Strong ’shoers turn out for Fest
SARANAC LAKE — There wasn’t a big field participating in Saturday’s 5- and 10-kilometer snowshoe races at Dewey Mountain in Saranac Lake, but there certainly wasn’t any shortage of competitive athletes.
A total of 24 racers turned out for the event, and some of the sport’s top names showed up to support the race, including a handful of snowshoe runners who have participated in the World Championships during the past two years when they were held in Spain and Italy.
Tim Van Orden, of Bennington, Vermont, took top honors in the 10k race, turning in a winning time of 37 minutes, 3 seconds over the two-loop course laid out on Dewey Mountain. Saranac’s Matt Medeiros, an avid runner and two-time World Championship participant finished runner-up in 37:46, and Ithaca’s Eric Sambolec placed third in 38:19.
When it comes to ideal conditions, Saturday supplied just that as sunny skies shined upon the racers, but the temperatures were still chilly enough to keep the snow in tip top shape for racing.
“I feel like I’m in Colorado today, but only better. It’s the Adirondacks,” Van Orden said after his victory. ” I drove more than three hours today and it’s more than worth it. It’s such a great little area to come out to. I knew Eric Sambolec was going to be here, and Matt Medeiros. I knew the talent would be pretty good.”
Along with Sambolec, Van Orden is a member of the United States snowshoe national masters team. They are both preparing for the national championships taking place in Cable, Wisconsin in two weeks. The 50-year-old Van Orden said that training in heavy boots makes racing a lot easier once you strap on a pair of snowshoes.
“The goal was to beat the crap out of myself all week and then show up and see what I could do,” Van Orden said. “This is a really difficult sport. It’s probably the hardest running sport there is, and it’s really easy to slow down in a race, so the way that I train is to always have my legs tired so you get in the habit of willing them to move faster.
“The only time I put snowshoes on is when I race,” Van Orden continued. “I put on knee-high muck boots, which are much heavier than snowshoes, and I just run through the snow. I don’t run on the trail, and that forces me to always be mindful of picking my legs up fast. The snowshoes are a lot easier.”
Saturday’s races were followed by another day of competition Sunday on the Paul Smith’s College VIC trails, which featured a 15k event. After placing second at Dewey Mountain, Medeiros went on to win the 15k run in Paul Smiths.
“The competition was pretty stiff,” said Medeiros, who placed 17th in Italy last month at the World Championships. “Tim Van Orden, I know he’s in pretty good shape. I’ve run against Eric somewhat, who was also in Italy. I was pleased with my finish. I’m just out here for the effort. I’m training for the Boston Marathon, and I guess you can consider this part of my training.”
Saturday’s women’s 10k title went to Saranac Lake’s Bekkie Wright, who finished in 1:08:00. Bonnie Hallinan, who came to Saranac Lake from her home in Danvers, Massachusetts, was the women’s runner-up with a 1:24:50 result.
The 5k race came down to a sprint to the finish line for the overall title, with Thomas Firkins edging out Heidi Czerepak. Firkins, a junior at Paul Smith’s College who raced last month in Italy, grabbed the win in 29:48, with Czerepak finishing just three seconds back. Margaret Montag of Paul Smith’s placed third overall in 31:58. Lake Placid’s Elizabeth Trache placed fourth and Jim Neary of the Bobcats rounded out the top five.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but had a beautiful race though,”Firkins said. “It’s a great day for a race here; perfect, not icy at all. The goal was to run under 30 minutes, and I did that. Conditions were just perfect. It was so much fun.”
Czerepak is a native of Potsdam who recently moved to Saranac Lake. She said she’s an avid runner and decided to try snowshoe racing for the first time on Saturday. Czerepak said a racing clinic led by Sarah Keyes at Dewey earlier proved to be a huge benefit.
“This is my first time running on snowshoes today. The first time ever,” Czerepak said. “I took the training with Sara this morning and then I signed up for the 5k. It did help, but I’m a runner, so I loved it. I just dug my heels in. One of the things was being mindful of my gait. It’s a little different than running on roads. Just take it slow, listen to my body and just have fun.
“When we did the tutorial this morning, we did a little walking, a little jogging to get comfortable with it,” Czerepak added. “I’ve never run in snowshoes. I’ve only been on snowshoes two times, and it felt really comfortable to me. I’ve found a new passion. Totally.”
Adirondack Snowshoe Fest
Dewey Mountain Recreation Center
Thomas Firkins (Paul Smiths) 29:48
Heidi Czerepak (Saranac Lake) 29:51
Margaret Montag (Paul Smiths) 31:58
Elizabeth Trache (Lake Placid) 34.04
Jimmy Neary (Paul Smiths) 35:52
Jackie Zehl (Yosemite) 38:40
Lindsay Lathrop (New Haven) 54:12
Hannah Tierney (Bristol) 54:14
Lidia O’Kelly (Saranac Lake) 57:11
Ana Orellana (Albany) 57:37
Jonathan O’Kelly (Saranac Lake) 57:49
Tim Van Orden (Bennington) 37:03
J Matthew Medeiros (Saranac) 37:46
Eric Sambolec (Ithaca) 38:19
Jay Lemos (Clifton) 40:01
Rich Burke (Saranac Lake) 40:12
Ezra Hulbert (Mexico) 44:02
Doug Goodfellow (Plattsburgh) 50:01
James Miner (Dryden) 58:37
Matthew Miczek (Saratoga Springs) 1:02:06
Bekkie Wright (Saranac Lake) 1:08:00
Joseph Poliquin (Saranac Lake) 1:18:29
Bonnie Hallinan (Danvers) 1:24:50
Vivian Lane (Saranac Lake)
Sawyer Lacey (Saranac Lake)
Tessa Di Cesare (Coopersburg)
Alec Di Cesare (Coopersburg)
Paul Di Cesare (Coopersburg)
Kelli Di Cesare (Coopersburg)