The last National championships that I had the chance to run was back in 2019 at the same venue of this years’ running: The Lakewoods Resort in Cable, Wisconsin. It was a course I have known well with both a win in the Half-marathon and a 5th place (national team) finish in the 10k in 2019. This course and venue has treated me well and it was really exciting to be back after such a long hiatus due the state of the world around the Covid-19 pandemic. Without having Nationals on the calendar the past year or so, I have been yearning for that connection with the snowshoe community that I love so much.
For those that do not know about snowshoe running, take the community feel and openness we see in Trail and Ultra running, shrink it down and make it even more inclusive, laid-back, fun, and close-knit. It really is a special community. Snowshoe runners come from so many different endurance disciplines from Triathlon, Road Racing, Cross-Country, Nordic Ski, Trail/Ultra running, Ski-Mountaineering, and Mountain running. That diverse range of endurance experiences really lend such a rich and unique family of athletes tied together by running over the snow. The Lakewoods Resort offered a wonderful rustic experience of the Wisconsin Northwoods but with amenities such as a nice bar/restaurant, a heated pool, arcade, hot tub, and tons of cabins and rooms for the whole family and for groups.
The Course: Similar to 2019, the course would wind through an approximate 5k loop (ran a little short) out on the rolling terrain of the now snow-covered golf course twice to get the 10k distance. It is a fair course as the series of ups and downs are never too steep but steep enough to throw you out of a rhythm. If you can “ride the wave” of the rolling terrain, you will do well out there.
Nationals is a celebration of our sport and it truly is the pinnacle of snowshoe racing in the United States each and every year. This year the Top 5 Ladies, Men, and Masters runners would be given the “National Team” designation. A great field of snowshoers came from 15 states ready to shoe and compete for those top spots.
The course conditions were tough as a few inches of fresh snow dropped onto the course overnight making it tough to find the right footing as at times the snow mimicked the feeling of sand.
That did not stop the top shoers from running fast from the start and putting on quite a run. Eric Hartmark, a multiple-time National Champion took to the front and put on a “Masterclass” performance out on the course.
After a fast first loop, Eric was out front and I was trailing behind about 40 seconds back. I gave my best effort to close the gap to Eric but he was just too strong. Eric would pull away for the win in 37:57 to my 39:44 finish time. Course knowledge and snowshoe experience played a big part in the performances of the athletes as the choppy snow could easily sap the energy out quickly. The remainder of the Men’s National Team was: Jeffery Quednow in 3rd (40:41), Ryan Edwardson 4th Male (42:14), and Kelly Mortenson as 5th Male (42:35).
The Ladies race was incredible to watch. From my perspective, on the second loop, I caught glimpses of the top 3 women running at a pace that looked like a run-away freight train and definitely put some extra pep in my step out there on the course.
2020 World Champion, Michelle Hummel took to the front (in black) and put on a ferocious pace. But as the course wore on, the ladies at the front had quite the battle.
Michelle Hummel and Jackie Hering pushed one another up and down the hills on the backside of the course until Jackie had just that little extra push to take the title as National Champion. Jackie’s time of (41:50) placed her 4th Overall to Michelle’s 7th Overall (42:24) . The remainder of the Ladies National team comprised of: Amber Tookey in 11th overall (44:18), Viki Chavez (47:00) 15th Overall and Amber Ferreira (47:32) 16th Overall.
Along with the National 10k, there was a Kids run, 5k, Evening snowshoe hike the night before and a wonderful awards ceremony.
What a great weekend to be back at Snowshoe Nationals. Along with great performances out on the course, just the time spent re-connecting with members of the community after such a long time away was truly the warmth we all needed.