The 20th annual Dion Snowshoes U.S. National Snowshoe Championships weekend starts today at 10,151 feet above sea level in “Trail Town” Leadville, Colorado. This will be the second time this national championship has come to Colorado, Frisco hosted in 2012, and the first time it’s been contested at elevations above 10,000 feet. Long a popular winter racing event for trail runners, “snowshoe nationals” has come to ten U.S. states since the first edition was organized in Plattsburgh, NY by the United States Snowshoe Association. Since then, the country’s best snowshoe racers have also contested overall and age group championships in Alaska (2005), California (2004), Oregon (2009 – pictured top of page – 2013, 2017), Utah (2008, 2016), Minnesota (2007), Wisconsin (2011, 2015, 2019), Michigan (2002) and Vermont (2006, 2014, 2018).
More than 140 hardy snowshoe runners will converge on Leadville today to preview the 5 km and 10 km courses laid out on the campus of Colorado Mountain College in advance of tomorrow’s races. Anyone interested in learning about snowshoe racing can attend the vendor expo from 11 AM to 6 PM at the Climax Molybdenum Learning Center on the CMC campus. Race registration is also available at the expo and on race day.
Saturday’s races will take place on a 5 km loop that starts 10,054 feet, tops out at 10,177 feet and has a lowest elevation of 9,945 feet above sea level. Athletes in the 10 km national championship races will complete this loop twice.
Saturday’s schedule will kick off with a kids’ 1 kilometer race at 9 AM followed by the 5 km citizens’ race where anyone is welcome to participate. This is a great opportunity for anyone new to snowshoe racing to experience this great sport. Next up on the schedule will be a 5 km national championship race for middle school, high school and young collegiate athletes. This will be the first year there will be national champions named in these categories. The showcase events with the largest number of registered athletes will be the mens’ and womens’ 10 km national snowshoe championships. Within these races, collegiate champions will be named for the first time by the Collegiate Running Association.
On Sunday morning, the ever-popular and spectator-friendly 4 x 2.5 km snowshoe relay races will take place at 9 AM. This fast-paced, competitive race will be a great way for athletes to cap off their snowshoe racing season with a lung-burning sprint.
Among those athletes registered for the races are a number of elite mountain/trail runners and former world & national snowshoe champions. The 2017 U.S. National Snowshoe Champion Michelle Hummel (Albuquerque, NM) recently won the World Snowshoe Championships in Myoko, Japan and will be a favorite to win on Saturday. A challenge to Hummel could come from former Barr Trail Mountain Race winner Sarah Gall (Cedar Falls, IA) who has been a perennial top finisher at this race.
A favorite in the men’s race has got to be 2016 & 2019 World Mountain Running Champion Joseph Gray (Colorado Springs, CO) who has also won world and national snowshoe championships. Also look for multiple national snowshoe champion Josiah Middaugh (Vail, CO), former US Mountain Running Team members Scott Gall (Cedar Falls, IA), Josh Eberly (Gunnison, CO) and Andy Ames (Boulder, CO).
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