Canadians swept the stage in this year’s ISSF 2015 World Snowshoe Championships at Quebec City’s Winter Carnival. Raced in the beautiful and history-rich city of Quebec City, 10 of the 20 top finishers are Canadian. One of the biggest winter festivals in the world was the perfect stage for this race with its unbelievable ice sculptures, endless amounts of fun for kids and families–and of course the infamous mascot of the Carnival, Bonhomme the snowman.
The grueling urban circuit traced a 2.5km loop that ran through Old Quebec with views of the ice-riddled Saint Lawrence River in the background. This course required four loops by participants in the 10km race–definitely not for the weak-hearted as many participants had difficulty finishing. Unlike a lot of courses that feature hard-packed snow, a recent dumping a mere two days before the race created heaps of loose powder snow for the athletes to compete in.
Primarily made up of uphills and downhills there was no time to rest and relax while running the course and athletes were working hard every single second they were out there. With the wintery wind creating blowing snow at every turn, visibility was low throughout the entire course.
Thankfully the sun was shining as more than 200 snowshoers participated in the event while many more came out to watch and cheer these superior athletes on. Everyone bundled up as the -20° Celsius weather combined with whistling winds on the Plains of Abraham made for a chilly day. The race participants were treated to a high-energy crowd with cheering and clapping throughout this urban route and some participants noted that it was one of the best spectator turnouts they had seen for a snowshoe race.
The championship race highlighted Canadian snowshoers winning first in the both women’s and men’s category. Maxime Leboeuf of Gatineau placed first in the men’s division coming in with a total time of 46:40. He is an active competitor having results in 10 different events over a six month period in 2014. From the 10km Lung Run to the Gatineau Loppet, he has won the majority of those races. An avid cyclist, marathon runner and triathlon athlete don’t expect this man to slow down anytime soon.
A tight race to the finish, Just Sociats of Catalonia crossed the finish just 18 seconds behind Gatineau. Rounding out the top three was Joël Bourgeois finishing with a time of 47:10. Last year’s ISSF World Champion, France’s Stephane Ricard, placed fourth this year.
Sarah Bergeron-Larouche from Trois-Rivières won the women’s division, crossing the finish in a time of 57:28, edging second place finisher Laia Andreu of Catalonia by a mere 13 seconds. Rosa Valls, also from Catalonia took third place. The women’s division featured all new winners for the top three spots this year.
Bergeron-Larouche, in a Doctor of Chiropractic program, also races cross-country. In The North Face Ultra Trail race, September, 2014, she placed an impressive seventh overall, but took first in the women’s class. A newcomer to the snowshoe racing world we can expect big things from this young woman.
Other races included 5km challenges with different age groups ranging from the World Junior Championship for ages 19 and under to a class of two racers in the 70 years and over category.