Winterfest Fun at Mendon Ponds New York

Cold created by winter combined with a feast styled the 2008 version of the Mendon Ponds Winterfest. Only thing missing was an abundance of snow for the United States Snowshoe Association’s Qualifier. So, a run over partially snow covered fields had to do, but the results . . . they were the same.


Jeff Beck once again, as in 2007, led the way and won this years overall gold race on Sunday, January 20th, with a 35:51. The 2007 National Championship runner-up also is a member of the USSSA National Team.

Zach Rivers, now competing in the Seniors Group, got to follow Jeff ‘cross hill and dale, through forest and meadow, as so many have in previous years, finishing in 38:55. In 2007 Zach won the Junior Class in a time that if compared with this run (the Junior distance is 5km) would’ve been about the same separation. Zach, a two time member of the National Junior Team, and Championship Race Runner-up, is a future star of the sport.

Both Jeff and Zach have byes into the National Championship race yet support the Winterfest and the USSSA by competing in this regional qualifier, showing their sportsmanship and class and notching up the entire competition with their participation.

Jason Urckfitz took third some 21 seconds later.

Women’s overall was won by Michelle Weiler at 45:00 repeating her 2007 gold effort. Kellie Gregoire took silver followed by Kate Callahan a few moments later.


Jake Mullen won the overall gold at 22:14, followed closely by Jurag Culak who moved up from fifth place in 2007. Third place, won by Jerry Kosoff, was interesting as David Geary, Ryan McCullough, and Alex Decker all registered the same finish time. Jeff Green followed with a 26:19


Gary Dill won the overall with a finish of 25:59, followed next by Mike McCullough and Gregory Drumm and Vern Hecker.

First place woman, Mari Rivers, fifth overall, was followed by Crystal Farney. Jan McCullough and Eileen Weinpress reflected this finish order but the same times of 37:04


Mendon Ponds Park is a famous National Natural Landmark. Located off the New York State Thruway, the early part of the cross country Interstate 90, this 13 year old winter festival is definitely family. Ken Hann, Winterfest organizer, says, “Enjoyment of the outdoors for families who like being outside” is the theme. “The idea is to get people excited about winter activities.”

This NE Regional National USSSA Qualifier is part of the 21 race calendar conducted throughout the winter to choose the competitors for the National Championship Race to be held in its 2008 edition at the Snowbasin Resort, Ogden, Utah, March 8th.

Even though participants didn’t get to wear their Crescent Moon Snowshoes, a sponsor of the race, because of the dearth of snow the warm food and pleasant beverages provided by Hogan’s Hideaway made the spirit of the event, “Enjoyment” as Ken Hann would say it, balmy indeed.

Mort Nace, Co-Race Director, said this year would “be going back to our no frills format.” Memo to Old Man Winter: snow is not considered a frill.

For more information:
Mendon Park Winterfest:
United States Snowshoe Association:
Ultra Supeior:
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.