WEBSTERVILLE – Twenty participants at Saturday’s Millstone Madness Snowshoe Race experienced a taste of adventure during their three-mile ramble through the old granite quarries. Blue skies and bright sunshine were a welcome sight after a winter filled with overcast days. The temperature warmed to the freezing mark as the race kicked off at 10 a.m.
Tim Hogeboom and Elizabeth McCarthy arrived at the Millstone trails with just enough time to check in. The Walden couple pulled on their snowshoes and made fast tracks to the starting line. Heading up the first uphill stretches, Tim caught his breath as his heart rate increased.
“The conditions for the Millstone race were less than ideal,” said Hogeboom. “A warm slushy Friday led to a frozen crunchy uneven surface on Saturday. There were deep holes where someone had apparently post-holed on Friday. The course was twisty, up and down, and steep in a few spots. So easy to fall in these conditions!”
McCarthy and Hogeboom entered the race to get outside and keep in shape for running, without having to navigate icy roads. They trained by snowshoeing on their back fields and on their neighbors’ woods trails and the VAST snowmobile trails. Alternating between walking and running, they gradually built up to running a 5k distance on snowshoes.
“I used my daughter’s old Tubbs to train in,” said McCarthy. “Of course, running in the wrong snowshoes is like being a hobbled horse. On race day, Onion River Outdoors offered 50% off renting racing snowshoes. This paid off in comfort and my finish time.”
April Farnham, from Plainfield, trained for the Millstone race by snowshoeing up Spruce Peak on multiple occasions, including several times in one day. She started in the back of the pack, slowly making her way through the course passing people.
Mack Gardner-Morse, from Calais, ran in his hiking snowshoes. “I struggled to do three miles,” he said. “I fell down once and tripped three times.”
Gardner-Morse, 61, was the first runner to finish from the 10 towns covered by the Hardwick Gazette. He crossed the line in 36:08 to place fourth, behind Chris Cote (35:36), Stephen Maas (32:55), Greg Jancaitis (31:05), and the winner, Matthew Dugan (30:29). Three of the top five finishers were ages 59 to 61.
Farnham, 55, was the top female finisher. She placed sixth overall in 36:12. “I was slowly gaining on Mack,” said Farnham. “A few more feet and I would have had him. He is an animal out there; it was fun to chase him down!”
Early in the race, Hogeboom, 71, leapfrogged ahead of Chris Cote when Cote fell. After Cote went by him, Hogeboom fell in behind Erin Mohr, who was setting an even pace. He passed Mohr with about a third of a mile left and finished seventh, in 36:44.
“I struggled to keep my balance and somehow managed to stay on my feet the entire race,” said Hogeboom. We enjoyed a soft snow surface where the course skirted the edge of a field with nice views. Then back into the woods and more crunchy hard stuff. I enjoyed the downhill and flats sections leading to the finish line, where there was a warm fire, treats to eat, and lots of prizes.”
McCarthy, 70, tried to keep a steady pace as she traversed the rolling single track sections. The crunchy footing forced some walking up the hills. She ran by herself in the middle of the pack for most of the race. Heidi Hales, 51, caught her during the last half mile. Hales and McCarthy placed 13th and 14th, respectively.
“I envied Heidi’s energy and uphill sprint, wishing her well as she passed me,” said McCarthy. “I followed her, running as fast as I could on the last downhill and flat to the finish. I was pleased with my time. It was much faster than my training runs on the old Tubbs.”
Farnham, Hogeboom, and McCarthy won Central Vermont Runners’ mugs for their efforts. Hogeboom won the raffle prize of a pair of Dion Racing Snowshoes (donated by Dion Snowshoes from Pownal).
“We get plenty of snow in Walden, which is a big advantage training for a snowshoe race,” said Hogeboom. “We were able to get out and snowshoe 10 times to prepare for Millstone. Elizabeth didn’t have racing snowshoes, and now we both do. I’m not sure who’s going to use the Dion’s, but one of us will.
“Now I have Tim’s old pair of racing snowshoes to train on instead of the old Tubbs,” said McCarthy. “I’ll be ready for some light-footed running in the spring.”
Snowshoers Race at Peak Ultra
PITTSFIELD – Erin Magoon and Andy Gilbert placed high at Saturday’s Peak Ultra Half Marathon Snowshoe Race. The roughly ten-mile course involved more than 2,000 feet of elevation gain.
Magoon, 43, from Craftsbury, romped to victory in the women’s division. She completed the two-loop course on a packed trail in two hours 41 minutes and 18 seconds. Magoon won an inscribed hatchet as her prize.
“I had never run in snowshoes but figured it’s a new way to get out there in the winter,” said Magoon. “Mostly I was just hoping to survive, but it was surprisingly fun. I was even more surprised to be the first woman. I didn’t have my watch to record so I was more in the moment too. I would do it again for sure!”
Andrew Gilbert, 60, from Hardwick, joined Magoon for the race. They practiced a few times together on Hardwick Trails prior to the event. Gilbert finished just ahead of Magoon in 2:41:10. He placed sixth in the men’s division.
Thornton-Sherman Brothers Reach New Heights
BOSTON – Evan Thornton-Sherman and Myles Thornton-Sherman competed over the weekend at the Boston University David Hemery Track and Field Invitational. The brothers grew up in Waterford, Vermont and are graduates of St. Johnsbury Academy.
Evan, a freshman at the University of Maine, ran a personal best mile race on the banked 200 meter indoor track. Myles, a sophomore at Colby College, had a personal best pole vault at the prestigious meet.
Evan’s time of 4:07 shattered his previous personal best mile of 4:15 set on January 15. The field was crowded with talented runners. The talented distance runner placed 117th of 432 collegiate milers competing across multiple heats.
Myles’ vault of 15 feet 1.25 inches placed fifth among 24 NCAA D-III pole vaulters competing at the meet. His vault was the third highest in Colby history and exceeded his previous personal best vault by more than a foot.