SUNNY & 50 DEGREES MAKES FOR ONE HECK OF A BLIZZARD – Brave the Blizzard 5k/5.5mi Snowshoe Races

Based on statements made at the start of last year’s Brave the Blizzard (which featured cooler, cloudy weather and mud, mud, and more mud) today would be the 13th running of this race, which has roughly a 50% success rate for being held on snow. Two storms in the last week and a half dropped 18″-24″ of snow on the Albany area, and Tawasentha Park maintained its snow cover incredibly well – less than 10 miles away my small backyard was more bare ground than snow on Sunday morning.

Ask a dozen snowshoe runners what perfect conditions are for snowshoeing and you’ll probably get a dozen different answers. The snow cover today wasn’t perfect – there were a few patches of nearly bare ground and some very wet spots – but for me there’s something about running through the snow on snowshoes on a gorgeous sunny day with temperatures nearing 50 degrees that made today, if not perfect, pretty darn enjoyable, albeit about as far from actually braving a blizzard as you could get.

The 5k runners split off from the 5.5 milers a couple of tenths of a mile from the finish line, with the 5k men’s and women’s races won by Shaun Donegan and Megan Boyak respectively. Tim Van Orden not only finished 1st in the 5.5 mile race, he did so roughly 15 minutes faster than the 2nd place finisher, women’s winner Jamie Woolsey.┬áThe results from both races are available on here; note that the 5k results have been combined with the 5k splits to allow long course runners to earn series points for both distances. Results with only the 5k runners can be found on the AREEP’s site.

Huge thanks to the ARE and their abundant volunteers for not only organizing another excellent race but also for providing plentiful pancakes and refreshments afterwards.

DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW ON A WARM & SUNNY DAY – Camp Saratoga 8k Snowshoe Race

Sunshine and warm (for February) weather greeted 54 snowshoers at the Wilton Wildlife Preserve Camp Saratoga Parcel on Saturday morning, 2/18. Another surprise for many who’d been there before – a brand new building with men’s and women’s restrooms complete with heat and running water, thanks to a major investment on the part of the Town of Wilton.

The race moved back to its traditional start up the trail from the HQ cabin, which provided a gentle downhill introduction to the course and the many hills, some smaller and some larger, that followed. While there was plenty of snow, the consistency varied – the wide groomed XC ski trails tended to be pretty hard-packed, while the less-used singletrack was a little softer. Any spot in the sunshine tended to have the consistency of mashed potatoes and an annoying tendency to build up temporary snowballs in snowshoe cleats.

J Matthew Medeiros and Megan Boyak won the mens’ & womens’ races, respectively. Full results can be found here.

A huge THANK YOU goes out to RD Laura Clark and the Saratoga Stryders who spent many hours making this race happen, including marking and double-checking the course multiple times this week – and then running in the the race today to boot!