Big Duel Continues at Michigan’s Bigfoot Dion USSSA National Championship Qualifier

Awakening to an ideal day for snowshoe racing, race director Randy Step became the envy of many events in North America in this weird warmth afflicting the heart of national championship qualifying and state competition. “Race day dawned for the Bigfoot in Traverse City, MI with a couple fresh inches of snow over perhaps a foot of old snow on the course. (It was) a perfect snowshoe race day with continued heavy snowfall, perhaps four more inches during the event with clear sunny skies at the finish.”

One of the best duels in 2012 snowshoe championship qualifying racing occurred here at the Timber Ridge Nordic Center, too, continuing the race’s tradition of exciting competition. In 2011, Kevin Tarras literally edged Jeb Stone by an amazingly narrow 3.7 seconds. They dueled again at the 2012 version with Tarras capturing the second running with slightly more breathing room, defeating Stone with a 39-second margin.

Dualing Snowshoers continues No.1 Kevin Tarras overall winner, No. 106 Jeb Stone 2nd

Perennial top competitor and 2010 winner, Yaro Middaugh, was not at this year’s race so 54-year-old Marshall Randall stepped up for the bronze overall, edging Ty Schmitt by a mere four seconds. This marked a four-position step-up  by Schmitt over 2011’s race (he was fourth in 2010) while Randall chose the 5 km in 2011 for a third place; his previous 10 km race in 2009 yielded a fourth.

In 2008 Schmitt lead Randall at the finish by nearly 2.5 minutes.

The Women’s top finisher, Ypsilanti’s Erin O’Mara, repeated her 2011 victory, this time leading Karen Osborn over the line by six-and-one-half minutes. Earlier in the month, O’Mara competed at the prestigious Women’s Olympic Marathon Qualifying Race held in Houston, Tx. Coming off that incredible day–for the first time ever, five women finished under the 2:30 hour mark at the Olympic Trials–O’Mara still maintained a hot 8:08 snowshoe pace.

2012 Olympic Marathon Trails participant, Erin O’Mara, still has big wheels just two weeks after that epic race

In 2011, she won over Alaina Case by two-and-one-half. In 2010, O’Mara didn’t race, and Renee Obert won by a minute over Gwendolyn Ostrosky. 2009 saw O’Mara winning over Sara Williams as she had also won over Jami Grant in 2008–both by four minutes. O’Mara is the reigning Big Foot at this event, for sure.

Max Sadler pushes hard in the 5km with some of the closest racing yet. 1 tick separated his 7th from 6th and 8th

Annual 10 km racer, Kevin Deyo, took a stab at the 5 Km and finding it to his liking, won. In a tight finish, he only led Asa Kelly (2011 winner) by a dozen seconds who was holding off Ryan Rebain by three ticks.

Katie Tomczyk won the women’s 5 km by 15 seconds over Meg Stall though “chip results” differ from who crossed the finish line first: Katie.

The Bigfoot Snowshoe Race, one of the first USSSA National Championship locales, is highly competitive . . . yet a snowfest occurs afterward. Step told me, “With over 500 registered athletes and 450 finishers, it made for a great winter party.” With awards 5-deep in multiple age groups for both 5 Km and 10 Km, the after-party is a bustling festival.

Photographer for the event, Greg Sadler, echoed these thoughts. “As always, Running Fit’s Bigfoot Boogie was awesome. The weather was perfect, the runners were great, and it was fun for all.” Some of the unsung winter warriors documenting these events for all to enjoy are photographers like Greg Sadler Photography .

Photos Courtesy of Greg Sadler Photography

Many snowshoers cross-training for snowshoeing by trail running will recognize his cover for UltraRunner Magazine’s November, 2011 edition: smiling ultrarunner, running tall, muddy, in water . . . . Combining his artistic ability through the lens with other skills such as recolorization and old slides converted to DVDs customized to one’s needs, Greg Sadler Photography is a sports and business person’s best bet.

In addition to Running Fit known as Michigan’s Premier Running Store, Hammer Nutrition along with Redfeather Snowshoes are event sponsors.


About the author

Phillip Gary Smith

Phillip Gary Smith, Senior Editor, published "The 300-Mile Man" about Roberto Marron's historic doubling of the Tuscobia 150 mile endurance snow run. He publishes "iHarmonizing Competition" on various forms of competition, including drag racing, his favorite motorsport. Earlier, he wrote "HARMONIZING: Keys to Living in the Song of Life" as a manual for life with chapters such as Winning by Losing, Can God Pay Your Visa Bill?, and a young classic story, The Year I Met a Christmas Angel. His book, "Ultra Superior," is the first written on the Superior Trail ultra-distance events. He mixes writing with his profession--the venture capital world--a dying art. He is a creator of CUBE Speakers, a group espousing themes in "HARMONIZING: Keys" in a unique way. Currently, he has two books in the works.
Write to him at, or find him on Twitter or Facebook @iHarmonizing.

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  • Although Redfeather continues to build the best running snowshoes in the world (Voted Best Running Snowshoe-Backpacker Magazine-2011), it still takes the heart and soul of a dedicated runner to bring out the best in the Redfeather Vapor, and make it live up to its name. Congratulations Kevin. You d’man!