By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
UPPER SALFORD >> Although there weren’t natural icy white flakes on the ground, machines made it possible for about 50 people to run up a snow-covered mountain on Saturday morning.
This winter’s lack of snow didn’t stop the 12th Annual Pennsylvania Snowshoe Race, held at Spring Mountain Ski Area, from taking place. Snowshoes are special footwear that runners attach to their shoes to help them with traction while on a course covered in snow. Real snow wasn’t on the ground Saturday, but it was in the air as flurries fell from the sky just in time for the winter race.
“It just gives it the ambiance,” Janice Moyer, of Limerick, said, speaking of the snowflakes.
Moyer, who participated in the snowshoe race for the first time this year, said she likes that the sport is outdoors, especially considering winter can be a time when people feel cooped up from using treadmills indoors. She said snowshoeing is a great way to run outside and enjoy nature’s beauty at the same time. Moyer enjoyed Saturday’s race but said it was very challenging.
“It gets your heart rate up immediately. I would say the first 10 minutes in, you’re already breaking a sweat,” she said.
“It’s a surprisingly hard sport,” said Evan Daney, 28, of Conshohocken.
Daney was the first person to cross the finish line at the race on Saturday. He has competed in national snowshoe competitions before and is thinking about participating in the world championships this year. For the first time ever, the world snowshoe championships will be held in the United States. The competition is next month at Saranc Lake in New York.
Race director Ed Myers encouraged everyone that participated in the Pennsylvania Snowshoe Race to run in the world competition.
“To have the world cup here now, it’s awesome,” he said. “It will be a really nice international experience.”
Myers said he knows everyone from Saturday’s race will be able to handle the world championships because they’ve already proven how physically strong they are.
“That’s the one thing I’ve seen in all snowshoers is that they’re tough,” he said.
Nathan Mansor, 26, of Hatboro, showed just how “tough” he was when he put on his first pair of snowshoes minutes before Saturday’s race then came in second place overall.
“I really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun,” he said.
Mansor aspires to be a wildlife biologist in Alaska, so he thought a snowshoe race would look good on his resume. He showed that the cold is not something to fear when he ran in Saturday’s race wearing only shorts and no shirt.
Tessa Clayton, 28, of New Jersey, was another first-time snowshoe runner. She was also the first woman to cross the finish line Saturday. Clayton has a background in running but said the hills on the snowshoe course definitely made it challenging.
“You have to pick up your knees a lot more. When you get tired, your legs kind of stop so it gets a lot harder (to run),” she said.
Twelve-year-old Luke Baily, of Elverson, gave snowshoeing a try for the first time as well on Saturday. His aunt did the competition last year, which encouraged him to participate this year.
“It was cool. I’d never actually run on snow (before). It was definitely hard going up the hills but overall it was great,” he said.
After much insistence from her dad, Summer Duba, 13, woke up this morning and decided to snowshoe-run for the first time.
“I think I was expecting it to be more like regular running, but it was harder than I thought it would be,” she said.
Three generations of Dubas ran in Saturday’s snowshoe race. Joining Summer was her father, Johan, and her grandfather Ed. Johan came in third place at last year’s race and had such a great time that he invited his family to join this year.
“It’s nice to be outside in the snow and I had done it as a kid,” he said adding that he ran in snowshoes while growing up in upstate New York.
Johan’s father, Ed, still lives in New York and said when the state gets snow there are multi-use trails that can be used to snowshoe.
“It’s something my wife and I do as a recreational sport,” Ed said.
Ed said since they live in New York there’s a real possibility that they will join the world championships there next month.
For more information about the 2017 World Snowshoe Championships in New York, visit the website www.saranaclake.com/world-snowshoe-championships.