Snowshoe Running Nationals has always been at the heartbeat of the snowshoe running season here in the US. It is the event that you try and peak for and hope to give your all to close-out a successful winter season. What I have loved most about Nationals, is the joining of our community in one venue, one culminating event.
Nationals is snowshoe running at its finest. Athletes from all over the country come to put their best foot forward as the Top 5 Men and Women Open Division, Top 3 Boys and Girls Division and Top 3 Masters Men and Women Comprise our National team. We are a small close-knit group of snowshoe running enthusiasts but that is what makes Nationals so special. Take it as you will but it is a sudo-family reunion and I just love it.
Nationals has changed a lot since I got into the sport in 2013. In 2013, regional championships and qualifiers were needed to be able to enter into Nationals. You had to finish the event at a specific age-grade to the field to get in. That plus a US Snowshoe membership something near $25 would allow for you to compete for the hardware. The championships would rotate across the different regions each year from the East, to the Midwest, Mountain West and the West Coast. This often gave us a different challenge and different venue to prepare for each season. But as the sport has evolved, gaining more participation has been more important.
Today, it is an even more inclusive process. Anyone can run in Nationals. No qualifiers are needed nor a US Snowshoe Association membership is required to participate. The sport needs to grow and I hope for it to grow and this is just one way to do that.
To run in a National championship, it is usually expensive, but snowshoe entry fees for nationals range in the $40-60 range which includes some sweet swag and great medals. How much is an Ironman in Kona going to cost you??? Answer–in the thousands. Snowshoe is just a great way to be a part of a fun and inclusive community and get to partake in a true National event. Not many can say they get to do that in other sports.
The courses at Nationals have always been exciting too. From steep power-hiking sections like in Bend, to dizzying single-track in Vermont, to the rolling terrain on a snow-covered golf course at Cable, Wisconsin, to high altitude Leadville; the national courses have been incredibly diverse, challenging but also incredibly rewarding.
If snowshoe continues to grow and more media and brands invest in the sport: its athletes, marketing of the sport and help to make it more appealing to the IOC, I can see Nationals becoming more professionalized like the US Olympic Marathon trails.
But for now, it is a small tribe of runners that love to play in the snow. Runners that come from all different types of backgrounds: Triathlon, Xterra, Ultra running, Mountain running, Marathons, Nordic Ski, you name it. That is another reason that makes Nationals so much fun. It is a think-tank of so many other different sports and disciplines that get the benefits of snowshoe running and really goes to show how special this sport can be for building strong aerobic endurance.
The 2022 National Championships are being held back in Cable, Wisconsin where I made the team in 2019 and is back after being canceled in 2021 due to the pandemic. I hope to see many of you there and look forward to sharing my experience. Snowshoe running is a very fun community and I hope you join us at Nationals in the future.