Roughly 100 racers and quite a few dogs lined up at the base of Golden Peak for the evening start of the Eukanuba X-Country Snowshoe races presented by Ruff Wear. The 10K, 5K and 5K with canine companion runs were part of the second annual Winter Mountain Games presented by Eddie Bauer.
The race began at more than 8,000 feet, with a course that had runners traveling a disproportionate feeling distance of uphill to downhill on firm packed snow. The 5K route took runners up Gopher Hill, continued with a moderate climb across the tops of 38, Head First and Pepi’s Face before a fast drop down into the Village and back across to Golden Peak on Gitalong Road. 5K racers did this loop twice before making the left turn to the finish. 10K runners completed this loop once, before heading up the Henry’s/Mill Creek loop for more fun and elevation gain.
Josiah Middaugh, of Vail, Colo., won the men’s 10K in 45:32 and earned $1,000 prize money in the process.
“It was a tough course, but I’ll take it,” said Middaugh. “There was a lot of elevation gain and some very steep stuff and steep downhills – not so great for quads.”
Jason Delaney, of Golden, Colo., came in less than a minute after Middaugh in 46:13 for second place, and Sage Canaday, of Boulder, Colo., rounded out the podium and money winners with his 47:16 third place finish.
Middaugh was at the finish to congratulate Delaney and Canaday and talk snowshoe racing with his new competitors. Delaney was racing in his sister’s snowshoes because they were newer and lighter than his, but the race was his first time running in them. And Canaday’s frustration from his snowshoes falling off repeatedly was answered by Middaugh’s fit adjustment recommendations.
Times were equally tight in the women’s 10K field. Hannah Williams, Steamboat Springs, Colo., took home first and a $1,000 prize check when she crossed the line in 55:27. Jeanne Copper of Eagle, Colo., couldn’t quite catch her, finishing in 55:45. Anita Ortiz, Eagle, Colo., finished in 57:10 for third place.
“I love the screaming downhills and was running with my friends, so it made for a good race,” according to Cooper. “Snowshoe events make for a nice mix of trail runners, road runners, climbers, snowshoers – it’s always a crap shoot as to who will be there, but it makes it exciting.”
John Harrison and his pup Luna were in town from Leadville, Colo., to try out the 5K canine division. It was the first snowshoe race for both, and he let Luna set the pace: “I thought this was a great experience on a beautiful course.”
For more information on the Winter Mountain Games, visit http://www.mountaingames.com/winter.