Bring on the Snow!

Welcome back to another season at Snowshoe Magazine.

We are excited about the change in season and what is in store. As with previous years, Sara and I will once again be posting regular blogs here about our winter activities with a focus on Snowshoe Running and Racing. We thought we would start off by giving you a quick update of what we’ve been up to over the non-snowshoe season.

The summer and fall racing season seemed to drag on for a long time, but is now over and time to start thinking about what’s next. The season did have its share of ups and downs, but as always was lots of fun.

I felt pretty good about how the 2009 ultra season went. My mileage for the year crept up to levels that I’d never before thought possible. Training was consistently strong with a number of 20 hour weeks of running and one week up as high as over 25hrs. All the hard work seemed to pay off though with a couple of races that I was quite pleased with.

Finger Lakes Fifty Mile race was held in July in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. This is a beautiful race, but was made super challenging by the heavy rainfalls that occurred during the week of the race. The normally dry and fast course was changed into a muddy quagmire of slop that made running 50miles feel considerably longer. It was very tough going and at times during the race I was sinking into mud halfway up to my knees. I even found myself wondering if snowshoes would have actually been a help. I was pleased how my race went as even though my time was slower than I had hoped for, I was fortunate enough to finish first overall. And I have to tell you that the gourmet meal they had after the race was simply incredible! The meal was enjoyed further by the fact that I won a case of beer from Butternutts Brewery.

After a short period of recovery, I was anxious to get back into training and working towards my target race of Haliburton Forest 100 Mile Trail Run. I seemed to recover from Finger Lakes Fifties very quickly and got in another great block of mileage and long runs.

Haliburton went well. I had three main goals going into the race of breaking the old course record, breaking 18hours and lastly, of repeating in winning the race. The race went quite smoothly and I achieved two of these goals in finishing in second place in a time of 17:52, which was faster than the old course record. Glen Redpath ran a blistering race and won in setting the new course record of 17:18.

I had plans of running the Ozark Trail 100 miler in Missouri in November, but unfortunately had rushed back into heavy training too quickly and have been nursing a bit of a nagging knee injury.

Sara’s season has been somewhat injury riddled as well which started just after her winning the Rock and Ice K-Rock Ultra in March. She was hoping to be able to get back into heavy training and put a couple of her nagging injuries behind her, but she soon found out that she needed a period of complete rest. She did manage to get in a strong race at the Finger Lakes 50km, but took some down time after and is just starting to slowly build back up now while emphasizing lots of rehab.

We have now had some cooler days lately here in Eastern Ontario, with some snow threatening, but nothing to speak of. Hopefully we’ll see some soon though as I’m convinced that a healthy snowfall with a soft blanket of snow is all that both of our injuries needs to get us back out there running lots on our snowshoes.

Derrick Spafford

About the author

Sara Montgomery and Derrick Spafford

Derrick and Sara are trail runners from Eastern Ontario who discovered that running on snowshoes in the winter months is a great way to enjoy their favorite trails year-round. They competed in their first snowshoe series (The Mad Trapper Series in Low, Quebec) in 2005, each finishing 2nd in their respective divisions. Plans for 2006 are to return to the Mad Trapper, to take in some races in New York and Vermont, and hopefully cap their season with the U.S. Snowshoe Championships in March, as Canadian guests. Derrick runs a company, Spafford Health and Adventure (, which specializes in coaching and event promotion. He is currently planning an annual snowshoe race to be held in the Kingston area, starting this winter.

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