Wednesday, March 10, 2010

US National Snowshoe Champ Interview

Interview w/ Josiah Middaugh who won this past weekend's National Snowshoe Championship (for the 4th time in 10 years).

10th Annual PowerSox US National Snowshoe Championship

Tough course, big field of competitors helped make snowshoe championships at Highland Forest a success

By Garrick Otero

March 07, 2010, 6:13AM

Sunny skies, lots of snow and a big turnout helped make the 10th Annual Powersox U.S. National Snowshoe Championships at Highland Forest in Fabius a success Saturday.
It helped, many competitors said, that the course was among the most difficult they had ever seen. Race organizers laid out a 10K course for both the men and women’s senior championship races (ages 20 and up) that featured a number of hills and varying snow conditions — finishing with a 300-yard uphill stretch leading to the finish line.
“The course was really, really hilly, but we (were) excited to get a real challenging course for nationals,” said Amber Ferreira, 27, of Concord, N. H., who won the senior women’s championship with a time of 54:46.01.
The morning schedule kicked off with a co-ed 5K race for junior competitors (ages 19 and under), followed by the two senior division races. The temperature was 24 degrees at 9 a.m., but rose to the mid-30s by noon.
The fastest snowshoer of the day was Josiah Middaugh, 32, of Vail, Colo. whose time of 42:51.06 comfortably won the men’s senior division. He finished 37 seconds ahead of runner-up, Zachary Rivers, 20, of Victor, N.Y.
It was Middaugh’s fourth national championship. “It was the best competition I’ve seen — ever,” he said. What made matters difficult, he added, was the snow in many places was “soft ... you (had)to work twice as hard.”
The top two finishing Central New York competitors in the men’s senior division was C. Fred Joslyn, 26, of E. Syracuse, who finished fifth with a time of 45:44.80 and Daniel Craighead, 19, of Ithaca, who finished seventh (47:03.04).
The top two local female finishers in the senior division were Nancy Kleinrock, 50, of Trumansburg, whose time of 1:02:44.31 earned her 15th place. Carissa Stephien, 30, of Syracuse, finished 20th with a time of 1:05:12.60.
Most of the course had a snow base of about 12 to 15 inches. During the week, park workers drove over large portions of the trail with snowmobiles to try and pack the snow down, intentionally leaving some parts soft to provide a variety of challenges, according to Mark Elmore, Sports Director of the U.S. Snowshoe Association, which ran the event.
David Geary, 19, of Rochester, won the junior division (ages 19 and under), finishing a full 44 seconds ahead of the runner-up, Scott Smolensky, 16, also of Rochester. Geary ran 28:29.73.
Smolensky and Geary were teammates when they attended Brighton High School’s track and field team. Geary is currently attending Ithaca College. They said their high school track coach, Nate Huckle, introduced them to snowshoe running because it was excellent winter exercise and less likely to cause injuries than running on a treadmill or on pavement.
The two top locals in the 20-competitor, junior division race were Eric Hulbert, 11, of Mexico (41:10.58 for 15th place) and Dan Jardin, 17, also of Mexico (44:04.24 for 19th place).
The national snowshoe racing championships were held at Highland Forest this year thanks in party to lobbying by Chary Griffin, a veteran, national-level snowshoer from Cazenovia who served Saturday as the local race director. Also playing a hand was Elmore. He previously taught and coached at Tully and Lafayette high schools along with at SUNY Cortland, where he attended college.
Last year’s nationals were held at Mt. Hood, Oregon.
A total of 218 athletes ran in the three championship races – a bigger field than initially anticipated, Griffin said. Medals were handed out to the winners. The top five finishers in the men and women’s senior divisions earned places on the U.S. National Snowshoe Racing Team, which competes internationally.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with how everything worked out,” Griffin said. “As the numbers (of athletes and spectators) kept growing and growing we had to make adjustments to accommodate more and more people, which is a wonderful problem to have. And, Mother Nature couldn’t have been more cooperative, with the blue skies and tons of snow.”
Following the three national-level races, an open “Citizen’s 5K” was held. Kyle Dash, 18, of Paul Smiths, N.Y. won with a time of 32:33.19. Many of the competitors ran with free loaner snowshoes supplied by Dion, a snowshoe manufacturer.
The competition concludes today with a Snowshoe Team Relay (4 x 2.5K). The race starts at 10 a.m. Cost is $40 per team. Registrations are being accepted until shortly before race time. Free loaner snowshoes will again be available.

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