The 2022 World Snowshoe Running Championships – A U.S. Team Perspective

Written by trail runner and snowshoe racer Cole Crosby and originally published on his blog. To learn more about snowshoe racing and find a race near you, check out ATRA’s snowshoe page.

Argentina. It is a place where the sun is warm, the people are even warmer, the mountains, deserts, culture of the country radiate and shine as bright as the sun. It is a land of adventure, wide open spaces, wine, tango, leather working, delectable cuisine and of course, now snowshoe running.

21 US athletes along with 11 supporters made the trek to Caviahue-Copahue, Argentina for the World Snowshoe Running Championships organized by Copahue Extremo. It was a long range of flights 7 in total for myself and my wife as we flew from Newark to Dallas, Dallas to Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires to Neuquén followed by a 6 hour bus ride to the race site and then repeat with more connecting flights stateside on the return trip. But in the sport of snowshoe running, these World Championships were as much a trip to experience the culture of Argentina as was competing.

Our US team arrived in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina a week out from the race. We had the chance to experience the vibrancy of Buenos Aires for a couple of days. Buenos Aires is known as a Metropolitan city that blends architectural aesthetics of both South America and Europe with lovely gothic architecture, old chapels, and tons of café restaurants you could see in the main streets of Paris. The flow of South American life was different from ours as late night dinner and mid-day siestas had us having to adapt from our standard 24 hour desires for food/convenience to a more regimented approach. It was worth making some adjustments to the schedule.

From Buenos Aires, we traveled to the city of Neuquén where we left the busy city life for more of a smaller city/suburban vibe reminiscent of a mini-Albuquerque, New Mexico. I personally loved the vast network of trails up the hill from our team hotel as I hit a few headlamp runs up at that network. We indulged in great pizza, pastries, more wine. This is when the trip became more real. Neuquén, was on the border of the Patagonia Region, but our approach to the mountains of the region would soon take shape. We are in Patagonia? It did not seem real, but soon, it would all add up.

Cole Crosby. Photo: Copahue Extremo.

Then the long bus ride. It was here our true adventure began. We loaded up at the bus depot and made the 6 hour trek to Caviahue, into the Andes Mountains and to true Patagonia eye-candy. It was here we mingled with athletes from other countries, Brazil, Canada, France, Spain and more. Our bus broke down just a mere 18 kilometers away from the village of Caviahue. As we awaited a replacement bus, we sat in the valley of massive volcanic snow-capped mountains. After 45 minutes a bus came to our rescue, we had arrived.

Caviahue was like going back into time. Prehistoric trees from the time of the dinosaurs, pristine glacial lakes, dark volcanic mountains, sled dogs in the village, and adorable bungaloos and chalets made up the setting for this incredible event. With 3 days before the race, our team was able to preview the course, be treated to the Parade of Nations, and the dive into the community and family of Caviahue-Copahue. The event was World Class. If you liked techno music, laser lights, big promo videos and just an infectious enthusiasm, this would be your type of event. They know how to throw events and big parties in Argentina. The little eateries our team ate at were awesome especially The Kraken, that one was my personal favorite.

The incredible hospitality from the village set-up our team to run incredibly well on the difficult and mountainous course that gained 1,500ft in the first mile of the race and starting at an altitude of 5,200 feet. It was a series of steep ups and downs running on the snow of these volcanic mountain summits and passes which felt more like the setting of being on the moon than anything else. After the snow had settled, the US showed-up in a big way at these championships helping to continue to solidify Snowshoe running in the world of athletics.

Cole Crosby.

We had numerous World Champions: Jennifer Britz from Bar Harbor, Maine in the Women’s 12K and Two Junior World Champions: Andrew Denial of Saranac, NY for the Junior Boys 5k and Olivia Drowne from West Chazy, NY in the Junior Girls 5k.

Heidi Strickler of Seattle (3rd) and Stacie Minchoff of Plattsburgh, New York (4th), Erika Kuhnle of Grand Rapids, Michigan, (5th) and Myra Klettke of Gladstone, Oregon (6th) made up our Women’s team with our top 3 scoring for the World Title.

Minnesota’s Eric Hartmark (3rd), a veteran of several world snowshoe championships and a multi-time U.S. champion, led the US Men’s silver medal squad with strong efforts from Alex Willis of Leadville, Colorado (8th) and myself: Cole Crosby of Cranston, Rhode Island (11th). Our U.S. men placed seven runners among the top 25, one of our best showings in international competition for us ever.

We concluded the event with a mid-awards ceremony dance party, like out of some movie. It caught almost everyone by surprise but man was it fun. This World Championship was special, being the first running world championship event in Argentina’s history and really gave us athletes and supporters a trip we will always remember.

You see, snowshoe running does not always receive the credit it deserves amongst many circles in the endurance space. But what this 2022 World Championship taught any of us, is that it deserves to have a place at the table. When you finish your marathon season, triathlon, trail/mountain and ultra-running season, why just fret the winter and shut things down completely? Why not try something new? Why not gain access to a community of diverse endurance athletes that are fun, passionate, and talented athletes? Snowshoe running is a melting-pot of endurance athletes. And the sport still humble in its foundations needs more people to give it a whirl. The World is waiting for you to experience it out on the snow.

Find complete race results here.