Michelle Hummel (Albuquerque, NM) and Joseph Gray (Colorado Springs, CO), led a strong field that included other elite mountain/trail runners to take wins at the 20th annual Dion Snowshoes U.S. National Snowshoe Championships this past Saturday, February 29. This two decade-old national championship took place two miles above sea level at Colorado Mountain College (CMC) in Leadville. (Photo above by Lauren Swanson – CMC).
Over 180 athletes from 18 U.S. states and three countries competed on firmly groomed cross country ski trails around a 5 km loop with majestic views of high Colorado fourteeners.
Hummel immediately dashed to the front of the field in the women’s 10 km championship race followed closely by eventual second place finisher Amber Zimmerman (Albuquerque, NM). Both athletes were running strong with quick tempo, long strides and never were challenged by runners from behind. Near the front of the women’s field were experienced mountain/trail runners Sarah Gall (Cedar Falls, IA) and Cassy Scallon (Los Alamos, NM) but in the end it was Whitney Spivey (Los Alamos, NM) who took the third step of the podium to make the women’s championship a New Mexico lock out. Another impressive finisher in the women’s race was 49 year old Stacey Hendry (Arvada, CO) who was 5th and top master.
In the men’s race, Gray held off a deep field that included former snowshoe national champions Josiah Middaugh (Vail, CO) and Erik Hartmark (Duluth, MN) as well as former US Mountain Running Team members Josh Eberly (Gunnison, CO) and Scott Gall (Cedar Falls, IA). In the end it was Leadville local Alex Willis who finished in the silver medal position holding off Middaugh who took bronze. Other impressive men’s finishes included 22-year-old Kiernan Nay (Gunnison, CO) who is coached by Eberly. Fifty-three-year old Bob Sweeney (Leadville, CO) finished an impressive 19th place besting dozens of much younger snowshoe runners.
In addition to the 10 km national championship races, the CMC trails hosted a 10 km collegiate championship (20 and over), recreational 5 km race open to anyone, 5 km middle school championship, 5 km high school championship, 5 km young collegiate championship (under 20).
Among all the races participants were snowshoe runners young and old. The youngest finisher in the 5 km recreational race was 9 year old Faith Crowder (Monte Vista, CO). The oldest finisher running the 10 km national championship race as 82-year-old Marlin Smickley (Edwards, CO).
On Sunday, March 1, several dozen snowshoe runners got up early to participate in the always-fun 4 x 2.5 km relay race. Awards were given for top men’s, women’s and mixed teams.
U.S. states represented included Colorado, California, Oregon, Michigan, Wisconsin, Vermont, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, Washington, Iowa, Maine, West Virgina, Alaska, Idaho, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Utah.
Next year’s U.S. National Snowshoe Championships will take place in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where the 2015 championships was hosted.
Watch the video above where friend of ATRA Dan Vega (Colorado Springs, CO) wipes out and recovers during his race on Saturday.
[March 4 Update] race highlight videos created by new ATRA team member and USATF Mountain Running Champion Allie MacLaughlin.