The fur traders used snowshoes hundreds of years ago to navigate over frozen tundra to check their traps. They kept warm using fur skins and their snowshoe were made of wood and animal gut.
Fast forward to 2020 and we find thousands of people in snow bound countries strapping on snowshoes as a way to get outside and get some exercise in the winter. The snowshoes are lightweight aluminum or plastic, and the clothing is high-tech breathable fabric.
“A totally different type of work out,” says Dave Robinson, President of Snowshoe Canada.
One of the originals in the sport of triathlon back in 1982 Robinson got into snowshoe racing a few years ago and finds it to be a great running experience. “I love cross country skiing,” added Robinson, “but it does not provide the same work out as good run, so the snowshoeing really fits the bill. It allows me to get into the snow-covered wooded trails which I love to do.”
“Running on snowshoes is slower and requires considerably more effort. A 40-minute run on snowshoes over snow covered trails feels like a hard one hour run,” adds Robinson.
“I work a lot harder and I am going quite a bit slower. I have to pick up my feet more and run with a wider stride to avoid tripping and I use my arms a lot more.”
Getting into snowshoe running involves an investment of about $250 to $300, for a pair of high-tech racing snowshoes and a good pair of trail shoes, preferably high tops, to avoid snow getting down in your ankles. Wearing breathable fabric clothing is advisable because you will sweat a lot from the effort.
The racing snowshoe is smaller than the walking version and the binding has been engineered to facilitate running.
The equipment can be purchased at most sports stores that carry winter sports gear.
It is pretty simple to learn. Start with walking, then a slow jog getting the feel of navigating the trail wearing snowshoes, then pick up the speed until you are running at a pace you are comfortable with.
Finding a place to snowshoe is not that difficult. Most of the Nordic and Downhill ski Centers across the country have built snowshoe trails on their property and maintain them. In addition, most of the municipal, provincial and national parks have made provisions for snowshoe trails.
Snowshoe Canada has an Ontario Cup series going in southern Ontario with four races beginning in late January and running into early March.
The 2nd annual Athletics Ontario Snowshoe Championships will be in Fenelon Falls on Saturday February 1st, 2020. This will be the second stop on the four-race series and will also serve as Ontario Provincial Snowshoe Championship. A prize purse of $1000 is available to the top over all male and female winners.
Snowshoe Canada also sanctions the Canadian Snowshoe Championships in Mont Sainte Anne, Quebec, taking place on Saturday February 8th, 2020.
Athletics Ontario members can add on a Snowshoe Canada membership for $10.00 which is a 50% discount on the regular price. As an added perk they will also enjoy a 20% discount on the race entry fees.
The Snowshoe World Championships will be in Myoko, Japan, on February 14-16, 2020.
For more information go to www.snowshoecanada.ca