The Eagle Has Landed… Welcome To Our First Triple-Header

by Laura Clark

It was inevitable…this weekend we have progressed from double headers to triple plays…wonder what took us so long?  That is the good news—depending upon how obsessive you are.  The bad news is that no one succeeded in reaching this goal.  We were defeated, not by wimpiness, but by work schedules (Friday evening’s Nor’easter) and by a real Nor’easter on Sunday which made driving to Cockadoodle an epic battle.

The only event in this trifecta that most of us succeeded in attending was Bob Dion’s Hoot Toot & Whistle 3.5 miler in Readsboro, VT.  A mostly flat, but bumpy, route along a 350 mile rail trail, the name commemorates the nickname for the short line Hoot, Toot & Whistle Railroad which traversed the length of Vermont beginning at the southern Readsboro station.  Bob always jokes that if we miss the turnaround we will get to run all the way into Canada on the Catamount Rail Trail.  So far no one has taken him up on the offer.

Despite early week worries, the snow came through and deposited just enough so we could all enjoy the route without cringing at potential snowshoe damage.  This event attracts a goodly amount of hikers, more than normal, and it was great to see all of us out there. Bob claimed that overall winner Tim Van Orden had an advantage as he helped mark the course the day before and constructed numerous plank bridges across the streams. For most of us, all that work would have precluded a less than stellar race, but for Tim, after spending a full year constructing the Nationals course, it was simply a warmup.  Tim shared with me the secret of his success, which sounded like David and Megan Roche’s advice from The Happy Runner. He remains competitive into his fifties because he saves his hard efforts for weekend races and runs mostly easy during the week.

Post-race chatter centered on Cockadoodle Shoe Snowshoe in Saranac Lake the following day. Those who had room reservations were cancelling, and even Jim Tucker, Dean of Fun at Paul Smith’s College, was reluctant to travel there with his team—and they live in the same town!  Would the dirt road leading to the Land Trust be plowed?  I hardly thought that would have been a priority with the DPW during a blizzard, but apparently Race Director Jeremy Drowne had the necessary pull…I was sad I couldn’t be there, especially since this was one of the few events we have that offers tee shirts, but if I’d tried I would still be driving and not snugly at home writing.

Finally, what does all this have to do with eagles?  Sometimes the drive home can be just as exciting as the event itself and this is what happened to the Saratoga Springs carpool.  We have frequently spotted eagles along one particular backroads river stretch, but this time we scored three!  Apparently, they were as concerned about empty larders before the upcoming storm as were the humans who completely emptied Wegmans of their extensive stock of chips and dip.  For those of you who have never gotten lost in a Wegmans, know that it is more like a Museum of Food than an actual grocery store.  They have unlimited supplies of the ordinary stuff and every exotic delicacy you have never heard of.

OK—getting back to the eagles—not only did we see three but one of them, with the storm just hours away, figured time was running out and decided that my car, Sir Thomas, was a close-enough approximation of a fish.  He bore down at full speed for the windshield, talons extended, wings spread.  I ducked.  Luckily, he veered off at the last minute. I learned later that these talons could easily crush a human hand.  The thought of a windshield body slam and a gripping talon reaching in to secure prey is the stuff of Alfred Hitchcock….It was awesome!

—  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.


…. and it will definitely be on snowshoes! RD Laura Clark reports the Saratoga Spa State Park has a good based of hard-packed snow with 6-8″ of softer powder that fell during this week’s storm. Registration/check-in at the park administration building from 9:30-10:45; race begins at 11 AM. Full race info can be found here.

If you’re looking for other snowshoe racing options this weekend, Friday night brings the 2nd Nor’Easter Night 5k at Viking Nordic in Londonderry VT (9 PM start.) Saturday morning sees another running of the Super Frosty Loomis 5k/10k races out near Ithaca in central NY (10 AM start) and the morning Little Rodent 4mi/afternoon Cast a Shadow 6hr races (10:30 AM/1 PM starts) near Rochester NY. And Sunday has at least two options to the west of our region – the Oak Runner 5k/10k races at Oak Mountain Ski Center in Speculator, NY and the Selkirk Shores 5k at Selkirk Shores State Park in Pulaski, NY.


Friday 1/18 saw the running of the inaugural Nor’Easter Night 5k at Viking Nordic in Londonderry, VT. Nine runners took to the course under the lights, with 1st place honors going to David Hamilton & Christine Natalie. Our thanks to RD Eliza & everyone else on the Nor’Easter crew. Please check out their full slate of races – Sunday 2/10 is part of our points series, and there is a possibility we may include another of their seven races in the series as well. Full results for the nighttime 5k can be found here.

Saturday 1/19 saw another running of an perennial favorite, the Hoot Toot & Whistle 3.4mi snowshoe race along the Catamount Trail in Readsboro, VT. This was our largest race so far this season with 70 runners and walkers. The top two were Tim Van Orden & Jackie Wells. Special thanks to Bob and Denise Dion and their group of helpers, we couldn’t have his race without them! Full results can be found here. Pictures can be found here.

And finally, Sunday 1/20 saw a much-reduced field of runners at the Cock-a-Doodle-Shoe 5k&10k snowshoe races, due to a winter storm that hammered the northeast Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon. Despite the poor travel conditions 17 runners made it to the races, which saw Brian Wilson & Caitrin Chiantia finishing 1st in the 5k and Mitchell Ryan taking top honors in the 10k. RD Jeremy Drowne and his volunteers pulled off a race in very challenging conditions – deep snow and frigid temperatures. Full results can be found here.


Loaners are needed – the Dions are off at another event and needed all of theirs for that. So if you have an extra pair (or two) that you’d be willing to loan out, please bring them with you Saturday morning.