Race Recap: Bigfoot Snowshoe 5K

Knock, knock!
+++Who’s there?
+++Yeti who?
Yeti ‘nother new experience…

Boo! Bad joke! Brain hurt!
Boo! Bad joke! Brain hurt!

This year’s race calendar includes a number of “firsts” for me, and the first of these firsts was the Bigfoot Snowshoe Race in Traverse City. We go up north frequently in the summer but not too often in the winter, and the snowstorm greeting my arrival reminded me why. But I made it safely to Running Fit to pick up my race packet and then to my aunt and uncle’s for the night (thanks again!).

Buy the shirt, dude...or I release my buddy here.
Buy the shirt, dude…or I release my buddy here.

I declined the T-shirt, (it cost extra and was cotton), but spotted a long sleeve tech top (shown here) with the race name on it. It’s a Heater Hog, I was told, designed for under 40 degrees, was “the perfect top for the race” and was 20% off. So, what the hell… Per their advice it was the only layer I wore under my coat, and to my surprise, I was comfortably warm during the race. (In fact, I wore the same outfit for a recent long run, and was actually too warm.)


Ready to startThe race was at Timber Ridge Resort, just outside TC, with log lodges and great land for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Race morning was overcast and in the low 20s, and the snow on the ground was deep and powdery – perfect conditions. The rented snowshoes ($20 with registration) were smaller and lighter than expected, and surprisingly easy to slip into.

As this was my first time ever in snowshoes, let alone the first time racing in them, I lined up near the back so not to get in the way of the experienced runners. The first quarter mile or so was a packed snow path wide enough to have some space and to pass slower racers, but when we entered the woods it narrowed, forcing us into single file – and the group ahead slowed to a walk.

This was a bit frustrating. Turns out that running in snowshoes isn’t all that hard, and I wanted to race, darn it! With the snow on either side about two feet deep, passing was a chore, but that’s what a bunch of us wound up doing. It was actually a pleasure when we reached the wider trails and roads, and I could sprint until the course narrowed again.

They're off!
They’re off!
Dashing through the snow.  You can see how the snow gets kicked up behind you. Click for a better view.
Dashing through the snow. You can see how it gets kicked up behind. You are advised to wear a waterproof jacket.
He charges toward the finish as the crowd goes wild...
He charges toward the finish as the crowd goes wild…

The trail was marked with flags, but near the end I missed a turn and added about a quarter mile to my race. Yet even with that, plus starting in the back, I managed a fourth-place finish in my age group. Look out next year! And the overall winner of the 5K was 55 years old. How’s that for inspiration?

Let's play a quick game of, "who's more ridiculous".
Let’s play a quick game of, “who’s crazier”.

I had a great time, and recommend this race to any winter runner looking for a change of pace (pun intended). It’s a good workout and a nice break from road running in sloppy conditions. I’m now considering snowshoes for regular winter training.

Next on the race calendar: the Super 5K this Sunday. Looks like it’s going to be a cold one, like last year (click here to see the 2013 writeup). Oh, joy. But I signed up anyway, and also volunteered to help with post-race cleanup. Inside.
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