The BIG question: Can Darren Brungardt order up another winter wonderland for the Dion Snowshoes United States Snowshoe Nationals February 24-26, 2012? And similar to the “walled-in” Colorado State High School championship course in last February’s “endless ribbon” cutting through deep-but-packed powder through the luscious mountain course? The answer is, don’t ever worry about the Orangeman, also known as Mr. Love Me Tender USSSA Qualifier Snowshoe Race Director. Learn Elvis-style how to get an early start on the USSSA course two weeks before the nationals, and learn how the high schools take their state snowshoe championships seriously in Colorado . . . all in this fulfilling piece penned by Darren Brungardt, the only racer wearing blue suede snow shoes:
“It was one of the greatest moments I have experienced in my brief five years of snowshoe racing: on a wet snowy Saturday morning a thousand miles from colorful Colorado Mitch Kasyon of Cheyenne Mountain came speeding through the trees of Wisconsin en route to his first ever Snowshoe National Championship. It got better: two places back Sam Lewis of Boulder High School came speeding through the forest a few minutes behind him to win her second National title. I had no idea how I was going to match their performances, but I was super inspired to go out and race my heart out.
I placed 20th in the senior men’s championship and ran my fastest 10K in snowshoes ever: a 47:15. I strongly feel that their performances ignited a fire inside of me that I used to race so well. Those two runners put Colorado high school runners on the map in the snowshoe field, and now they have the national race coming to their home course in Frisco, CO; a spot both of them have won at the last two years.
Yes, it is that time of year again. Snowshoe racing is upon us. The cross-country season ended well for you. Track and field is a mere three months away. The challenge of indoor track intrigues you, but being in a stuffy gym for five hours every other weekend has you thinking about getting outside. “Outside?” your teammates question you, “Isn’t it cold and icy? Aren’t you afraid of slipping out there or getting attacked by the Colorado Big Foot?” While these thoughts have crept into your brain, you know better than to let them get to you. “Track is going to be epic!” you tell yourself, “I am breaking all of my PRs and am going to bring home ribbons and medals from every meet!”
Now the plan must formulate. Playing Skyrim, Call of Duty, and Facebooking all day will not be the best plan. Base mileage is the ticket! Strength, power, balance, and agility are critical in this phase too. You could go to the gym and lift weights for a few hours, or you could get outside and snowshoe! Cardio and weight lifting all at once is what you will get with snowshoeing. The impact is minimal too. You will be running on a pillow the entire time if you think about it.
As you read this you must think I am biased–or crazy. You are right; I am. I truly believe that snowshoe running has kept me fit, strong, and most of all: healthy. I have continued to find success running road and trail races post collegiately and recently ran a modest 16:50 5K nearly seven years after setting my PR in the 5K at 16:37. I attribute a lot of the success to snowshoeing. Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you; I am living at 9100’ and my brain is turning into mush with this lack of quality air. However, you should believe what is going on down on the Front Range. Look at Cheyenne Mountain’s success in track and cross-country the last few years. They have been remarkable, and have credited their success to the base they have built-in snowshoeing. The emergence of Smoky Hill and Evergreen in snowshoeing last winter was evident in their success in track and cross-country this year too.
Look north and see a young woman in her senior year at Boulder High School that has grown leaps and bounds in Colorado track and cross-country. Sam Lewis has become the greatest Colorado snowshoe racing girl ever with her back-to-back national championships. She still has two more years to win the 5K nationals as a youth (as long as her college coach will let her miss an indoor meet in March next year). Just wait until she graduates from college too. She will be competing at the senior women’s level for many years to come. Sam was quoted in the Boulder Daily Camera after she placed 3rd in the 3200 last spring saying that the strength she gained from snowshoeing that winter was the key to the Ferrari she drove around the track that day (that last part I added about the Ferrari; Sam is way too humble to say that!).
Bottom line is that I have high schools from all over the state emailing me and calling me trying to get in on this magic. Your high school should be next. Email me at email@example.com if you would like more information on the sport. It is relatively inexpensive and easy to do. I will even give your team a snowshoe running tour any weekend. The best part about all of this: the 2012 PowerBar Colorado Snowshoe High School State Championship is in the same spot as the 2012 Dion Snowshoes US Snowshoe Association National Championship. Your first step is to get a team together; the state team title is coed and is composed of at least five members. Next get some snowshoes from your local Sports Authority or ski rental shop (the smaller the better). Put some warm clothing on. Your next step is to find some snow. Your last step is to get out of the car, put your snowshoes on, and start running! Have fun, throw some snowballs, fall in the snow, and get fit this winter!”
2011-2012 Snowshoe Schedule:
12/31/11: Pazzo’s Eagle-Vail Holiday 5K/10K (Eagle-Vail, CO)
1/7/12: Swift Skedaddle 5K and 10K* (Silverthorne, CO)
1/7: Wyoming State Championships*(Laramie, WY)
1/8: Beaver Creek Snowshoe Series #1 5K/10K (Avon, CO)
1/25: Nighthawk Snowshoe Series #1 (Eldora Ski Resort, CO) (Every Wednesday night)
1/28: Tennessee Pass Colorado State Championship 5K/10K* (Leadville, CO)
2/4: Redstone 5K (Redstone, CO)
2/10-12: 2012 Winter Teva Mountain Games (Vail, Colorado)
2/11: PowerBar Love Me Tender 2K/10K and the CO HS Snowshoe State Championship 5K* (Frisco, CO)
2/12: Beaver Creek Snowshoe Series #2 5K/10K (Avon, CO)
2/12: Screamin’ Snowman (Nederland, CO)
2/24-2/26: Dion Snowshoes USSSA Nationals 5K/10K and 10K Relay
*Is a national qualifying race
Darren Brungardt: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phillip Gary Smith: email@example.com
photos courtesy: Jim Lewis