For the second consecutive year, the Braveheart Midwest Snowshoe Racing Championship (on Saturday, March 9th, 2013) was held in Cable, Wisconsin, on the scenic and beautiful course near Lakewoods Resort.
The zig-zaggy course was lined with evergreens along a picturesque landscape on snow-covered golf greens and fairways, along rolling hills covered in soft, sugary, wet fresh powder. Spectators were able to enjoy the 10-kilometer racers running by on two loops while the 5-kilometer racers only traveled the entire course once – although the way the course was designed you were able to see competitors minutes behind or ahead of you just to your side passing by several times during the race, which helped gauge your progress during the competition.
Braveheart’s event (see the great awards and door prizes in the spread) featured 29 in the championship 10-kilometer race and 24 in 5-kilometer race. Because of the warmer weather (around 30 degrees Fahrenheit) and several inches of snowfall and some sleet hours before and during the race, the course was slower-going than the previous year – many spots along the course saw racers posthole and sink into the snow and chew up the path. This made it a little more difficult for those further back as they ran on a more uneven course and many parts of the second loop were more of a challenge to traverse than the first loop with everyone having run through it once before already. There were a couple of really steep hills to climb, one 2.5 miles into the loop and one around 3 miles in, hills that really slowed your pace to a halt as you fought to get over the crests.
Defending champion Jeffrey Quednow, 21, from Westboro, continued his 2013 dominance in snowshoeing and once again won the 10-kilometer race in Cable. He had won overall in five earlier snowshoe races in the last couple of months and caps off his season with the Midwest Championship. Kronenwetter’s Kris Borchardt, 33, overall winner of four other snowshoe races this season, was his closest competition on this day. Borchardt and another competitor inadvertently played the strategy of blocking off Quednow from taking the lead until about three minutes into the race – and then the inevitable happened as Quednow surged in front and started pulling away from the field.
Quednow’s winning time was 46:22, just under four minutes in front of second-place Borchardt (50:21). Unfortunately, Quednow will not be able to make it to the Dion National Snowshoe Championships in Bend, Oregon next weekend – but Borchardt and several other competitors in Cable from Wisconsin and Minnesota will be able to make the trip. Another one of those elite men to make the trek will be dominant Minnesota Masters runner Rob Class, 52, from Woodbury. Class finished third overall with a quick time of 51:42, almost five minutes ahead of his next competitor.
Fourth overall went to Phillips’ Andy Marshall, 25, hitting the line in 56:22. Marshall had almost two minutes of a gap on triathlete Jason Ruesch, 40, from Medford, who rounded out the top five. Last year Ruesch and Borchardt battled it out on this course back and forth with Ruesch just getting edged out by a few seconds – this year Ruesch ran 58:11, about twelve minutes behind Quednow and eight minutes behind Borchardt. Fourteen men completed the 10-kilometer course and there were seven women in this longer race.
In the ladies 10-kilometer race, defending champion Kristi Speer, 32, was able to make it two years in a row as the overall champion, winning by just over a minute over her Phillips’ training partner, Melissa Tekippe, 20. Speer’s time was just over one hour – 1:00:19, with Tekippe surging to the line in 1:01:36. Third place overall went to Woodbury’s Katy Class, 50, who finished another eight minutes behind in 1:09:26 but was over eight minutes ahead of her next competitor – that’s what you call no-man’s land to the extreme.
The men’s 5-kilometer race, with sixteen entered, featured Phillips’ Jordan Neeck, 23, who dashed to the finish line, taking the overall title in the short race in 24:18. He had a comfortable margin of victory as over two minutes behind was second place Mike Quednow, a new entrant to the 50-59 age category. Jeffrey Quednow’s father completed his race in 26:44, almost a minute ahead of Ironwood’s young lads Timothy Buerger, 13, and Paul Buerger, 15, as they took fourth and fifth place overall just seconds from each other around 27:30. A brotherly rivalry has ensued between these two in snowshoeing and this will be interesting to watch in coming years.
The women’s 5-kilometer race, with 13 entered, saw Phillips’ Bonnie Nutt, 17, running away for a significant margin of victory, almost seven minutes over her closest foe. Nutt cruised the course in 30:58, and will be making the trip to Oregon for the March 16th championship race along with all of her Phillips’ snowshoe friends mentioned earlier. Second place went to Debbie Hoover, 52, who hit the line in 37:49. A Debbie double occurred when Westboro’s Debbie Quednow, 43, secured the third-place spot about two minutes later in 39:47. About another two minutes later was Medford’s Summer Marthaler, 32, in 41:34, who kept another roughly two-minute gap on the five-spot, in the form of Park Falls’ Shari Walker, 44, in 43:26.
There was a Mountain Man class (where wearing a 15-pound backpack and 10 x 46 inch snowshoes is the criteria), and the local expert in this class, Wausau’s Jay Punke (see Punke getting ready for the relay race after winning the Mountain Man event), 52, took home another title in 1:05:16 in running the 10-kilometer distance. Milladore’s Michele Czlapinski, 34, won the women’s version of this event, which is shortened to the 5-kilometer length – one woman and two men did the Mountaineering event, which was very tough to do in the day’s conditions. The 10-kilometer and 5-kilometer races both started at 10:00 am, and just three hours later a relay race was run, where four people on each team did 2.5 kilometers each in a short loop before their day was finally done, handing off to the next teammate.
Cable also hosts a “Hot Air For Hearts Balloon Rally” every year on this weekend on this site to go along with their snowshoe race, and it was two years ago that they hosted the big one, the National Snowshoe Championship. Competitive snowshoe racers from all over the nation were able to see and enjoy this course, and now this has become the annual site for the Braveheart Series Midwest Championship – it is definitely the place to be in early March, thanks to Jim “Braveheart” McDonell organizing the affair.
At the awards ceremony, McDonell also handed out the Braveheart awards (see a close-up of them below), which were wooden carvings he spent dozens to hundreds of hours carving, sanding, and painting them all – much appreciation goes out to him on the work he put into those great awards. The race was a great final warmup for next weekend’s National Snowshoe Championship, to be held at Virginia Meissner SnoPark at high elevation (around 5,400 feet) near Bend, Oregon.
Additional information and results of this race are available at http://www.lakewoodsresort.com/events/sponsored-events/hot-air-for-hearts/raceresults.
See United States Snowshoe Association information at www.snowshoeracing.com.