About Derrick Spafford


Winter’s Coming – Time to Snowshoe Canada

Snowshoe Magazine

Snowshoeing is the fastest growing winter recreational activity in North America, and with good reason – it’s a great way to enjoy our long Canadian winters while getting in a fantastic workout.

Whether a relaxing snowshoe hike on the trails … Continue reading

Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Running Series

The inaugural season of the Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Running Series was a tremendous success with top competition, three unique and very different race venues, and many first time participants trying out the sport of snowshoe running. Male and female series champions would be crowned after the third and final race with each receiving a pair of Dion Running Snowshoes. Random draws for Dion snowshoes and many other prizes would also be given out courtesy of our generous race sponsors.

Hydro Flask Bottle Warms the Snowshoer’s Heart

I usually don't tend to get too excited about water bottles. Sure, I have some great water bottles in my house that I like to use, but most are very similar to the next: Meaning that they are plastic and you can drink out of them.  One big exception is the Hydro Flask bottle.

Ask the Coach: Snowshoe Running and Conditioning


I'd like to try snowshoe races this winter, but my coach told me it would make me a slower runner. Is that true?

--Ann M.

Gear Review: Zanagen Topical Performance and Recovery Creams

I first heard about a mysterious blue cream from the blogs of some of Canada's top runners who were impressed with how it helped them through the rigors of training.

Ask the Coach: Pre-Season Training


I am now an avid snowshoe runner first and a trail runner second. I hate to see the snow melt in the spring.

How can I train through the summer months to be a stronger/faster snowshoe runner in the winter? Can you please give me some workouts that might help for the next snowshoe season.

- Gilles P.

Gear Review: Tanda Professional Restore

Light therapy and low intensity laser therapy is not new, having been tested and used for quite some time. In recent years however, the popularity of these forms of treatments have increased significantly with those wanting to find an effective, non-invasive and drug-free alternative to traditional forms of therapy. Some of the conditions that respond well to treatment include: arthritis, tendonitis, sprains and strains, and repetitive strain injuries.

Ask the Coach: Running Downhill


I just completed my first organized trail run and have a question about running downhill.  My body naturally adjusts when I'm running uphill, but once I start the downhill, I can't figure out how to run so I'm not putting too much pressure on my knees or my quads. What should I be focusing on when I'm running downhill to run quickly and efficiently?

-Deborah R.

Ask the Coach: How to Stay Well Hydrated


I am wondering how to stay well hydrated for longer trail runs during the summer, especially when training for ultramarathons. I see photos of runners running with a single bottle and wondering if they just make do as that certainly can't be enough fluid on a hot day?

- Chris S.

Ask the Coach: Trail Running Season is Here

Snowshoe Magazine

It's May and time to start thinking about snowshoe season! Okay, so most of us may be lacking a little in the snow department where we live right now, but that doesn't mean that we can't enjoy the thoughts of the upcoming season, in addition to getting our bodies ready for next winter.

Sydenham Hosts Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race

The Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race was held on January 23, 2010 in Sydenham, Ontario, Canada.

Living in Eastern Ontario, you would think that the options for snowshoe races would be endless. Not so, as we usually have to travel to either Quebec or the northeast U.S.

Gear Review: GU Energy Gels

Nothing is worse when out on the trails for a long snowshoe hike or run than bonking. Bonking comes as a result of running out of fuel to your working muscles by not taking in enough calories during endurance events. This can range from a simple inconvenience that makes your snowshoe outing a little less fun all the way to being downright dangerous in extreme cases if caught a long distance out on the trail in cold conditions. If your body starts shutting down and quits operating as efficiently as normal, you can also become more prone to hypothermia or frostbite by not being able to generate as much heat.

Snowshoe season underway

Snowshoe Magazine
Snowshoe season is officially underway now. The first snowshoe race of the season began this past weekend a few hours to the north of us with the ever challenging Mad Trapper Snowshoe Race near Low, Quebec. It sounded like Mother Nature smiled upon the first race of Mike Caldwell's popular race series and dumped a whack of fresh snow on the Gatineau Hills the week of the race. We don't tend...

Rock and Ice Ultra: A Real Gem of a Race

High winds and ominous clouds added to the tension and uncertainty as participants waited for the start of the 2009 BHP Billiton Rock and Ice Ultra. A total of 78 athletes were lined up on the start line, with many frantically doing last minute gear checks to make sure that they had the appropriate survival equipment needed for the duration of the race. In a harsh climate like Yellowknife, NWT in Canada's north, a careless mistake not only affects how well your race will go, but can also be downright dangerous, possibly even life threatening. 

Snowshoe Magazine Interview: Tom Sobal

This is the final installment in this season's series of interviews with notable snowshoe personalities.

Tom Sobal is a true pioneer in the sport of snowshoeing, and was snowshoe running long before it became the popular winter activity that it is today. Tom has accomplished many extraordinary feats, both on and off the snow, including running the fastest marathon ever recorded on snowshoes. Tom's passion is very evident and has inspired many in our sport.

Snowshoe Magazine Interview: Mike Caldwell

This is the fourth in a series of interviews with notable snowshoe personalities that we will be presenting throughout the season.

Mike Caldwell is the race director of the Mad Trapper Snowshoe Series in Low, Quebec (about 40 minutes north of Ottawa, Ontario). He started the series six years ago, and has watched it grow and attract many of the area's best runners, triathletes, cyclists and adventure racers. He makes his events fun for beginners as well as the more competitive types. His backcountry style races take in some of the most beautiful and challenging terrain in Eastern Canada.

Gear Review: Gel-Bot

One of the most challenging things I've found about ultra running and long distance snowshoe racing is staying well nourished and hydrated. Taking in calories by way of energy gels is a very effective way of keeping your energy level topped up. However, the hassles of dealing with individual gel wrappers, in addition to the mess and impact on the environment, can make this less appealing. Throw in having to follow up your gel consumption with a slug of water and it's easy to see that you sometimes feel like you are spending more time fueling and less time actually enjoying your run.

Gear Review: Nathan Storm

Picture yourself out for a long hard snowshoe run or hike, working up a sweat, then trying to take a drink out of your water bottle, but nothing comes out. Drat! It's frozen solid again. This has continually been a source of frustration for the avid snowshoer.

Gear Review: Salomon Winter Boots

When snowshoe running, the high impact, heat-generating nature of the activity means that you typically can get by using trail or running shoes and gaiters. For hiking on extremely cold days, something warmer and more protective of the elements will ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable outing. Salomon makes winter boot options that work well for snowshoeing. They are functional, fit exceptionally well and are relatively light.

Gear Review: Suunto X10

For the most part, I never really thought that I needed a GPS watch for my snowshoe running workouts. I have used them in the past while running on roads and trails and found them useful to gauge the speed and distance of my runs. However, with snowshoe running, so much is different than road running that I didn't see the point. That is, until I started thinking about safety factors and other possible features.

Snowshoe Magazine Interview: Dave Dunham

This is the third in a series of interviews with notable snowshoe personalities that we will be presenting throughout the season.

Dave Dunham lives in Bradford, MA and is a pioneer in the sport of snowshoe racing in the Northeastern United States. Dave has numerous top five finishes at the U.S. Snowshoe Running Championships, including winning in 2001. He is also a race director for three snowshoe races. Dave is a member of the La Sportiva Mountain Running Team and Central Mass Striders.

Gear Review: Petzl Ultra Belt Headlamp

“Holy Smokes, that's bright!” Those were the first words to come out of my mouth the first time I took the new Petzl Ultra Belt headlamp out for a test run. Well, okay, those weren't actually the ‘exact' words I said, but you get the idea.

Snowshoe Magazine Interview: Keri Nelson

This is the second in a series of interviews with notable snowshoe personalities that we will be presenting throughout the season.

Keri Nelson of Gunnison, Colorado was second at the 2007 USSSA Snowshoe Running Championships and then came back to win the 2008 race.

Gear Review: PolarMAX Acclimate Wool Base Layer

Wool has long been recognized for its ability to keep you toasty warm in cold weather conditions. It has been a staple in my snowshoeing wardrobe from the very beginning. 

Snowshoe Magazine Interview — Mark Elmore

This is the first in a series of interviews with notable snowshoe personalities that we will be presenting throughout the season.

Mark Elmore is the sports director for the United States Snowshoe Association (USSSA) and a familiar face in the U.S. and International snowshoe running scene.

Gear Review: Jetboil Personal Cooking System

Nothing is better during a long day of snowshoeing on a cold day than taking a break and enjoying a hot drink or meal on the trail.