In the mountain running community, Jonathan Wyatt is a household name. A six-time world mountain running champion, former Olympian (’96) in the 5,000 meters and an avid snowshoe racer. Jonathan was nice enough to answer some questions about his adventures in the snow.
1) What is your most memorable snowshoeing experience? I think for me it was the first time running in the Ciaspolada (Val di Non, Italy). In the first 100 meters with a few thousand other runners, I started quite slowly and then immediately had pieces of snow in face–I could hardly see. I learned quickly why it’s important to start fast.
2) What piece of gear would you never leave the house without before hitting the trails?
Well, the right shoes for the conditions (be it trail, road or snow… I look for grip and comfort depending on how long I’ll be running). The second thing is my new Suunto Ambit watch because with the GPS I really enjoy tracking my run on Google maps and logging my training on Movescount training log.
3) Where is your favorite place to snowshoe?
Really enjoyed the area on Monte Bondone in Italy above the city of Trento.
4) What tips can you give to someone who wants to transition to snowshoeing and snowshoe racing?
Well, it’s not so much different from running on cross-country. It takes a bit of getting used to running with the extra weight attached to your foot and it forces you into making a longer stride. To get used to the change in gait, I would advise some work to strengthen your calf muscles and also extra stretching in the abductors and hamstring muscles.
5) Seriously, how hard is it racing up Grouse Mountain in Vancouver, B.C., Canada?
The Grouse Mountain event I participated in back in 2010 at the time of the Olympics was the toughest snowshoe event I have done. The fresh snow meant that it was much easier to follow others and then there were big steep climbs and fun, fast descents. I really enjoyed it, but I wasn’t that well suited to the course because the climbs were too steep to run and meant the “walkers” could keep up with me and then nail me on the downhills. It was a lot of fun though and this is the best thing about snowshoeing: You run with a big smile on your face the whole time because it feels a little bit crazy and fun all at the same time.