Anyone watching the 10-kilometer finish of the Treehaven Tromp (a qualifier for the USSSA Dion National Snowshoe Championships in Woodford, Vt. the first weekend of March 2014) with bells or vuvuzelas didn’t have to wait long to make noise in between seeing some of the top competitors finishing that last stretch out of the woods.
The top male finisher and top female finisher crossed the line less than a minute from each other with the second-place male just another minute behind the first woman. This race was held on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, on another very cold day in the Wisconsin northwoods at Treehaven, which is the outdoor education center for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (photo courtesy of Northern Lites Snowshoes, as both of the ten-kilometer champions were wearing this brand).
Rib Lake’s Bill Bellendorf, 44, was the overall champion of the day with a time of 54:07. The speedy first lady was Green Bay’s Jennifer Chaudoir, 39, who stayed relatively close to Bellendorf throughout (Chaudoir has won a handful of snowshoe races already this season). Bellendorf elaborated on how the 10K race developed:
“The Treehaven course was a mixture of single track and ski trail — it was quite hilly, especially in the 10K. I would say it was firm, but not fast — not real slow either, kind of average. The weather was cold and crisp and about zero degrees at the start of the races — the 10K started several minutes before the 5K got underway. Mike Cavanaugh led our race out of the start with me second and Jennifer Chaudoir in third place. We went into a sugary singletrack for about three-fourths of a mile continuing in the same order racing basically right on each others heels. After that the trail changed to a narrow ski trail and I quickly moved to the front of the race. I think Jennifer did too (in getting by Cavanaugh) but wasn’t sure when she made the pass, as I never looked back until about 1.5 miles into the race. The three of us continued to race together until mile two or so, fairly close but after that Matt faded. Jennifer hung with me until mile four or so when I widened the gap.”
According to Bellendorf’s GPS watch, the course showed to be a tad short at around six miles even (instead of the standard 6.21 miles for a 10K distance). But the challenge of the course neutralized whatever advantage the shorter distance was. Manitowish’s Cavanaugh, 36, finished exactly two minutes behind Bellendorf in 56:07, in second place for the men (but third overall thanks to Chaudoir’s stellar effort). There was a Braveheart sighting in Tomahawk! The Minnesotan creator of the Braveheart Snowshoe Series, Woodbury’s Jim McDonell, 60, took third overall for the men, charging across the line in 59:49.
Superior’s Staci Gilpin, 40, was the second female to cross the line in 1:01:50, in just over one hour. Maple Grove’s (another Minnesotan) Lisa Trainor, 54, rounded out the top three in the women’s 10K, touching the tape in 1:06:53. Trainor is a former overall winner of the Treehaven Tromp 10K women’s race, and showed up with a top three finish again at this qualifying race.
There were 19 finishers in total for the 10K race, and another 56 completed the 5K event. Woodbury’s Rob Class, 53, one of Minnesota’s top Masters runners, won the short race with a time of 25:33, with the fastest pace of the day. A competing youngster from Stoddard, Paul Schmitt, 16, had his sights on Class but finished in second place over a minute back in 26:58. The notorious CJ Snowshoe (government name Jay Punke) took third overall for the men in 28:56, getting to the line another two minutes behind Schmitt.
The women’s 5K saw Rhinelander’s Mary Lucas, 54, take a top spot again with a time of 34:17 (she also won the 10K at the Phillips Flurry qualifier). Age did not let any of the top women slow them down, as the top three ladies averaged 51 years old, and are still whipping the younger crowd, at least at Treehaven. Second overall for these ladies was youngster Barb Wilke, 48, with a margin of 1:34 behind Lucas – Wilke hails from West Bend, and has won a handful of snowshoe races herself in the women’s category. Wilke’s gap was by five-plus minutes over Medford’s Ann Schield, 51, who clocked 41:01 to round out the top three for these veteran women.
The awards consisted of the top three male and top three female in both the 5K and 10K races as well as medals for each age group category. There was also chili and free beer after the race donated by the Rhinelander Brewing Company inside the warm lodge on site (no drones were delivering beer here, unfortunately). The good food and beverages were definitely a nice reward for competing hard on Treehaven’s national qualifier course – folks will be coming back to experience this course again, and will look forward to the incentive afterwards for a job and race well done.
Results and additional information of this race are available at: http://www.tandhtiming.com/assets/2014-age-group.html.
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