Mendon Ponds Winterfest Snowshoe Race

Snowshoe racing has begun! Genuine winter weather has finally blown in, and with it, the chance to get out there and work WITH the season (think scampering along snowy wooded trails, winter sky twinkling overhead, and hauling lots of extras – warm layers, snowshoes, and a big grin) – instead of AGAINST it (think brown, slush-covered road).

We had our first race last weekend, at Mendon Ponds Winterfest in Rochester. The people of Rochester are way-above-average friendly, and we always have a really fun time there.

The course, winding around Mendon Ponds Park, offers rolling terrain, well-marked trails, and cozy lodge facilities, making it an ideal venue for off-road events. Our races went well, and, as always, it was a pleasure being out there with other snowshoers. Race directors Mort Nace and Tim Ratowski bill the race as a “no-frills” event, but with such a good course, the number of valuable draw prizes, and a delicious hot meal after, we felt more than adequately frilled. We even got a decent stand-up routine from the duo as they handed out the goods.

Throughout the year, Mort and Tim co-direct an entire series of trail running and snowshoe races, so there is no lack of interesting events in the area to try. They even hold a six hour snowshoe race (solo or relay) in early February, and an impressive field of 50 took part in 2006! All event info is at


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About Sara Montgomery and Derrick Spafford

Derrick and Sara are trail runners from Eastern Ontario who discovered that running on snowshoes in the winter months is a great way to enjoy their favorite trails year-round. They competed in their first snowshoe series (The Mad Trapper Series in Low, Quebec) in 2005, each finishing 2nd in their respective divisions. Plans for 2006 are to return to the Mad Trapper, to take in some races in New York and Vermont, and hopefully cap their season with the U.S. Snowshoe Championships in March, as Canadian guests. Derrick runs a company, Spafford Health and Adventure (, which specializes in coaching and event promotion. He is currently planning an annual snowshoe race to be held in the Kingston area, starting this winter.