TRACTION ASSISTANCE FOR TOMORROW’S RACE…

There are many methods of traction assistance commercially available – Yaktrax, microspikes, nanospikes, studded shoes, you name it. But one of the easiest and cheapest methods to give better traction on icy surfaces is to install sheet metal screws in the soles of your running shoes. Here’s an excellent guide to doing so:

skyrunner.com screw shoe instructions

I’ve been doing this for around a decade now. Originally I used an old pair of trail shoes, but now I have a dedicated pair that I’ve used for several winters in a row (and all I’ve needed to do is occasionally replace a screw that has come out.)

Lowes carries the screws and opens at 8 AM Sunday morning if you’d like to make your own. I will also bring my cordless drill and several packages of screws to race check-in tomorrow and will be glad to add screws to anyone’s shoes, first-come first-served, wrapping up in time for the mandatory pre-race meeting at 10:40. Best of all,if you want to you can take the screws out later on with virtually no damage to the soles of your shoes.

 

Saratoga Winterfest 5k Trail Race This Sunday 2/4/18

Given the lack of snow on the ground and in the forecast, the Saratoga Winterfest 5k on Sunday will be held as a trail race. There is enough ice on the trails, however, that traction aids (studded shoes, microspikes, Yaktrax, etc) are MANDATORY for safety.

Online registration is still open. Day of registration will be in the Admin Building from 9:30-10:30, with a mandatory pre-race meeting indoors at 10:40 and the race starting in the quad at 11 AM. For more info please check our Winterfest race page.

 

With a Hoot, With a Toot and With a Whistle

by Laura Clark

Trains keep on rolling…
Rolling in the rain and rolling in the snow
Round trip ticket to nowhere and back…

                Professor Louie and the Crowmatix

With a hoot, a toot and a whistle we once more embarked on Bob Dion’s 5K Snowshoe Race, an out and back along the defunct Hoosac Tunnel and Wilmington Railroad (HTW)—hence Hoot, Toot & Whistle. Bob joked that if we missed the turnaround we could continue on the Catamount Trail all the way to Canada! Someday it might be fun to do that, but not with a race to be run.

Perhaps because of the train connection, I ran with Tear of the Clouds by Professor Louis and the Crowmatix cycling repeat loops in my head.  Professor Louis’ train is located not in Vermont but in the Adirondacks.  In fact, when Vice President Teddy Roosevelt took a hiking break at Tear of the Clouds Lake, word reached him that President McKinley, shot by an assassin’s bullet, had taken a turn for the worse.  Roosevelt beat all records running down Mt. Marcy and boarded North Creek Railroad enroute to being sworn in as President of the United States.  North Creek Railroad is still hanging on today, but struggling.

While we did not actually ride a Vermont train, we did have the option of reliving our elementary school days, riding to the start and back in a big yellow school bus. I opted for the full experience so I rode over and took my cooldown walking back. Unlike last week when it was -14, the  temperature hovered in the high thirties with a gusty wind making it seem a bit cooler.  It was difficult to know what to wear—rather like spring skiing, except that it was still January.

The course utilizes the Readsboro to Harriman Dam section of the HTW, one of the late 19thcentury premier short-line, narrow gauge railroads, also known as the Hitch, Twitch & Wiggle, on account of its high precipices and sharp turns resulting in an unusual amount of train wrecks. Just ask Jen Ferriss.  This has long been her cursed race where every year she has experienced an inordinate amount of bad luck. This year was no different, with an unscheduled stop to fix a struggling snowshoe. For the rest of us, the turns revealed constant surprises, with the person ahead peek-a-booing in and out of sight so you can never get a clear fix on your goal. The out-and-back landscape pretty much looks the same, with cliffs on one side and the river on the other, so that it is difficult to ascertain how much farther you have until you are almost on top of the finish.

This race marked Solitaire Niles’ (London’s sister) first 5K snowshoe race and she handled herself well. She is more of a downhill skier but enjoyed herself and promises to actually practice for Winterfest. So watch out!  Chloe, Jan R’s Newfie also made an appearance.  As she is twelve years old now, her hiking is rather limited, but her fan club more than made up for it, keeping her well supplied with plenty of attention. As for me, I am trying to deceive myself, feeling proud that I passed Jen Sharp (Kuzmich) when in reality she is recovering from pneumonia. I did however win an age group railroad spike award—probably my last time as Kathleen Furilani will be turning 70 in August. These spikes, donated by the railroad, are truly unique and definitely worth training for. They are also practical in this winter of below zero norms. Wedge shaped, they are perfect for prying open a frozen garbage can lid or car gas cap.

Each year when we pass through town we glance at the town’s landmark Bullock Building, which for nine years and running has been undergoing restoration partly support from our race donations. The scaffolding is removed; it is freshly painted and ready to host summertime community events. Next up is the heating system. Often our race dollars are earmarked for charitable causes, but rarely can we view with pride the actual physical results of our donations.

For me, though, the best part of the race was the drive home.  Somewhere on the road between North Bennington and Cambridge, Matt, Jen and I noticed a few cars pulled off to the side of the road, with their passengers staring up at the sky. They were transfixed by a huge bald eagle, perched on a tree, preening, fluttering his gorgeous tail feathers and stretching his wings for the benefit of his admirers. That was my first close-up eagle and a good luck sight I will always connect with Hoot & Toot.

– Laura Clark is an avid snowshoer, trail runner, XC skier, race director, and 2017 World Snowshoe Federation Championship 70-99 Female Age Group winner.

2018 Hoot Toot & Whistle 5k Snowshoe Race Results

61 runners and hikers spent a warm January 20th morning on the Catamount Trail in Readsboro VT for the annual Hoot Toot & Whistle 5k snowshoe race organized by our title sponsor Bob Dion of Dion Snowshoes and his dedicated crew of volunteers. The course was a fast one for the front runners, with Josh Ferenc & Suzy West taking first place for the men and women respectively.

Complete race results can be found here.