Colorado Cup: A Never-To-Forget Adventure for Snowshoe Championships

Colorado Mountain College (CMC), Leadville, promises a thrilling Saturday, January 30, 2016, hosting the Colorado Cup Snowshoe Championships. An exciting—and full—race day at the Timberline Campus includes six different events scattered over 210 minutes starting at 9 a.m. sharp. These events rank high on the winter season schedule since they determine winners of the State Snowshoe Championships.

Along the course notice Mt. Massive ahead on the trail, a 14,000 foot peak, second tallest in Colorado.

Along the course notice Mt. Massive ahead on the trail, a 14,000 foot peak, second tallest in Colorado. [all photos credit Darren Brungardt]

Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Darren Brungardt, a well-known advocate for youth snowshoeing along with race director duties for Frisco’s 2012 Dion Snowshoes USSSA National Championships, said, “Leadville’s rich history of endurance sports will be a great backdrop for the race, and CMC provides miles of trails for the perfect setting for a snowshoe race. Students and faculty groom the trails surrounding the campus and the Mineral Belt Trail,” an 11.5-mile excursion around Leadville.

Leadville achieved its endurance fame with the “Race Across the Sky,” The Leadville Trail (LT) 100 Run starting in 1983. Now a Lifetime property, the race has its heart in founder’s Ken Chlouber famous sayings. My favorites:


Deep snow will be groomed well before the race (just not over the holidays when these images were taken).

“You’re better than you think you are, you can do more than you think you can,” along with “Dig deep into that inexhaustible well of grit, guts, and determination.”

One of four events comprising the Western Slam, along with Western States 100, Wasatch Front 100, and the Angeles Crest 100, LT ranks at the top of the majors. Incredibly the current course record now breaks below 16 hours by 18 minutes, accomplished by the dumbfounding Matthew Carpenter. Growing up in the south (born Asheville, NC, college University of Southern Mississippi) demonstrates that being born in altitude isn’t a requirement for racing well in the land of little air.

One advantage of CMC lies in its associate’s degree in Ski Area Operations, available in its 11 Rocky Mountain locations. Those locations cover some 12,000 square miles with more than 20,000 students. Plenty of knowledgeable students and faculty are on hand, meaning “the grooming process will allow the race to run on trails that are not deep in powder from start to finish, making conditions fast for any level of snowshoeing ability.” Brungardt further points out, “If you are a fan of the steep and deep [and who’s not?] you will also get a chance to track through the finest Colorado powder.”

Out of the gate comes the 800 meter snowshoe run. Then at 9:20, the quick 100 meter snowshoe dash.


Wooded section of the course

The featured longer distance 5000- and 10,000-meter snowshoers then trek off the line. Brungardt’s specialty in college happened in these two distances, though at the University of Northern Colorado he raced track with shoes. The 5 km completes one CMC loop while the 10 km gets two. An aid station is at the finish line.

While that group is on the course the 400 meter snowshoers cover their race.

At noon the exciting 1600 meter medley relay starts with a 200, 200, then 400, completing with a pounding 800.

Finally, during the noon hour, a well-earned lunch and awards combo.

Awards are for the top three male and female finishers in all  sprint races. The boys and girls high school Top 5 will be scored in the 5 km. The race determines the Colorado high school 5 km champions along with boy and girl team championships (based on typical cross-country team scoring).

For the 10 km, age group awards are for 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60 and above.

Find a bargain entry fee: $20 allows sprinters to race in one or all the sprint events, including the 5 km or 10 km.


Plenty of room on the course for passing.

CMC notches high in the 800 two-year colleges: No. 17 in the CNN/Money ranking. Also, the college offers five bachelor degrees, which will continue to increase. What a deal for a bachelor degree now ranked third most affordable in the country.

Brungardt encourages participation saying, “What trail will you leave this winter? Are you a trailblazer or a pavement pounder? Winter snow does not have to be a roadblock to tackle your favorite trail; strap on a pair of snowshoes and go for it.”

Now with this new position at the college, leaving high school teaching, he is enjoying their 13-month-old daughter. “My wife and I are loving life.” Just the perfect outcome for a couple whose snow race carried the title “Love Me Tender Snowshoe Race.” [write]




About the author

Phillip Gary Smith

Phillip Gary Smith, Senior Editor, published "The 300-Mile Man" about Roberto Marron's historic doubling of the Tuscobia 150 mile endurance snow run. He publishes "iHarmonizing Competition" on various forms of competition, including drag racing, his favorite motorsport. Earlier, he wrote "HARMONIZING: Keys to Living in the Song of Life" as a manual for life with chapters such as Winning by Losing, Can God Pay Your Visa Bill?, and a young classic story, The Year I Met a Christmas Angel. His book, "Ultra Superior," is the first written on the Superior Trail ultra-distance events. He mixes writing with his profession--the venture capital world--a dying art. He is a creator of CUBE Speakers, a group espousing themes in "HARMONIZING: Keys" in a unique way. Currently, he has two books in the works.
Write to him at, or find him on Twitter or Facebook @iHarmonizing.

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