The trial of miles; miles of trials.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tahq. Snowshoe 10K

Racing raw: to race with no experience, no guidance or with minimal to no training.

I love racing raw. To me, racing raw is an act of purity. I ran this race raw and it felt fantastic. Six days prior to the race I received an email from Great Lakes Endurance inviting me to register for this inaugural snowshoe race. I had recently seen pictures of a similar race that was run in Traverse City and I wanted a piece. I immediately secured racing shoes and registered for the race. The day before the race I donned my Crescent Moon 12 racing shoes for the first time ever and covered a quarter mile or so with them. They felt nimble underfoot and narrow enough for me to run with a normal gait. I estimate the learning curve of running in snowshoes to be zero.

I had hoped for a solid race atmosphere and was keeping my fingers crossed for a field of at least a couple hundred, but deep down I knew better. When I pulled into the Upper Falls parking lot I was not surprised in the least to see only a dozen or so cars. As promised they had an outdoor fire at the packet pickup booth but with the sheer lack of participants, there just wasn’t much excitement in the air. I sat in the car watching my competition warm up as my kids crawled over the seats and complained about being bored. Guys were gearing up with hydration systems and stocking feed bags on their bodies. Part of racing raw is being ill prepared. I didn’t feel the need to warm up or carry water on the course. Ten minutes before the race I walked over to the start/finish, strapped on my snowshoes and listened to the race director make announcements. As it turned out the course had been changed due to the brutal warm up we had last week. Subsequently, they had removed a portion of ungroomed trail from the course making the course a single groomed 5K loop. I had to run two loops on the course and my first thought was that I hoped I would not get lapped. The trail wound its way through beautiful old growth stands of Hemlock, Cedar and pines. It was relatively flat but there were a few ups and downs. My favorite part was the road crossings.

The race consisted of three distances, 5K, 10K and 20K. I originally felt like a sissy for not doing the 20K, but I didn’t want to blow myself out and ruin a week of training…but at that moment I was happy not to be doing 4 laps on the course. The filed consisted of maybe 25 people, but I’m still not sure how many en each distance. Apparently they had a numbering system that distinguished the respective distances but I was unaware of it pre-race so I had no idea who my competitors were. The race results are still not posted.

We all towed the line together like a pack of wolves and seconds prior to the gun I scanned over my surroundings and thought to myself, “what the hell am I doing?” I felt like I was in some Nordic event in Scandinavia. Seconds later I was in a fury of flying snow, my ears filled with sounds of clicklity clack. There was a clear surge of about eight guys that looked like they knew what they were doing, one of them was fully decked out in Redfeather gear, head to toe. I settled in to a slow pace as I got my bearings on the aluminum hoops attached to my feet. Just like Jack described, I thought the pace was slow so I waited for an opening on the trail and aired out my strides. I made a few quick passes and then settled into a pace just outside of my comfort zone. I ran down a couple of guys within two miles and never saw them again. For much of the rest of the race I would run it alone. There was one guy lurking behind as I started the second loop. I felt like he was reeling me in. I tried hard to shake him, but couldn’t. Within the last mile he started to make his move, I decided to back off and let him by with the intention to stay with him and take him down on the final kick. As he came up beside me he asked what distance I was running. I told him 10K and when he told me he was running 20K I could feel the relief wash over me. We both backed off and chatted the whole way to the finish of my race. He thought I had the 10K locked up, but unfortunately I had to settle for second place.

I congratulated the 10K winner and he told me that he got his “ass handed to him” in the Traverse City race so he had been doing 30 miles a week in his shoes ever since. I told him it was my first race in snowshoes and I think his heart skipped a beat. For the record, the course was so hard packed I could have easily run it in bare feet. It was a fast course, that’s for sure. You put me in off trail or powder conditions and it would have been extremely difficult! I enjoyed the race, but needed a bigger field to make it really fun.

2011 Tahquamenon Snowshoe Race Results


1 0:47:29 Kanitz Lee Hessel MI M30-39 1 1

2 0:50:10 Remus Matt Dewitt MI M30-39 2 2

3 0:53:08 Bath Bill Petoskey MI M30-39 3 3

4 0:59:16 Courtright Robert J Traverse City MI M50-59 4 1

5 1:11:30 Courtright Janet Traverse City MI F50-59 1 1

6 1:16:07 Recker Peggy Lake Isabella MI F40-49 2 1

7 1:18:36 Lowry Sean Brighton MI M20-29 5 1

8 1:22:09 Lammers Denise Grass Lake MI F50-59 3 2

9 1:22:09 Lammers David Grass Lake MI M40-49 6 1

10 1:25:51 Holt Kathryn Atlanta MI F40-49 4 2

11 1:25:51 Owens Ursula Lewiston MI F40-49 5 3

dns Sauve Angela SaultSte. Marie ON F30-39

dns Haley Carmen Sault Ste Marie MI F30-39

dns Babic Tianna Sault Ste. Marie ON F40-49

dns Scali Liza Sault Ste. Marie ON F40-49

dns Brose Mark Minneapolis MN M40-49


1 1:28:22 Tarras Kevin Grawn MI M20-29 1 1

2 1:29:43 Dehlin Daniel Marquette MI M30-39 2 1

3 1:43:59 Fudala Jason Gladstone MI M30-39 3 2

4 1:45:30 Holmes Jr. Steven Swartz Creek MI M20-29 4 2

5 1:54:04 Wilson Keith Marquette MI M20-29 5 3

6 1:59:12 Williams Gabe Roscommon MI M30-39 6 3

7 2:00:59 Panek Eric Frankenmuth MI M20-29 7 4

8 2:05:32 Johnston Judd Marquette MI M50-59 8 1

9 2:29:16 Gillissen Jerry Lansing MI M60-69 9 1

10 2:33:50 Lee Donovan Gladstone MI M30-39 10 4

11 3:06:47 Kassner Lee Two Rivers WI M40-49 11 1

dns Boutin Jocelyne Sault Ste. Marie ON F50-59

dns Przystas Scott East Lansing MI M20-29

dns Ford Peter Lansing MI M30-39

dns Darling Samuel Muskegon MI M30-39


1 0:34:29 Nicholas Heidi Traverse City MI F30-39 1 1

2 0:34:48 McCauley Muffie Wolverine MI F50-59 2 1

3 0:42:26 McNamara Erin Newberry MI F30-39 3 2

4 0:52:49 Wallace Jennifer Skandia MI F30-39 4 3

5 0:57:07 Winston Courtney Royal Oak MI F20-29 5 1

6 0:57:12 Lantis Dan Fife Lake MI M50-59 1 1


  1. Great job, 2nd place is sweet. I wish you would have had to run on top of 24" of powder though.

  2. Take the luck when you can get it man. Sounds like it was a good one to do first. If you like a big field of racers, you would love it here. I hate it. Was it required to wear snow shoes? I figured with the hard pack, dudes would just wear yak trax. Is that your first trophy?

  3. Congratulations on the Race! I love the report too! Are you liking the Crescent Moons? I love how snowshoe racing sorta adds a whole new sport to winter. Did you find out what happened to Redfeather man?

  4. holy chit bauls. that is awesome. I've never heard of such a race.