Leave it to USSSA National Team Member, Scott Gall, to take all of his snowshoe racing experiences and design a wicked course for the 2012 Iowa State Championships. Also counting as a Dion Snowshoe United States Snowshoe Association National Championship Qualifier–athletes earning the right to participate in the National Championships February 24-26, 2012, Frisco, CO–this layout, termed a “crazy course” by Gall himself, proved a challenge
to the 10 km entrants. No one complained, though, as in past events the state often found conditions lacking in the fluffy white stuff though no such problems occured this race. Their northern winter neighbors, Minnesota and Wisconsin, won the right to suffer this season with cancellations and dirt-trail replacements.
The top of the board at the Iowa State Championships / Dion Snowshoe USSSA National Championship Qualifier saw ultra runners Nate Canton and Illinois’ Peter Witucki give chase to four-time USSSA Team Member Scott Gall. And as if that was not enough pressure, the famed Sevcik clan was represented by 20-year-old Joey and then followed by Sarah, also known as Mrs. Gall.
Gall is used to applying pressure, so he calmly—but quickly—moved around the undulating course to win in 44:40, leading Canton by two minutes, still a resounding 46:56, and Witucki’s 48:02. He explained to me, “We had a tight pack for the first two miles of the race.Canton and Witucki led me with Sevcik following. The last long climb of the first-loop spread the group out; at the halfway mark, I moved into the lead and Canton stayed strong the whole next lap to take second.”
Gall won silver at the 2011 National Championships in Cable, WI, chasing gold in the form of Duluth’s Eric Hartmark in a world-class race on that challenging course—remember, only eight clicks on the clock separated them as USSSA Sports Director Mark Elmore called them across the finish.
Canton and Gall met in the Hawkeye 50 km December 2010, with a six-minute difference separating them at the top—Gall winning. At the ultra-rough Black Hill 50-Mile, June 2011, Canton completed the distance under 10 hours, 9:57, to finish fifth overall, an outstanding result. He followed Gall and Randy Bill (tie) at the 2011 Iowa State Champ Snowshoe Race. His abilities at multiple distances and terrains indicate a continued force to be reckoned.
Witucki’s credentials show him placing sixth overall in the historic Ice Age 50 Mile in May 2011, a difficult feat in that hotly contested race, while he won the fast inaugural Glacial Park qualifier one year ago in 43:33. All other things equal, he is stronger at this time of the year going into the 2012 nationals than at the same moment 2011.
Joey Sevcik raced the Boston Marathon at age 17, finishing third in his group of 54. From the family’s background in cross-country races in Cedar Rapids came the idea to create Flash Running Club to fund legal aid needs.
Gall knows each very well, and told me, “Sevcik is training for a seven-hour, four-peak 50 km adventure race in New Zealand in a month, and Witucki is getting ready for a big Nordic ski race so they’re definitely ready to grind in the strength zone all day long.”
In this little ditty spoken by world class snowshoer (and person, for that matter) comes a command every athlete can grasp and hang on to as a mantra any time the climbs, the efforts hurt: “ . . . Grind in the strength zone all day long.”
What a concept! That kind of says it all, doesn’t it.
Sarah Gall, 2008 USSSA National Team Member, won the women’s class with a stellar 56:28, fifth overall.
Carla Stoner, 49, West Des Moines, took the silver women’s placement and 12th overall in 1:09 flat, showing the 30-somethings (and younger) in front and behind, she can hang. At the 2011 National Championships, Stoner won the age-group bronze, finishing 16th woman overall.
Waterloo’s Julie Tyler scored the bronze in 1:17. In November, she finished eighth out of 100 in her age category (1:04) for the 33rd Living History Farms Off-Road Race.
17-year-old John Paul Sevcik won the 5 km distance gold under 30-minutes at 28:27, followed by Eric Lins in 30:39.
Kelly Sampson captured third overall in 31:31, no surprise given her showing at the TC Medtronic 10-Mile in 2011. Out of 7549 total racers, she finished in the top 500 in 1:11:15.
The Iowa 10 km championship course reported nearly 4,000 ft of inclines and declines, ruining forever the view the unitiated have that Iowa is flat. Travel on I-80 sometime crossing the entire northern part of the state, visit the country’s largest and coolest truck (and car!) stops, The I-80 Truck Stop and wonder “from where did all of these steep grades come?”
Adapting from the movie thriller The Shining, where Jack Torrance spots a bedroom for his psychic son, saying, “Just perfect for a child,” these hills and valleys are just perfect for a snowshoe race. Gall is just the person to create the championship layout.
The Friday night hike, an intro into the world of snowshoeing, was full as residents turned out to learn the sport from one of its top spokespersons and local heros. Television station KWWL carried a story capturing the excitement of newbies learning the art of snowshoeing: http://www.kwwl.com/story/16621342/snow-shoeing-at-the-hartman-reserve
Hartman Reserve Nature Center has never been busier for snowshoeing. Saturday’s event, called by particpant Eric Hins, “a killer race,” was the most popular of the six years of the event.