by Laura Clark
NOTE: Gore Nordic is holding a series of Citizens Races for XC skiing and snowshoeing on Tuesday nights from Jan 15 through Feb 19. While these races are not part of our 2018-19 points series, they are apparently good low-key weeknight fun. More information can be found here.
Have you ever dreamed about running the VT 100, the ultra where horses and humans share the trail, but figure you could never stay awake all night? Are your weekends consumed with carpooling your kids to sporting events and birthday parties? Are you just getting started and reluctant to head off into the wilds on a course you are not sure you can even complete? Then the Tuesday evening Ski/Snowshoe Series at Gore’s North Creek Ski Bowl is just what you have been waiting for. And, yes, you heard me correctly. Track and skate skiers and snowshoe runners and walkers compete on the same lit, professionally groomed stadium course, complete with a single track line, ample corduroy gliding areas, with the inside lane reserved for the snowshoers. Participants can trace the circuit up to four times, yielding a maximum distance of three miles. Obviously, skiers finish the route way before the snowshoers and they are welcome to get in a few bonus miles while the rest of us complete the journey. Registration begins at 5:30 PM and with a 6:00 PM start. Admission is $10 per night, with no charge for season pass holders.
Saratoga Stryder Matt Miczek made it for the first event and I joined him for the second. There were fourteen participants, with the majority being skiers. Needless to say, I felt rather intimidated and a bit concerned that I would be run over. The mass start was exciting but it only took about 10 seconds for the skiers to outdistance us. I did have one moment of glory when I passed some track skiers going uphill, but obviously I didn’t stand a chance. Like all cross-country ski courses, the route was mostly uphill or down to supply momentum. I counted three longer steep hills, but none were overly intimidating. It was exhilarating to play hooky and escape normal weekday night chores. The route was romantically lit (good date night material), we had just been blessed with two feet of fresh powder and the moon was two days past its prime. One of those picture-postcard evenings.
But what stood out to me was the casual atmosphere and the enthusiasm of the staff. They seemed to know everyone by first names and were genuinely glad to greet newcomers. The event reminded me of some of our earliest snowshoe races when everyone was simply glad to be there and enjoying the outdoors, even down to the part where we patiently waited while the start was delayed to accommodate a latecomer. Try and find that consideration in a mega-race!
Afterwards, the North Creek food truck offered dinner and beverages and we gathered around hoping we would win a raffle prize. There were farm fresh eggs from Cobble Hill Farm, wool scarves knitted by an employee, hats from the ski shop, Adirondack calendars and gift certificates. Each time you participate you are given a slip of paper for the raffle, and after the drawing all slips are retained for the final big bash on February 19. What a deal! My only regret is that I didn’t participate in the first race on January 15.
See you there!
— Laura Clark is an avid snowshoer, trail runner, XC skier, race director, 2017 World Snowshoe Federation Championship 70-99 Female Age Group winner, and 2018 National Championship Half Marathon 70-99 Female Age Group winner.