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My first snowshoe race

Posted by Ross Richards on February 23, 2024

It all started before my wife and I even left the house. With the anticipation of my first race growing, I grabbed my favorite pair of Dion snowshoes with QuickFit bindings. I placed my most comfortable waterproof running shoes into the bindings and changed out the straps to make sure that they fit securely. Dressed head to toe in Dion snowshoe logo apparel, I made the utmost care to ensure that all of my equipment was in 100% working order. Equipment failures are not an option. My wife and I piled into the car, snowshoes in hand, with great expectations and excitement for the race to come. We drove for 2 hours, legs cramping a little with conversation and thoughts of snowshoe racing and all the wonders and joy of winter bouncing through our heads. The drive time was filled with encouragement and anticipation for the race to come.


As we approached the venue, there were cars in the parking lot and we were early enough that we felt comfortable to get in and socialize with fellow snowshoers and supporters of Dion Snowshoes. Typically, Dion Snowshoes supplies snowshoe rentals that are available at the venue. I found many participants are longtime customers and supporters of Dion Snowshoes and really appreciate the sport.  I have been a backpacker and hiker for many years and enjoy long walks and hikes. However, snowshoe racing is relatively new to me. I had never done it, at least not enough to call it anything but frolicking through the woods to have a good time.

Ross and Beth at Gore 

As the start time grew closer, I could feel the excitement building. All decked out in my Dion logo apparel, I definitely stuck out in the crowd with a bright orange Dion shirt, Dion hat and the bright orange special bindings (customized here just for me) as well as my almost new pair of neon orange painted 120 frames. The race start time was 6 o’clock PM. There was a wind chill to the air and we were all pretty cold out at the starting line. I jogged back-and- forth in place and shivered a little bit, pretty much doing anything I could to try to stay warm. The cold was almost as agonizing as the waiting. Those couple of minutes before they shouted “start!” felt like an eternity. Everything running through my head from “how will I perform” to “should I have worn a different cleat?” Etc..etc.. All of these thoughts rumbled and tumbled around in my head. Before I could give them too much thought, the race director shouted “start!”. I began with a nice little jog so as to not overexert myself too quickly.


Not really understanding what my limits were or what my capabilities are, I decided to continue running with my wife alongside me, encouraging me and giving me a pace to keep. My wife has been encouraging me and keeping me in shape and giving me lots of instruction on how to prepare for a race, how to stretch for a race and keep your muscles so that they are feeling nice and loose, warm and comfortable. I finished the first 3 laps of my 5 lap 5K race with no issue. My legs were feeling great. The energy inside me was expanding with each step. I was growing slightly more tired but also slightly more excited. With each lap the excitement and energy in me increased as I just kept my legs moving. Around lap 4, I decided to see what I could do and ran at my own pace. I noticed halfway through lap four that there were now no snowshoers in front of me and the distance behind me was growing significantly. Not significant enough to make me comfortable but significant enough to keep me motivated to run. With each step that I had to slow down on, such as hills, I could hear the flip-flop, flip-flop of the infamous Dion Snowshoes catching up to me from behind. I peeked behind for just a moment and saw my wife slowly but surely closing the gap on me.


As I started to approach the final lap, I decided I’ve been in front the whole time and I just need to increase my lead. So, with the motivation of the flip-flop, flip-flop snowshoe sound behind me catching up ever so slightly I decided to give it “the gas”. I reached deep down inside and gave it absolutely everything that I could muster and for the last lap, I was wheeling. I was running faster than I thought I could, on less energy than I thought I would have and it was great. The feeling was intense leaving me motivated and excited for my next race already.


At the end of the race, I had done it. I had completed a 5K, 3 miles running in snowshoes and enjoyed every minute of it. On top of that, I finished each lap in first place. I really learned my limits on this day and found how challenging it actually is to run in snowshoes. While I did perform well in this particular event, I now realize that I need to train more, stretch often and eat differently, so that I can get a performance level out of my body that matches my snowshoes. As we finally packed our stuff into the car and began heading down the road on the long drive home, my muscles felt relaxed and warm. I felt like I had accomplished a meaningful task and even though I only ran for about 30 minutes. It felt like a large event that took up the whole day. It was on this day that I finally realized that I can be a runner. I can enjoy winter and I do love my Dion snowshoes. I would recommend getting out on your snowshoes.


Whether you’re hiking, walking or running a race like I was, you will not regret it. It’s a fun time and a great way to stay in shape and increase your positivity. Don’t let the depression of winter get you, don’t get into a slump. Stay active, stay healthy, stay running.


Snowshoe runners at Gore Nordic Center