New history developed on the famed Mickelson Trail as the first United States Snowshoe Association Qualifying Race for the national snowshoe championships ever conducted in South Dakota was held on a very special 10-km piece of the snow blown trails. A small group of brave snowshoe athletes donning loaner Dion Snowshoes enjoyed mountain winds to traverse the course; however the 9:00 a.m. start found mild temperatures to compensate for the air.
A popular snowshoe racer and USSSA National Team member (Utah 2009), Robert Bolton established the Dumont event to “help bring this sport to South Dakota.” Ryan Phillips won the inaugural race’s gold in a resounding 50:30 while Nathan Morey followed for the silver and Kimberly Osberg rounded out the medal’s podium. In a new first for snowshoe qualifying, the times are approximate as Bolton described, “The clock blew over during the race” partially due to the wind, partially due to the softening snow.
Additionally a 5-km event introduced snowshoe racing to those wanting to test for the first time the fun the sport provides.
Bolton gave big credit to the Black Hills Runner’s Club for their work in pulling of this historic first. “They were fantastic in helping me set this up, especially Emily Wheeler, the president. She is the Race Director for the two biggest marathons in the Black Hills: The Deadwood Michelson Trail held in June and the Run Crazy Horse, September. She knows how to put an event together. Pam Sauerman took the photos while her son, Joe, was course monitor.”
Bolton explained he has been training here for the past five winter seasons “and it is fantastic snowshoeing! I am convincing the qualified racers to come with me to Frisco, CO, for (the Dion Snowshoe USSSA National Championships conducted February 24-26, 2012).”
After the race he plied tired racers and winded volunteers with hot cocoa, homemade muffins and cookies while warming at the Dumont Trailhead Cabin. Bolton is sneaky that way; who could turn him down after homemade muffins?
As a USSSA National Team Member, likely the oldest member to have ever qualified, Bolton spans the spectrum of championship snowshoeing with his qualifying national championship race finishes in Utah, Mt. Hood, OR, (“My race at Mt. Hood was really the career highlight for me) and the 2011 Cable, WI, event. “Snowshoe running is my thing, mainly because I am able to take most of the winter off from work and train; plus I love it. Last year at the Kahtoola Snowshoe Festival in Utah, I shattered the 50 km record by 45 minutes. At the Cable, WI, National Championships in 2011, I took 14th overall, winning first in my age group.”
We expect bigger things for next year, and I would eventually like to have a 3 race series at different venues.”
And maybe a chance for snowshoers to race through one of the two famed tunnels on this historic trail.
DION Snowshoes www.dionsnowshoes.com
Mickelson Trail http://www.mickelsontrailaffiliates.com/trail.htm