized and run by the Empire State Snowshoe Organization.
Numbers were down slightly over previous years due to the state instituting a $40 registration fee when previously they had been free. Fifty-three sprinters competed in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 1500m races. Despite Paul Smith’s coach Jim Tucker’s best efforts at grooming the track, a late snowfall on Friday turned the 300meter track into a test of strength and balance over sheer speed.
Dominating performances were turned in by Eileen Weinpress (F50-59), Carolyn Kriesen (F60-69), Kermit Cadrette (70-79) and Doug Hazelden (M50-59), with each earning four gold medals! Many races were decided by just a few tenths of a second. Derek Fessette set the overall best time of the day in the 100m, with a time of 16.19. James Medeiros was the athlete of the day however, winning gold and having the fastest times for the day in the 200m (34.6), 400m (1:16.4), and 1500m (6:10), and a bronze in the 100m, just .7 behind Fessette.
The concluding race of the Empire State Games weekend is always the 5k cross-country race held on Sunday afternoon, usually on the biathlon/cross-country skiing course at Mt. Van Hoevenburg near Lake Placid. It is truly a beautiful setting for a snowshoe race, with rolling hills, a groomed course and great start/finish area. Similar to the sprints, participants needed to qualify in a previous event to be eligible to compete.
Sixty-nine men and women started the race, down from eighty-nine in 2009 (due to fee or nationals coming up?), but it was an exciting race nonetheless. The course was actually a touch over 3.3 miles, which explains the slower race times. Weinpress, Kriesen, Cadrette, and Hazelden added to their gold medal haul of the previous day. Kellie Gregoire was first in the female 40-49 age group and first overall female in a time of 28:58.9. James Medeiros won gold in his age group, but was second overall with a time of 22.22, behind race winner Scott Smolensky’s 22:02.6.
These photographs are courtesy of Michael McCullough, but hundreds of photos may be browsed and purchased from official race photographer Pat Hendrick Photography.
Many thanks must go to the officers in the ESSRA, who put in countless volunteer hours in tabulating race results from around the state and planning for the races, take of care the web site and spend two days in all sorts of weather conditions creating a wonderful experience for the racers.
contributed by Michael McCullough
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