Snowy Range Snowshoe Races
This was the first year for the Snowy Range Snowshoe Races, and my hopes are that it will become the first annual Snowy Range Snowshoe Races with many more to follow. I won’t make you wait for my review, here it is: What a blast! What a well run race by Alec Muthig of Journeyman Adventures Enterprises. Before I give more kudos, let’s take a look at what the Snowy Range Snowshoe Races are all about.
The Snowy Range Ski Area’s (in Wyoming, just outside of Laramie) main lodge was the setting for the start and finish of all three races. I hate to admit it, but until the snowshoe races, I did not realize that the Snowy Range Ski Area existed. Being from Colorado has gotten me a bit spoiled by the amount of ski resorts right in our own backyard. However, I am also a bit hindered by the amount of traffic on I-70 to and from the resorts. This is the biggest reason that I do not go snowboarding to often. Now I have found a hidden gem in the Snowy Range Ski Area that is less than a 3 hour car ride from my home which also has a great atmosphere with a “small town/local” feel to it. Trust me, under 3 hours is no big deal when traveling to the ski resorts on I-70 when the return trip home can take between 5-7 hours (no traffic: 2 hours). I just knew it was going to be a good day snowshoe racing because as I approached the Snowy Range Ski Area it just had a real low-key, comfortable, and unpretentious feeling to it.
The Races: 5k, 10k, and 20k
The Snowy Range Snowshoe Races consisted of three different races: 5k, 10k, and a 20k back-country adventure. The 5k and 10k acted as the Wyoming State Snowshoe Championships and as the USSSA Junior National Championship Qualifying Races. Hence, this was a prestigious race to be able to offer the chance to qualify to go to the National Snowshoe Championships. Alec on his first running of the Snowy Range Snowshoe Races was able to not just have a snowshoe race, but was able to organize such high quality events that the United State Snowshoe Association recognized them worthy of qualifying races for the 5k and 10k races. For a first annual snowshoe event this is quite the accomplishment. My hat off to Alec Muthig!
20k Snowshoe Race Back-Country Adventure
I can’t speak to the 20k course because I did not race it, but Alec’s description is as follows: 75 percent single track trails with potential for new snow, and 25 percent groomed to semi-groomed trails. Plenty of long climbs and descents through remote areas on the backside of the Snowy Range Ski Resort. The route will include the beautiful and remote Libby Creek Valley and Ridge, with an elevation of just over 10,000 feet! There will be two aid stations that will be fully stocked.
I do know that Alec would not let these brave souls go out on this 20k snowshoe back-country adventure unprepared. If you where brave enough to enter the 20k back-country adventure you must have minimum gear of: 40 ounces of H20, 200 calories worth of food, windproof jacket, long pants shell, hat, a pair of gloves or mittens, emergency whistle, compact emergency “space” blanket, and fire starter. I have a sneaky feeling these minimum requirements might be due to my epic adventure at the 2010 Twin Mountain Trudge.
Snowshoe Races: 5k and 10k
The 10k consisted of snowshoeing the 5k course twice in the same direction. I snowshoe raced the 10k and it sure felt like the entire two laps were all uphill. Alec did planned well for starting line of the Snowy Range Snowshoe Races by having it an uphill start to the single track. What I mean by this is that I have done snowshoe races where the entire pack of snowshoe races go right into a single track and the whole pack of racers are stalled waiting to get onto the single track. In other words the race is pretty much determined in the first few minutes of the race because everyone that did not get onto the single track first now has to stop and wait in line to get on. The race is over.
But not with the Snowy Range Snowshoe Races; with Alec’s start he had us start snowshoeing up the ski slope which gave us plenty of time to spread out before we turn onto a cross country ski trail. The beauty of an up-hill start is that it usually places the racers in the proper order that they are physically capably of racing. And because there was no mad dash to the single track, when we entered the cross country ski trails they were uncrowded and wide enough to pass other snowshoe racers. Then when we reached the single track sections where it is single-file, there was no log jam of snowshoe racers our positions were already determined by our athletic abilities. For me this alleviates the frustration of racers who go to the front of the starting line, but are not capable of being at the start of the line.
Alec did a great job in promoting his first annual Snowy Range Snowshoe Races which was apparent by the group of sponsors he assembled. These sponsors supported the race and had great prizes for the raffle afterwards. The first place awards were medallions made of stained-glass that were locally crafted. In the crowd I overheard a lot of great feedback about them. Personally speaking, some of my favorite awards are the ones that are hand crafted.
Because Hawaiian Shirt Ray is always on the lookout for ordinary people doing extra ordinary things, I have my story from the Snowy Range Snowshoe Races. As I was coming in on my second finishing lap of the 10k course, I saw a female snowshoe racer that was just going back out for her second lap. My finishing time was about 1 hour 7 minutes, which means her first lap was just over an hour. Do the math. . . she was going going to be snowshoeing a negative split and would be out racing for well over another hour. In other words, she was going to be out there for at least 1-1/2 hours finishing her second 5k lap.
This did not seem to be even on her mind because when I saw her she was grinning ear-to-ear and I could tell that she was going to finish her second 5k lap. As we passes each other we cheered one another on and I could see that she was enjoying herself. Well, I have to admit that I forgot about her while we were at the award ceremony. And what a great surprise to us all when she came into the ski lodge during the award ceremony and received a great round of applause for finishing the 10k snowshoe race. And, yes with a huge smile on her face! She is another great example of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Showing (as Ken Chlouber, Leadville Trail 100 says) : “You are better than you think you are, and can do more than you think you can”.
Overall Review Recommendation
This was a snowshoe race excellently planned and run! Alec payed attention to the small details which resulted in a successful running the Snowy Range Snowshoe Races. Alec assembled a great group of volunteers which is an essential element in running a great event. Because of the three different race formats (5k, 10k, and 20k back-country adventure); there is a snowshoe race for everyone at different levels of fitness. Plus, the atmosphere of the Snowy Range Ski Area was the icing on the cake with it’s small-town feeling. I look forward to the second annual Snowy Range Snowshoe Races!