Deep powder and fickle spring clouds yielding to mostly sunny skies met the roughly 200 racers as they lined up at the start of the Jeremy Wright Memorial Snowshoe Race, the third and final race in the Snowshoe Edition of the Beaver Creek Running Series, on March 2 in Beaver Creek, Colo.
“If the weather holds, this will be a nice way to celebrate the last race of the season,” said Jeremy Gross, the race director, during the final race preparations.
To get to the start, racers rode the Strawberry Park lift up to McCoy Park, Beaver Creek’s Nordic ski area, for a true high elevation racing experience—the course started at about 9,800 feet and climbed to more than 10,300 at the highest point. The 5K racers dealt with almost 700 feet of elevation gain, while those running the 10K suffered through 1,500+ feet of climbing.
Adding to the already challenging course was seemingly bottomless fresh snow–almost a foot of fresh fell overnight, on top of another foot of from the previous day. Powder sections were deep and slow going and groomed sections were pleasantly soft, without a step of hard pack for the day. The entire field of racers had less than a quarter of a mile to thin out before tackling the first section of single-track powder, making groomed sections the only real option for passing and making time on competitors. Even front running racers fell into deep powder stashes and were appreciative of a pull back to their feet.
Josiah Middaugh won the 10K in 1:10:10. His win also secured his sweep of the series. Second place for the day went to William DesPortes, who crossed the line in 1:12:02 with G. Anthony Kunkel crossing the line in 1:13:04 for third—however he was the first, and only, racer to finish the snowy route in a pair of shorts.
“This race actually gave USATF Cross Country National Championships (held in Boulder, Colo. this past February) a run for its money as the most fun I’ve had all winter,” Kunkel said. “It makes me want to try more snowshoe racing.”
In addition to the 5K and 10K races, there was a Kids’ 1K, a raffle, lunch and even free advice from the announcer. “Whatever you do today, don’t try to walk backwards in snowshoes.”
Racers were able to demo Atlas snowshoes and all series participants received a technical hoodie from The North Face.