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.


December, and on to a New Year

Snowshoe Magazine
I'm not sure if it's the getting used to the darkness and cold again, or the hustle and bustle frenzy of holiday hubaloo, but December and I don't get along very well. I tend to feel down, negative, and easily overwhelmed. Pull over I want to get off the Busy Train and just sit and watch the stars. Like my garden, I need a bit of time to sit fallow.I love the New Year, and this year I'm particular...

The Best Workout

Snowshoe Magazine
There is snow all around us it seems, but none in Eastern Ontario yet. Almost everyone here is grateful for that, but we snowshoers are getting impatient, tapping our toes and willing the green on the Doppler to turn blue, dammit, blue!Derrick and I are into a hill workout phase of our training which is at least giving us some solid preparation for the snowshoe running season.I love the variety th...

Getting Ready for 2010/11 Snowshoe Season

Snowshoe Magazine
A sizzling summer has passed, and now another snowshoe season is just around the corner. Although autumn is an amazing season for trail running, the anticipation of the first snowfall and all the excitement that brings is also starting to simmer in the back of my mind.Derrick and I are both finally putting lingering injuries behind us, and are entering races again. We'll be doing a few trail event...

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times; On Listening To Your Body

Snowshoe Magazine
Snowshoe racing season is over, and I didn't get a single race in. That really bums me out. My hamstring injury is my own fault for violating the first rule of running: Listen to your body. Ever since I first started running, I have made it my first priority to take care of the little nigglies before they become big problems. I proactively go for rehab and massages and take days off to calm th...

Washed Away

Snowshoe Magazine
Since a big rainstorm on January 25th washed practically all of our snow away, we have been running on a LOT of ice. While it has been fun exploring some new lakes and islands that are normally off-limits this time of year, I'm missing my snowshoes. Soon it will be spring; we need more snow before then! My friend Deb is visiting town from Taiwan for a few weeks, and we spent a couple of days at...

The Perfect Snowshoe Run

Snowshoe Magazine
The last three months have been a real struggle for me. I have been nursing a very stubborn knee injury that has prevented me from running very much at all. I've still been able to get out for short runs each day, but they haven't been anywhere near as long as what I normally love to get in. And, I must say that an injured runner is a grumpy runner. With Sara and I both going through injuries r...

New Snowshoe Hotbed

Snowshoe Magazine
The Eastern Ontario region, for one reason or another, has traditionally not been a hotbed for snowshoe racing. In the past, we have had to travel mostly to the North-East U.S. to find races. With the increased popularity of snowshoeing and snowshoe racing, this is changing very quickly. This winter we now have our choice of seven different snowshoe races within a three hour drive. This is ver...

Bring on the Snow!

Snowshoe Magazine
Welcome back to another season at Snowshoe Magazine. We are excited about the change in season and what is in store. As with previous years, Sara and I will once again be posting regular blogs here about our winter activities with a focus on Snowshoe Running and Racing. We thought we would start off by giving you a quick update of what we've been up to over the non-snowshoe season. The sum...

Sara Montgomery wins K-Rock at Rock and Ice Ultra

Snowshoe Magazine
The third annual BHP Billiton Rock and Ice Ultra began in Yellowknife, NWT in Canada's north on March 21, 2009. The Rock and Ice Ultra consists of three separate distances including the one-day 55km Cold Foot Classic, the three-day 135km K-Rock Ultra and the six-day 225km Diamond Ultra. Participants can choose to race by ski or by foot/snowshoe. K-Rock and Diamond Ultra participants slept i...

Women Set to Rock the Rock and Ice Ultra

Snowshoe Magazine
From March 21-26, 2009 the third BHP Billiton Rock and Ice Ultra will take place in Yellowknife, NWT. The race consists of a self-supported race called the Diamond Ultra which covers 225 km over 6-days, a partially-supported race called the K-Rock Ultra which covers 135 km over 3-days, and the 44.5 km Cold Foot Classic which can be completed solo or as a relay in a single day. All racers have the ...

Me and my buns

Snowshoe Magazine
I love cinnamon buns. Always have. I think it goes back to when I was a kid and our family used to vacation at a cottage in Plevna. We would buy the best cinnamon buns from Mrs. Baker who lived on the hill (or was it Mrs. Hill who was a baker?). Anyhow, I am drooling while I am writing this. Even to this day, nothing tastes better to me after a long run than a gooey cinnamon bun and a dark roast c...

The Joy of Pulk Running

Snowshoe Magazine
The history of the pulk (sled) dates back as long as humans have been living in winter conditions and needing to transport things over the snow. I never really thought much about them before signing up for the Rock and Ice Ultra (www.rockandiceultra.com), however I will have to run while pulling a pulk with all of my supplies in it for the entire six day race. Pulks come in many shapes and size...

19 years and still streakin’

Snowshoe Magazine
I have always enjoyed Christmas. Not only is it a great time to spend with family and friends, it's also the day each year that I celebrate my secret life as a streaker. Yes, you heard me right, as of Christmas Day, I have been streaking for 19 years and still going strong. Okay, so the first thought that probably came into your head may have been that of the craze in the 1970's where people wo...

Return to Yellowknife

Snowshoe Magazine
Last March, Derrick took part in the BHP Billiton Rock and Ice Ultra in Yellowknife, Canada. He had an amazing time doing the three-day K-Rock race, and came home inspired to return in 2009 and take on the six-day Diamond Ultra. The Diamond race involves running with a pulk (sled) full of all your food and gear. He will be bringing along one additional thing this year that he had to leave home...

The Legend of Bubba

Snowshoe Magazine
I remember talking to a friend a few years ago and I was telling her about all the signs of wildlife that I see while trail running. Bear scat, deer droppings, wolf poop, etc.. She quickly replied that she didn't tend to see many of those things in her neck of the woods, but did see a lot of Bubba droppings. Bubba droppings I asked? Yes, she said. You know, when you are out on the trail and you s...

Adventures in Race Directing

Snowshoe Magazine
Race directing can sometimes be a thankless job, with all of the hours of planning leading up to it, the early morning course set-up, crazy busy race day, and then dealing with follow-ups and issues after the fact. So many people have run in races, but I expect many aren't sure of all the work that goes into actually making it happen. Sara and I just finished race directing the Sydenham Fall 8k...

Whispers of Winter

Snowshoe Magazine
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 trai...

Gear Review: Highgear Loft

Finding a good outdoor watch with the functions you want - that is also reliable and a reasonable price - can be an overwhelming task. I recently tested out the Highgear Loft watch, and was very impressed that it exceeded my expectations on each of these requirements.

Book Review: Snowshoe Country by Florence Page Jaques

Snowshoe Magazine
"I'll always turn to the North!" says New Yorker Frances Lee Jaques to his wife. He is trying to convince her to take their upcoming vacation to the wilderness of northern Minnesota, instead of the tropics. Finding her adventurous nature intrigued by his enthusiasm, she relents. Their trip turned out to be the life-changing inspiration for Florence Page Jaques' book, Canoe Country, first published in 1938.

Do Superheroes Wear Underwear? CW-X Sports Bra and Briefs

Last month, Derrick reviewed CW-X tights and shirts, and likened them to something Superman would wear (click here). I've been wearing CW-X too, and while I can't say I feel especially like Wonder Women, I do think it's great stuff. It makes such a difference in keeping the potentially hypothermia-inducing moisture at bay when you start to sweat in the cold. As a woman, I've had a problem though. My underwear - particularly my sports bra - is getting soaked. In my quest to stay dry, comfortable and safe, this is my weak link. Since these are the layers closest to my skin, it's been a real problem. I decided to see if CW-X sports bras and briefs could help me out in this department.

At the Rock and Ice

The second annual BHP Billiton Rock and Ice Ultra was held from March 22-28 in Yellowknife, NWT in Canada's Far North.

A Vermont Snowshoe Getaway: The Mountain Top Inn & Resort

As we head up the mountainside, the rain we have been driving through for the last hour suddenly turns to snow. By the time we reach the top, the flakes are gigantic and falling fast, and we happily decide that this is an auspicious start to our weekend here.

Rock and Ice Ultra

Snowshoe Magazine
The Rock and Ice Ultra takes place in Yellowknife, NWT in Canada's north beginning March 22, 2008. As soon as I heard about Rock and Ice, I knew that it was the type of event that I really wanted to do. I am thrilled that I will now have that opportunity very soon as I will be competing in the 3 day/135km division. Racers will run 45km per day and sleep on the trail in tents. The race is par...

Pittsfield Snowshoe Marathon Race Recap

Snowshoe Magazine
Last weekend, we headed to Vermont for the Pittsfield Snowshoe Marathon. Pittsfield is located a few miles north of Killington, in southern Vermont. We were excited about this race, having switched gears this year from the usual 10 km races we normally do, to this longer event. We arrived on Friday evening after a long drive, managing to mostly beat an approaching storm that was due over the weeke...

Sibe the Scribe

Snowshoe Magazine
Two years ago, we gave our Siberian husky, Meela, a very important job. She was to be the mascot and honorary race director for the inaugural Snow Dawg Snowshoe Race. Due to icy conditions, we unfortunately had to cancel that race, and Meela has been looking for a new snowshoeing role ever since. On March 8th we're running the Pittsfield Snowshoe Marathon in Vermont. And so, as we head into our lo...

Lost Dawg Snowshoe Ultra

Snowshoe Magazine
What? You haven't heard of the Lost Dawg Snowshoe Ultra? Well, I guess there's a good reason for that. The field was small, with only two participants in this inaugural event - Jesse our Alaskan Husky, and me. The run started uneventfully. Snowshoe conditions were good, with the sun out, the temperature just below freezing, and a fresh snowfall on the ground. The plan was to do a relaxed ru...

Seven Days without Snowshoe Running makes One Weak?

Snowshoe Magazine
It wasn't too long ago that I was happily stating I had done almost every run since mid November wearing snowshoes. Amazing how things can change in a week. Warm weather, plus a whack of rain, has left us with none of the snow that the two big December snowstorms gave us. Initially, I was bummed out by this as I've been training hard and focusing on the Pittsfield Snowshoe Marathon in Vermo...

Gear Review: Adventure Medical Kits

It seems as though you can't pick up an outdoor magazine these days without reading of someone having a close call in the wilderness and being lucky to come out of it alive.

Gear Review: CW-X Conditioning Wear

If Superman was a snowshoe runner, he would definitely wear CW-X Conditioning Wear!

Gear Review: Wigwam Socks

I remember growing up as a kid and being told by my mother to 'put on your wool socks before going out to play in the snow, so your feet don't get cold'. Well, me being young, and thinking that those bulky old grey wool socks looked dorky, I would sneak out of the house without them. Sure enough, it didn't take long before my feet got cold and it took some of the fun out of my outdoor adventures.

Twinkle, Twinkle

Snowshoe Magazine
Like many people, I find late-fall/early-winter the most challenging time of the year to get out the door for my runs. After a summer of warmth and long hours of daylight, suddenly we're cast into the opposite world of dark and cold, which takes some getting used to. As darkness falls, I constantly look at my watch to remind myself that there are actually the same number of hours available as alwa...

Gear Review: Five Fingers and Injinji

What do barefoot running and snowshoeing have in common? At first thought, probably not much, but guess again.

Gear Review: Petzl Headlamps

Winter is now here, and with it, comes shortened hours of daylight. This almost guarantees that most people will end up doing at least some of their snowshoeing or snowshoe running after dark. With that in mind, a headlamp becomes a vital piece of winter training equipment.

Gear Review: SteriPEN Adventurer

Occasionally a product comes along that makes you wonder how in the world you ever got by without it. The SteriPEN Adventurer is one such product.

Preaching to the Choir

Snowshoe Magazine
I find myself very giddy with all the snow we have gotten so far this year. Our first snowfall was almost a month ago and I have done pretty much every run since then on snowshoes! I have already run on snowshoes more times within the past few weeks, than I did for the entire months of November, December and probably even January last year. Mind you, there have been a number of days where I hav...

Hurtin’ in the Yurt

Snowshoe Magazine
We had our first winter storm in Southern Ontario yesterday, though unfortunately most of it came in the form of ice pellets. Still, some fluffy snow on top has made everything frosted with wintery white today. On our grass trails, we could give the snowshoes an early season whirl to get the feel for them again after a summer of unburdened feet. Two hours north of us, Gatineau Park, Quebec receive...

Gear Review: La Sportiva Fireblade

In preparation for the upcoming snowshoe racing season, most people will spend a lot of time trail running. Having the proper trail running shoe, just like having the proper snowshoe, is very important and will help you enjoy the trails safely before the snow flies.

Snowshoe Runner or Trail Runner?

Snowshoe Magazine
I was asked the other day whether I think of myself as a trailrunner who also does snowshoe races or a snowshoe racer who also runs trail races. That got me thinking. Obviously there is a real crossover between the two sports and many do both, but how you think of yourself as an athlete does have a big affect on how you train and the importance you place on certain aspects or periods of your tra...

Hanging Up the Snowshoes

Snowshoe Magazine
There are still a few stubborn snowbanks lingering along north-facing overhangs, but around them, the grass is starting to green from the spring rains, and the memories of winter are all that is left. The beginning of March saw us wrap up our snowshoeing season with the final Mad Trapper of the season, which was the Canadian Championships, and then, six short days later, the U.S. Championships...

Outdoor Research Gear Review

Winter this year, although late arriving, is now firmly entrenched. Deep snow, plunging temperatures and windchills have given us ample opportunity to test Outdoor Research gear in all kinds of extreme conditions. We have taken the gear out snowshoe running on snowmobile networks, across windswept frozen lakes, in rugged backcountry, and in races.

Mendon Ponds Winterfest Snowshoe Race

Snowshoe Magazine
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 Wi...

Hey! Turn Down the Heat!

Snowshoe Magazine
Last Friday we were excited to find our new Dion racing snowshoes waiting for us in the mail. With the snowshoe racing season upon us, we had been anxiously awaiting these Vermont, hand-made shoes. Ripping into the box, we pulled out the smallest and narrowest racing snowshoes that are approved for racing. The decking is a cool winter white color – to me they look like big polar bear paws. But ...

In search of snow

Snowshoe Magazine
Many would think that living in Canada, by mid-November we would be up to our armpits in snow, however since global warming has reared its ugly head, this is not the case. We have been anxiously awaiting the first significant snowfall for weeks. So much so in fact that we traveled south to the Adirondacks over the American Thanksgiving weekend in search of some of the white stuff to train on...

Big News for North American Snowshoe Racing

Snowshoe Magazine
The 2006/07 snowshoe season is fast approaching, and with it, some exciting news…Canada now has a National Snowshoe Championship! This a joint venture between the Mad Trapper Snowshoe Series north of Ottawa, and the Yeti Snowshoe Series in British Columbia. Mike Caldwell of Corporate Synergy Inc. will be hosting the 2007 event at his “Ark” facility in Low, Quebec on March 4, 2007. The event wil...

U.S. Snowshoe Championships

Snowshoe Magazine
The 2006 U.S. Snowshoe Championships were a fun way for us to cap off our snowshoe racing season this year, and also celebrate Derrick's 40th birthday. Derrick was sick for over a week leading up to the race, but he felt well enough to go, so we loaded up “Floyd the Forester” and headed to lovely Vermont. Bolton Valley Resort was a beautiful and challenging venue for the race. As the gun went ...

A Real Winter….Next Year!

Snowshoe Magazine
Snowshoe season is nearing an end. We've wrapped up our racing, except for the U.S. Snowshoe Championships, which are next weekend in Vermont. The latter half of 2005 was injury-plagued for Derrick and me, but we are progressing back to racing shape - good timing to enjoy this last big race of the season. Except for two snowstorms – one in December, and one in February, we had very little sign...

A Relaxing Night Away and A Trail Adventure

Snowshoe Magazine
This past weekend we traveled to Schroon Lake, New York for the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Challenge 10km snowshoe race. We arrived on Friday night, and were made to feel right at home as we were welcomed into the Wells House, in Pottersville (just south of Schroon Lake). This quaint inn has been lovingly restored and re-opened by Shirley and Paul Bubar, and was a wonderful place to headquarter our ...

March of the Snowshoers

Snowshoe Magazine
If I were granted the wish to snap my fingers and be one place on the planet to go for a snowshoe run, it would be Antarctica. Who knows, maybe someday? In the meantime, we have family who are going there next week, and we're excited to hear all the details of their trip. Snowshoe Magazine contributor Debbie McKeown (Derrick's sister), and her husband Jack are eagerly anticipating this trip of...

Snow Day Hill Workout

Snowshoe Magazine
Last Friday was one of those rare, oh so perfectly timed SNOW DAYS!!!!!!!!!! Our landscape was dumped with a foot of snow overnight from the biggest storm of the year, so far. As it tapered off and the sun came out, out too came the snowshoes. I drove up to the nearest trail for my hill workout. I had been doing road hills the past few weeks, so I felt ready to handle some on snowshoes. The ex...

Early Season Snowshoe Runs

Snowshoe Magazine
In my last blog, I included some preseason training tips that were designed to help get you ready for the snowshoe running season. By now, many of you have already had your first few runs in snowshoes or will have shortly. To follow up on preseason training, I thought it might be a good idea to pass on a few more tips to help get you through your early season runs happy and healthy. Snowshoe...

Preseason Training

Snowshoe Magazine
Snowshoe running is a very forgiving winter activity on your body. However, at the start of each season, many snowshoe runners tend to overdo it a little for the first few runs. This can leave you feeling a little stiff and sore, but also can increase the risk of injuries. Many of the initial aches and pains can be eliminated by taking a few preventative measures. The best cardio machines you...

Dog Days of Winter

Snowshoe Magazine
To say we are a family of dog lovers is an understatement. We have five dogs, and take pride in them having a fun, healthy, and loving life with us. Dogs fit perfectly into our running lifestyle, plus we often bikejor and dogsled with them. Our two Alaskan Huskies (Cody and Willy) are retired racing sled dogs, Meela is a gorgeous and rambunctious Siberian, Neeka is a Pointer cross with husky-l...

Desperate for a Snowshoe Fix!

Snowshoe Magazine
It seems like it's been so long since we had our last ‘real' snowshoe run. Looking in my training log, it dates back to late March. Since then we have made do with some great trail runs, but there's just nothing quite like heading out onto the trail, with the cold biting at your nose and the snow flying up your back. We got to the point in August when we were missing it so much, something jus...

Plans for a New Snowshoe Race

Snowshoe Magazine
Yesterday, Derrick and I organized a running race in the nearby town of Sydenham, just north of Kingston, Ontario. It was a five-kilometer race along the shores of beautiful Sydenham Lake, with most of the route using the Cataraqui Trail (the event's beneficiary). Derrick is a seasoned pro at putting on events, but this was the first race organized under the umbrella of his new company, Spaffor...