A snowshoe race here in the heart of the Central Rockies is a gift from the Gods of elegance, purity, and all things amazing. How much beauty can one take in? This area has it all. With a fresh snow, miffed-moods shifted with every flake as this early prep for the upcoming Dion Snowshoe USSSA National Championship just down the road raced on white rather than dirt-brown.
How fast did registrations come in for Silverthorne, Colorado’s annual Swift Skedaddle Snowshoe Race and Dion Snowshoe USSSA National Championship Qualifier? Speedily? Quickly? No! Even better . . . swiftly! So much so that registrations closed before race day, meaning there had to be some whose actions caused them to miss this adventure that includes the now-famous culvert crawl.
Special conditions were prepped as even this town by the Blue River, a designated “Gold Medal” waterway meaning it is in the top two percent for aquatic purity in this already pure state, suffers in this strange weather starting the competitive snowshoeing year. But with the USSSA coming to Colorado next month, the mountains let loose with fresh snow for a winter wonderland race in the tradition of Silverthorne.
The race course was snow-covered so temporary rules on hand earlier in the week were never implemented, making them truly temporary like this one: Competitors are required to snowshoe the beginning and end. “Feel free to take them off or leave them on during the race depending on the terrain you are crossing and your level of comfort in doing so.”
Plenty of fun is the mark of the Swift Skedaddle. “This race has always been an adventure in that there are many hills and variables along the course including a culvert, road crossings, and possible downed trees.” In addition, the race has a good sense of humor. Check out their cool way of basically saying, don’t be snowshoeing inside: “Snowshoes may not be worn in the clubhouse. Please take them outside to put them on. If you have to come inside, even briefly, you must take off your snowshoes first. Hey, this might be good practice for the course (if it had not snowed)!”
With plenty of local experience, Love Me Tender Race Director and host of the Dion Snowshoe USSSA National Championships, Darren Brungardt, won this Colorado 10 km qualifier overall with a 1.06.03 as Brian Krombein about caught him but followed by 17 seconds as James Morton chased him, just 20 seconds back. Incredibly, Chai Engtrakul followed Morton over the finish eight seconds later. There it is, the top four in 45 seconds. What a finish! Special notes for Bill Faulkner and Bill Moyle as 70+ racers with hearty finishes.
Colleen Ihnken won the women’s class in a speedy 7:25 km pace, 1.14.09. Kate Kenoyer pushed her with a 7:35 rate while Caroline Szuch took third in 1.18.31. Special kudos to Rose Schler and Tina Oberheide for getting their finish and as the most senior women racers.
In the 5 km event, it was USSSA National Team Member, Cheryl Paulson, zipping away from the pack with Laura Wheatley chasing every step. These two put on a show as Paulson took the checkered flag in nearly 41 flat while Wheatley, 2006 National Championship Bronze medalist and USSSA Team member, closed to within 30 seconds. Up-and-comer award goes to the third place finisher, teenager Mariah Henderson, at 51.30.
Tim Hola won the 5 km overall in 35:43 followed by two teens: Samuel Sahli in 36.29 and Jackson Sayler, keeping it below 40 by 5 seconds.
A newer, moving obstacle was covered in the prerace briefing this year . . . no, not quiet electric cars but rather one of the oldest residents in these mountains: moose. Here are their rules if one has a close encounter of the moose kind:
- Move slowly, being careful not to make any quick or sudden movements
- Move away from the moose
- Never get between a cow and its calf
- If it charges you, get behind something large, such as a tree or boulder. (left unsaid was utilizing the name of the race to “Skedaddle out of there.”
Drawing high level competitors throughout the state, Silverthorne is a neighbor to Frisco, the host of the Dion Snowshoes USSSA National Championship for 2012—only six miles away—offering a good test for the upcoming national title. When driving to Frisco from Denver, one passes the Silverthorne exit. Plan a stop or meal here and enjoy this jewel in the heart of the Central Rockies.
United States Snowshoe Association: www.snowshoeracing.com
Dion Snowshoes: www.dionsnowshoes.com