Nearly 400 runners turned out for the 13th annual U.S. National Snowshoe Championships on March 1 at Prospect Mountain Ski Area in Woodford, Vermont. The 10K event—for which athletes had to qualify—attracted 384 participants from 22 states and eight countries (the international athletes, of course, were not eligible for the U.S. title).
"For the weekend, Vermont served as the epicenter of snowshoe action here in the U.S.," says USSSA sports director Mark Elmore. "International athletes from Canada, Australia, Sweden, Great Britain, and Brazil participated as well—it was epic!"
Concord, New Hampshire, resident and professional triathlete Amber Ferreira took the women's title in 51:31. Ferreira was the National Champion in 2010, runner-up in 2011, and finished second at the World Championship in Quebec City in 2012. "I had one of those magical races where I could keep pushing my body harder and harder and bringing myself into that deep, dark place," says Ferreira, who had three wisdom teeth removed four days before the race. "I was lucky enough to regain my title back this year."
Eric Hartmark, of Duluth, Minnesota, won the men's race in an impressive 42:20. “I loved the downhill,” Hartmark told Snowshoe Magazine. “The course was packed down and was nice and fast, you could really fly.” Hartmark, now a four-time National Team member, placed second in the 2013 championship, and represented the U.S. at the ISSF World Snowshoe Championships in Sweden in February.
Joining Ferreira and Hartmark on the National Team are the second through fifth-place finishers of each race: Kristina Folcik (Northwood, New Hampshire), Ashley Krause (Easthampton, Massachusetts), Sarah Gall (Cedar Falls, Iowa), and Abbey Wood (Laconia, New Hampshire), Scott Gall (Cedar Falls, Iowa), Nicholas Wheeler (Portland, Maine), Mike Galoob (Peace Dale, Rhode Island), and Jeffrey Quednow (Westboro, Wisconsin). These men and women will have the opportunity to compete in the 2015 World Championships in Canada.
Both races began at 2,250 feet atop nearly four feet of snow and ascended approximately 1,000 feet to the top of the mountain and back down on groomed cross-country trails and packed singletrack. The course was designed by local resident Tim Van Orden, and the race's title sponsor was Dion Snowshoes, based North Bennington, Vermont.
"Vermont was one of five states that I had never been to," Hartmark says. "I wanted to visit for quite some time as I'd heard many good things about Vermont, including the natural beauty of the state. It did not disappoint!"