Whispers of Winter

I’ve noticed that the 2008/09 dates for snowshoe racing are starting to appear. I’ve also noticed that the days are getting crisper and the sun is setting earlier. Add to this the fall colors, no mosquitoes, and these hints start pointing to one thing: Winter will be here soon (and along with it, snowshoeing).

It hardly seems possible that summer is over. Derrick and I had a good summer of training. Derrick continued racking up mega mileage, logging numerous 20 hour weeks, as well as tempo runs and intervals. I opted for more moderate mileage, while adding in a lot of strength exercises and speed work. We still managed to do a lot of our runs together, particularly our long runs on some beautiful trails.

We haven’t raced much, but at Haliburton Forest Ultras in September, Derrick put his miles to work for him as he took on the challenge of his first 100 miler. He nailed it, running an impressive 18:42 on way to the win, and nearly taking down the course record. I stuck to the 50k again this year, and was able to win the women’s race for the third time. It was great to be able to crew for Derrick after my race, to see first-hand all his hard work and preparation pay off. After so many years of running, it’s inspiring to see how he is still excited about taking on new challenges in the sport and doing so well.

The focus since Haliburton has been on recovering and regrouping to ramp up for some snowshoe racing. To prepare for the exertion of snowshoeing, we’ll add a hill phase for a few months. This will consist of hill intervals, and hilly tempo runs. The tempos will be on up-and-down routes, as well as uphill (where we might have to resort to a treadmill).

Our race plans for this season are shaping up to take in some shorter snowshoe races, such as the Canadian Snowshoe Championships in Low, Quebec, as well as a longer one like the 6-hour Cast A Shadow in Rochester, or the Rock and Ice ultra in Yellowknife (Derrick would like to move up to the 6-day event where you pull your own sled (pulk) full of supplies).

We’re looking forward to winter, but until then, fall is the best time of year for trail running!


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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 (http://www.healthandadventure.com), 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.