Should Snowshoe Running Be an Olympic Sport?

Photo Credits Italy Fever.

So I am sure you had the chance to watch some of the recent Winter Olympics in Beijing and was hopefully inspired by all of the Olympians. I always love the Winter Olympics because you get to see sports like Curling, Biathlon, Slalom Ski, and so many other cool sports you just do not normally get to see everyday.

As many of you might know, I love snowshoe running as well as competing in snowshoe running. It is a really awesome winter sport with an incredible tight-knit community around it. From the local races, national championships to the Worlds, it is such a diverse range of endurance athletes that come to the snow to run. So why is Snowshoe Running NOT an Olympic sport? What is keeping it from being one? And of course the answer to do I think it should be an Olympic sport–my quick answer is “Yes”.

So how does a sport become “Olympic”? Citing https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2016/08/09/how-a-sport-becomes-an-olympic-event/?sh=38cffbec2ce9 :

It is a host of a few factors but these are the main few:

  1. The Sport has to have an International Organization or Governing Body. Snowshoe Running fits this as there is the World Snowshoe Federation that started around 2010.
  2. Appeal to a younger generation and wide appeal. Snowshoe Running might have an older crowd, but it continues to grow in participation because the barrier to entry is low. All you need is a pair of running snowshoes or snowshoes at that. As more runners look for ways to stay active and trail running continues to grow, snowshoe is the perfect winter activity to stay fit and “trail run” on those snowy paths that are too difficult to run through on regular trail shoes. Right now, snowshoe as a category has more yearly participation than Nordic skiing and is trending closer to snowboarding. Approximately 8 million snowshoe globally and this number continues to grow.
  3. Global Participation–The IOC looks at a sport needing to have 20 countries on 5 continents that have federations/associations that contest championships. In the 2014 Snowshoe runner magazine article, Snowshoe running was just under with 18 countries on 5 continents but now in 2022 that number is over 20. Here is the article I am referencing: https://www.snowshoemag.com/2014/03/18/why-snowshoeing-should-be-an-olympic-sport/
  4. Here is the big one—$$$$. That is where snowshoe running falls short. Without big media companies televising competitions, a national or international circuit with big brand sponsors like what we see on the PGA Tour, snowshoe running just is not lucrative enough to merit it a place in the Olympics.
Photo Courtesy of Saranac Lake ADK

The catch 22 here is that if Snowshoe was in the Olympics, the sport would explode here in the US and internationally but in order to get into the Olympics, snowshoe running needs more financial backing and support: for the athletes, races, and venues. Without this, snowshoe running will still remain a highly fun and accessible fringe sport.

Imagine tuning into an NBC broadcast and watching an international snowshoe running competition as athletes duke it out for glory to their countries. I can tell you that spectating snowshoe running is actually a lot of fun and it is one of those sports you watch and are instantly amused. It is really entertaining and maybe a little comical but surely entertaining. For kids to watch athletes compete at the highest level in snowshoe running, it would provide a future in the growth of the sport. Snowshoe is about having fun in winter, in the snow. Just that simple premise is something really inclusive about what the sport can provide.

2018 World Snowshoe Championships in Spain. Video on World Snowshoe Federation Youtube.

And that is why I am writing this article. Because snowshoe running is at a cross-roads. It hits many of the marks it needs to be accepted by the IOC but the lack of funding is what is keeping the sport off the list. Hearing that a sport like Ski Mountaineering will be in the next Winter Olympics in 2026 gives me hope that snowshoe can follow. It is very similar in that snowshoe running is more popular in Europe like Skimo but is starting to grow in the US. Snowshoe again has more global appeal in that Skimo needs mountains, snowshoe does not. The fact that warm weather climates can train for snowshoe on the sand, gives it a massive advantage.

There is a lot of potential here with snowshoe running. I have been doing it since 2013 and it has been the secret to staying injury-free and gaining new strength in the winter I can use in my season of ultras. I hope brands take notice, media takes notice and sees this as an opportunity to cut their teeth in a sport that is prime for the taking. Imagine watching a competition with drones showing runners dart in and out through the woods. The courses at the Olympics would offer such a dynamic mix of venue from open stadium sections to wooded singletrack, maybe some mountain summits. It would be exciting for people to follow along.

La Ciaspolada is one of the biggest snowshoe races in Europe. Video on Sportrentino.

So back to the question: Should it be an Olympic Sport?

Yes. Because snowshoe running is the most accessible winter sport available. The cost to do it is similar to running where all you need is a pair of running snowshoes: $100-$300 will get you a pair that lasts years. Most other winter sports run you into the thousands. Snow levels required to run on snowshoes is minimal–about 4 inches of powder offer a nice fast track. You can run on wooded trails, parks, golf courses–really anywhere that has snow on it. Heck, you can even run on sand. If we want winter sports to grow in participation, why not hit a global market of runners that have yet to discover the fun and exhilaration snowshoe running can give to you?

Running through the Snow at the Cockadoodle Shoe 10k. Photo Credits: Jeremy Drowne.

I love the sport of snowshoe running and I hope that more media and companies get behind the sport in the future. In the meantime, I am going to do my best to help advocate for this sport. Because the athletes that compete at the highest level are incredible endurance athletes and the sport truly has changed me for the better. I hope that one day it gets the respect it deserves.

Let’s see where the snow flies…

The New Frontier of Winter Endurance Running on Snowshoes: The Peak Races Snow Devil.

The Peak Races are all about “going beyond your limits”. With the Snow Devil, this snowshoe run is really at the pinnacle of providing a rustic racing experience that tests the toughest winter runners and snowshoers out there. The 100 mile distance, is its pinnacle event where in the event’s 14 year history, only 2 individuals have ever finished in 36 hour cut-off. The race venue is held on Spartan Founder’s Joe De Sena’s family farm, Riverside Farm nestled in the valley of the green lush mountains of Central Vermont with the famous Killington ski resort in its rear-view. The Snow Devil has a wide range of snowshoe distances ranging from the 100 mile Friday morning to 100k, Marathon, 1/2 and 10k, providing a different option for every snowshoer. The course in its 6.5 mile loop boasts a steep 1,500 foot climb out of the gates with rolling terrain on the back half of the course to help shake the legs out after that big uphill push. It is the perfect stage for pushing yourself beyond what you think is possible.

Elevation profile for 45 miles of the course.

After the course had a massive snowstorm dump 18 inches overnight on Thursday and wet icy snow would fall throughout the 100 mile race on Friday, it was looking to be a monumental challenge.

Gearing up for the Snow Devil 100 mile snowshoe race

15 brave runners toed the starting line for the 100 mile at 6am Friday. As we entered into the first ascent, snow falling and headlamps on, we came to a course that was knee to waist-deep in snow that had covered the trail and even some of the course markers. Our brave crew of runners, myself at the front, broke trail through a lap that felt like eternity and truly felt like a Spartan race (with nature as our prime obstacle course). After finally navigating through the first lap, the race was on. As the laps progressed, runners could sip on warm soup and noodles at the nearby horse barn and warm up in the pony house. The snow was wet and icy and made for a technical snowshoer’s course but we were all up to the challenge. Make sure if you decide to take on this challenge- bring tons of supplies: multiple snow shoes, changes of clothes, lots of food, water, towels and blankets as there was no better way to keep moving onto the next lap, then changing into dry socks and clothes-especially during the harshness of the night hours.

Runners were given cots to sleep in over night to recharge from the cold darkness of the woods. The night was a struggle for us all as we fought through our body rhythms, the cold wind chill, and our low energy levels.

As night turned to day, what was once a battle with the solitude of the darkness now became a celebration of warmth and energy. As your body felt reinvigorated with excitement for the warmth of the sun and the buzzing of the other snowshoe runners flocking to the race site now gave us the timely boost we all needed. As I began my 12th lap of 16, I started out with the marathoners and it was one of my best laps as the company out on the trail really gave me a strong boost.

I was the lone runner still going at this point in the 100 mile as the night really battered the other brave snowshoers out there and many decided to do one more lap and then be done with their efforts. Many of these snowshoers had never snowshoed before but put up 50 plus miles onto the board. As I neared the start of my 14th lap, Race HQ notified me that racers would have to start their final lap by 1:30pm. I could keep going on after that but the official finish result would then not be tabulated. With finally the soreness of running 80+ miles on snowshoes catching up to me, our rag-tag crew patched me up and out I went chasing the clock. That 14th lap was a tough one as the snow became slick from the morning foot traffic and I pushed up the steep climb with all the grit I had. It was a lap that was not meant to be for me. My gaiter fell off mid-lap, I had lost my snowshoe up the climb and had some issues sledding down some of the steep and slick descents–then having to retighten my snowshoe. By the time I turned into the field to begin my 15th lap out of 16, It was now after 1pm and I still had two laps to go to get an official finish. We called my effort off at 90 miles or so- 2 laps to go. I would had been 1 lap shy of the 100 + mile finish based on the overall 3:30pm cut-off.

A hard fought time at Peak Races. Photo Credits Lindsey Corak

A bitter end to such a tough and hard-fought effort through 31 hours of downright harsh snow and weather conditions. But that is the ethos of Peak Races. To go beyond your limits, you have to struggle, you have to fight. And fight I did. Through the deep snow drifts of lap 1 to the bitter sub zero cold of the night, to the final laps of the day; I gave all I had and that is what snowshoe ultra running is all about. The finish is not as important as the journey and how you got to your current position. Snowshoe ultra running has the potential to be that “Next BIG winter endurance challenge” out there for athletes and for snowshoers, especially for those that run ultras in the warm months already. It is something like a true winter expedition experience we all can do in our snowy backyards. It comes down to just a matter of grit, some solid snowshoes, and the willingness to push beyond your limits.

The snowshoe season continues–Photo credits Ashlee Prewitt-Crosby

The Snowshoe Racer Mindset: Relentless Patience and Flow

It is time to race. The Snowshoe racing mind-set is a really important part of competing well in snowshoe running that can be applied to other forms of running and endurance sports.

When I first entered into snowshoe running and racing in 2013, I had the shot out of a cannon mentality. I would shoot out to the front from the get-go and suffer the last few miles terribly. Pacing is important, but gauging effort and flow is even more so.

Pushing Hard at the New Land Trust. Photo Credits: Jeremy Drowne

My best race results have come when I have focused on my effort working with the snow rather than against it. You see, my mistake early on was that I was fighting against the snow. I was pushing through it with so much force that I was overloading my body to the point of meltdown. This is where Patience comes in.

Patience in snowshoe running is knowing your pace is going to be slower than a road or trail run. Showing acceptance.

Patience is not pushing when the snow is thick or powdery and pushing when it is more packed and runnable.

Patience is gradually increasing your tempo as the race goes on.

Snowshoe running is already tough and taxing. So why not show patience of effort so that you get the most even spread of effort? Those that are consistent in snowshoe running often do very well. I like to pick one mile where I really go for it and make a move. It is usually one of the miles on the back-half of the race to where then I can push into the finish.

The more you snowshoe, the better you get at feeling out the snow conditions. Is it icy, is it loose, is it wet? Some conditions are just plain slow. Do not force anything. Focus on flow. Focus on moving as smooth and effortless across the snow as you can. The better you practice this, the easier it is come race-day to engage that mindset and have it be instinctual.

Finding my flow on the D&R Canal Towpath FKT.

Where does the intensity come from?

Well that is where the fun is. Staying present in the moment in snowshoe running is important. Every step matters. I try to have each step be one with the least amount of slip and resistance from the snow. The more grip and power you can get in moving forward, the faster and stronger you will run. That mental energy and intensity is also patience in not forcing anything until the timing is right. I personally love downhills in snowshoes. That is a moment for me where I let gravity do its thing and virtually slide down the snow while bounding. It is one of the true pleasures of snowshoe running. I try to stay focused in my running where sometimes in ultras, I zone out for awhile. With snowshoe, I like to stay engaged as energy/effort management is really crucial to having a solid result. The smoother you move across the snow, the faster and with more energy reserves to really push it at the end.

Running on icy snow with my Dion 121s.

Snowshoe running is hard, but man is it fun. There is no greater feeling that what you will feel at the finish-knowing you put out a strong effort.

While in a snowshoe race:

I like to keep my eyes open for other shoers out there and use them as the target. Slowly see if I can catch up to them in a mile. Setting those goals and benchmarks for effort during a race will really help you break up the thoughts of heavy breathing and your legs feeling like they are about to fall off.

I run most of my snowshoe races like a fartlek. I will surge based on the terrain and design of the course every mile for say a minute or two. The idea is to not stay stagnant in your current pace to where your mind wanders into how much it hurts. I have found a little extra push in tempo helps you come out of bad patches where your pace feels like a slog.

Keep those eyes up–Marathon in Snowshoes at 2018 nationals . Photo Credits Mountain Peak Fitness

Have fun is of course the most important part. Imagine you are one of the few that gets to run through the snowy woods like this with others. That there is a community that loves this and wants to get outside in the winter like you is pretty dang cool. There is something to be said about being outside in the winter. For me, it is so invigorating and makes me be able to tolerate different conditions better in my road and ultra races.

To sum up:

  • Run Based on the Conditions
  • Pick 1 move in a race to just “go-for it”-preferably closer to the end
  • Run with the snow, not against it
  • Practice Patience
  • Run by Effort
  • Have fun–especially on those downhills

I hope you enjoyed a little exploration of the mindset of snowshoe racing. Good luck out there this season. And Maybe I will get to see you all at a local snowshoe race soon!

I’m Thirsty…I’m Hungry… A guide to snowshoe fueling and hydration needs.

So you have those new snowshoes. You have snow. You have the gear to go and run out there and have some fun. But now as you get outside to exercise snowshoeing makes you hungry and thirstier than you anticipated. Here are some of my simple observations while out on the snowy trails the last decade.

WE ARE AN EXPERIMENT OF 1.

2019 Half Marathon Champ at Snowshoe Nats in Cable, WI. Chuck Crosby for Photo Credits

The Disclaimer here, is I am by no means a sports scientist, nutritionist or dietician. What works for me may not entirely be the case for you. And my greatest bit of advice is experiment with yourself. You learn by trying and training is the testing grounds to try. Test out how you feel with a gel while out on a snowshoe run. Try drinking some water, or an electrolyte drink. Do you feel better when you do this? How far can you go and feel okay? The list goes on.

The Truths: Snowshoe Running is a very taxing sport. The demands on your body are much higher than a road run or trail run. You burn more calories because of the added weight of snowshoes and moving through the snow as well as the fuel needed to regulate your body temperature. What can derail a perfect snowshoe run or race is LACK OF FUEL. When you are not properly fueled, your body gets cold faster and what once felt like a leisure snowshoe stroll is now an arctic run of survival.

So how do I fuel?

Cole and his Boom Gel. Photo Credits: Ashlee Prewitt-Crosby

When I think of endurance sports and the demands on our bodies, I like to ingest an omnivore diet. What that means simply are fats, carbs and proteins. I have made the switch to whole foods over processed gels and carbs. I am a sucker for avocado (guac) , baby food packets, hummus, potato chips, bananas and olives with feta cheese. I have started using whole food gel options like Spring Energy and Muir Energy and personally love them for where they bring all the nutrients in a easy to carry pouch. Because you burn more than a traditional trail race–I like to have a nice breakfast before a race and snack on something like a Honey Stinger waffle or a Clif Bar before the race. The shorter the race, the more you can rely on your breakfast rather than in-race fuel. I still take a gel or two for a 5k-12k snowshoe race just in case I need a boost of energy.

For efforts in snowshoes-Half Marathon and beyond, you need to approach this like running an ultra marathon. That means, carrying fuel with you, rely on aid stations and get into a routine of taking in calories throughout the race or long effort. Colder weather for me means less GI distress so whole foods that might be harder for me to ingest during a summer ultra I can often consume while snowshoeing. I still go for foods like hummus that are easier to take down, but that is just me. Remember: Experiment of 1.

In terms of frequency, I try to eat something at least every 5k. Usually it is a few gummy bears, a gel, a few potato chips. Not a big serving. Just grazing. Think steady stream of fuel. For a 10k snowshoe race- it depends on how I am feeling. Often I take a gel mile 4-5 if I am really hurting to help me get a second wind into the finish. The hardest part of this is eating while breathing heavy. It takes practice. You can do it. Also remember colder temps can take your favorite candy bar and turn it into a chocolate rock. I like to stash my food in a pocket in my jacket or vest so my warmth from my body keeps it warm.

Hydration.

Hydrating out on my snowshoe run. Photo Credits: Cole Crosby

Yes, you have to hydrate. Sure it is cold out so the thought of sweating does not seem as common as those hot summer runs. But you do sweat and with snowshoe running, not hydrating enough is probably the biggest thing we all skimp on and pay the price. My best race results have been when I have fueled well and been hydrated well before and during a competition. I approach my hydration strategy as such. Say before a big ultra race in the Spring and Summer I drink a 32 ounce bottle of water before hand. For snowshoe, I maybe will drink 24-30 ounces. I think of it as 1/4 less. This has worked for me. For longer snowshoe event, I approach it the same way I would any ultra. Your body needs it. Being hydrated means you will not cramp up as easily and can also regulate your body temp better. I like to sip on water from a small 10 ounce bottle as that has been sufficient in a 12k snowshoe race. For longer snowshoe distances marathon and beyond, having handhelds, hydration pack, or a combination of both work great for me.

Some Hacks of Fueling and Hydrating in snowshoe running.

Insulated bottles, hoses, …Insulation.

A Nathan Insulated Bottle. One Example of what you need for snowshoe. Photo Credits: Cole C.

I cannot stress that word enough. Insulation is your best friend. From the Apparel you wear to the hydration vessels that you use, Insulation is essential. I use hard bottles over soft because soft bottles freeze more easily than hard bottles. Hydration bladder hoses are usually the first to go. You can find insulated sleeves that go over the hose and the bladder for your hydration pack that helps keep things protected but in severe cold temps, hard bottles work better. Insulation. My friends at Nathan make killer insulated bottles. They work amazing in very cold temps. This also protects you from having your hands freeze when you hold or touch these bottles. I like to have my hydration in a pocket, or sleeve of a vest or jacket. Hydration packs work well and I have used a Neck Gaiter to line the pocket of the hydration vest to help add more insulation to the bottle. The nozzles and caps of bottles are critical. I like the Nathan Push-pull caps as they prevent blockages as the push-pull of the cap can also help dislodge any ice build-up. Bite valves freeze easily. Be careful of this. Simple valves are best.

Keep food close to your body. Just like Napoleon Dynamite and his tater tots, keeping your fuel close to your body heat is essential to not bite into a brick.

Pizza in Japan-not what I would recommend to carry in a hydration pack. Photo Credits Cole C.

Preventative measures. You do not have to carry everything with you and the kitchen sink on a snowshoe race or run. But having a little bit of something vs nothing is my main message to bring home to you. Whether that is a gel or two, a small bottle of water or your favorite electrolyte drink, I would bring it along and of course try it out in training first before committing in a race. What you can put in your body before the race and early on will pay dividends later down the trail.

Recovery: I love that good craft beer but recovery for snowshoe is super important. Make sure you take in some calories lost in a hard effort. I like to add more foods that are salty and savory here to replenish my fats, proteins and carbs used as fuel. Whether that is a protein shake, a recovery drink, smoothie, you name it; I like to get a nice balanced meal or snack after that hard effort along with hydration (water first, beer later). Roll out your legs and muscles and take care of yourself over the next few days. This should help you work out any of the stiffness and soreness associated with crushing a big snowshoe run effort.

First Beer off the plane in Tokyo Japan for the 2020 World Snowshoe Championships. Photo Credits: Cole C.

I try not to overcomplicate things with fuel and hydration. Listen to your body and try to give it the fuel and hydration it needs. See what works best for you and know that we are constantly evolving and changing. So what might have worked for you 5 years ago may need some revision in the here and now. Experiment of 1. Go out there and have some fun.

Happy shoeing!

Struggling at the 2017 World Snowshoe Championships in Saranac, NY. Photo Credits: Mountain Peak Fitness

I Have Snowshoes. What do I wear???

Covered in Snow at the Highland Forest 10k In 2013. Photo Credits: Ashlee Prewitt Crosby

So you have your first pair of running snowshoes. You just received that first winter snow storm and you are itching to get outside and try those snowshoes out. But the next thing to consider is what to wear?

From my time snowshoe running, this is a much more important topic than you think. It is also one that could go down many rabbit holes, so I will try and be as concise but also as developed as possible. Snowshoe running is an amazing activity for us runners and it takes us away from the treadmills and out into Mother Nature to enjoy some brisk, cold winter landscapes. But like anything, there are risks associated with not dressing properly.

The big one is frostnip and hyperthermia. Snowshoe running kicks up snow and that snow like in my photo up above winds up on your backside. Often being out in cold temps and nasty wind chills, moisture is your enemy. But as we exert ourselves in snowshoes, it is pretty hard not to work up a sweat. Luckily, shorter runs and races, you can often get-away with wearing less. For Snowshoe marathons and ultras, approach this from the preparation of something like a 100 miler. It is always better to have more gear and changes of clothes with you to one of these races than to be stuck shivering to death. Here are some of my bullet-point tips to have an enjoyable time out on the snow:

  1. Focus on Layers and insulating your backside.
  2. Wear gear that sheds water–Breathable water repellency is often better than waterproof.
  3. Softshell jackets are a thing of beauty.
  4. Practice what you wear in training so that you can race well.
  5. Do not overdress
  6. Extremities are more important than you think.
  7. Merino Wool Socks and Gaiters-give them a go.
  8. Vests can be the best.
  9. Do not forget about good underwear.
  10. The hood can be your saving grace.

Everyone runs different in terms of how they heat-up and how much. Snowshoe running is a high-intensity aerobic activity. Often when I finish a race, steam is radiating from my body. You exert and lose a lot of heat. Some may need more layers, others, may not. When you look at most snowshoe races, racers are not wearing that much. For most, that is because you heat-up quickly and for a shorter distance of 5k-10k, you are outside for maybe 20 minutes to 2 hours so accumulated “dampness” that might occur is not as great as a long endurance snowshoe event that spans 4+ hours.

Snowshoe Nats in Vermont. Photo Credits: Michael Lake

Layers, Layers, Layers. A great baselayer is where it starts. I love my Craft Baselayers and have been wearing them ever since I got into the sport. A blend between Wool and Synthetic is good though I often slant more to a synthetic as wool, I feel is better in keeping moisture from entering in. You want breathability here, a next to skin type of fit and something that is warm and insulating even when wet. This is your primary defense in feeling comfortable snowshoeing. After that, I usually wear a thermal midlayer (one with a hood) and then some type of windbreaker, softshell running jacket, or a light insulated vest or shell vest. The goal with your layers are to breathe and move moisture out from your body. Zippers are great to ventilate but BE CAREFUL: In very cold temperatures, venting too much when you are sweating and really cold can flash-freeze yourself and you are more likely to get frostnip and/or suffer from hyperthermia. Once it gets below 20 degrees F, is when I start to think about adding another layer-maybe a t-shirt underneath my midlayer. Sub zero requires a much different approach often looking to focus on wind-blocking and thermal wear that traps more body heat. Buffs are a must-have in those cold temps to protect your neck and face.

Got my Winbreaker on.

Wear gear that repels water. Some Might run with a waterproof jacket. You can but I prefer breathability because if it is cold enough and you sweat enough underneath that Waterproof jacket, the moisture could collect and refreeze inside your jacket. A breathable windbreaker in my opinion works better. Tights are important. I like wind tights or pants that are made of a softshell material or a hybrid of thermal fleece with wind panels. These are great as they keep snow from collecting on you. You can find these types of pants on Amazon but I am partial to brands like Sugoi or Craft.

I like softshell material because it incorporates stretch, is thicker and warmer than your regular light wind shell a lot of us runners use. I get cold easier than others so warmer layers work great for me. Softshell material you often find in outdoor brands like Patagonia, The North Face, Columbia Sportswear, Mammut, Marmot and others

A cool Tiger softshell jacket I got while in Japan for the World Snowshoe Champs in 2020.

When I train in snowshoes, I often wear more than what I would race in. The reason is to experiment with different layering systems to find out what works best in what conditions. Then come race day, I can really be selective with what I wear. Each article of clothing has a distinct purpose that is different from the next. That way, you are not just throwing layers on to throw them on. Remember, you want to be mobile too.

Do not overdress. Most athletes in snowshoe running race in a lightweight longsleeve shirt with a singlet over it, winter beanie, gloves, and tights. You can wear this and be just fine. We warm-up like 10 degrees from the air temperature so try and dress accordingly. Again, any of your winter running outside is a try-out period to get your snowshoe outfit dialed in.

Extremities. Gloves , hats, socks. We lose a ton of heat through our head and hands and feet. Investing on solid gear here is in my opinion crucial in snowshoe running. Winter beanies are easy to come by and most will do just fine. I do like merino wool blended hats here as wool blocks some of the water molecules from entering and that means your noggin stays warm longer. In real cold, hats like my orange Dion hat has fleece on the inside and that helps keep me warmer longer. For gloves, I look to ski brands like Spyder or Nordic ski brands like Hestra, Swix for my gloves. I also love the gloves that can be mitts. The convertible gloves into mitts are awesome and I use most of the time for snowshoe running. If your hands are warm, you can open up the mitt and run with the glove, but mitts are always warmer than regular gloves. I have even been using insulated gloves like from C.A.M.P that are amazing for those long or sub zero temps. I often look to the gear used in Nordic Skiing as inspiration for snowshoe running, especially with gloves. With socks, I usually wear 2 socks: One that is a synthetic running sock or compression sock then a merino wool-blended sock over that one. The merino keeps out moisture and even melted snow that might try and come into your shoes.

2019 USA Snowshoe 1/2 marathon champs.
My favorite socks! Fits Socks

Your feet are crucial. I have been with Fits socks as an athlete since 2012 and love their merino wool blended socks. Wool is warm, anti-stink and repels water so in many ways a perfect fiber for protecting your feet with snowshoe running. Gaiters are great too. For my snowshoe 100 mile run, I am looking into buying water-proof hiking gaiters that are lightweight but can protect my feet as well as my legs from all of the snow that gets kicked-up. The longer you go in snowshoes, the more likely that fighting moisture through sweat and from melting snow on your body becomes more of a task to manage. Great gaiters can help protect you for the miles ahead.

Vests are best. Why do I love vests for snowshoe running? They are that layer that has less fabric than a standard jacket, and they help insulate your core. Vests come in all types of styles from Down, Synthetic Down, Softshell, Hardshell, Wind-breakers, and Fleece. I like the vests that are water resistant. Block out that moisture. Synthetic down is great in colder temps as it still keeps you warm when wet, whereas standard down loses its loft and properties the wetter it gets. Vests are easy to put on and off, and I find can be that one extra layer that just makes snowshoe running enjoyable in -20 degrees F vs freezing to death. Vests also do not restrict your movement so I find are great for running.

Cockadoodle Shoe wearing my green Mammut Vest. Photo Credits: Ashlee Prewitt-Crosby

Good underwear?? Really Cole??? Yes , really. I am not saying go to a designer store and get some undies. But hear me out. Just that like that core baselayer you have up top, do not forget about your bottom. Both are equally important. Remember, you are going to kick-up snow. And in doing so, your bottom is suspect to getting pretty dang cold as that snow melts on the outside. I like to go with something that breathes and is synthetic. No cotton, but wool blends can work here. Craft (not to be an add for them but they do it really well) has a wind boxer that has changed my life. It can get wet and still feel warm. The front also has a windproof shell that protects those “parts” that you would never want to get frostnip on. Can you get away with regular polyester underwear? You can but I would rather spend a little more money on something that is going to keep my bottom from going numb on a long snowshoe run or race.

And lastly the hood. As my midlayer, I wear a thermal jacket or 1/4 zip that has a hood. Just by having a hood go over your head, you can warm-up significantly up to something like 5 degrees F. That is huge! With a hood, you also have the option of taking it off if you are overheating. With these types of midlayers, I like outdoor companies. They offer mountaineering fleece midlayer jackets with hoods that are lightweight, thermal, and have the “tight” hood that fits snug around your head. I love those because you do not want a big hood flopping in the wind. Ushood, a sponsor of the USA Snowshoe Running Team has these really cool baselayers that cover-up your face completely like a ninja. They are great for cold-weather snowshoe runs and races.

My Ushood for World Snowshoe Champs in Japan 2020

And that is that. This really is just a start to the dialogue of what to wear. It can be as simple and as complicated as you make it. Just know that wearing items that keep you warm and dry will be the magic ticket to logging tons of miles out there this winter.

Happy Shoeing!

To the Finish at the Highland Forest 10k