Regulars, newcomers turn out for revamped Sunlight Mountain Snowshoe Shuffle
Sunlight Mountain Snowshoe Shuffle top finishers
Men age 45 and under
Kevin Hadfield - 47 minutes, 54 seconds
Joseph DeMoor - 48:15
Brian Passenti - 52:17
Women age 45 and under
Morgan Hill - 1 hour, 1 minute
Christine Bailey - 1:12
Stephanie Kuehn - 1:22
Women age 46 and up
Heidi Vosbeck - 55:37
Kathryn Ruggles - 1 hour, 6 minutes
Trina Richey - 1:12
Men age 46 and up
Michael Richey - 1 hour, 12 minutes
Rick Voorhees - 1:26
Stephen Rooks - 1:29.53
With a blue sky backdrop and the sun dancing in and out from behind swift-moving clouds, snowshoe enthusiasts took to Sunlight Mountain Resort’s Babbish Gulch Sunday to benefit Colorado Animal Rescue.
Sixty participants came out for the 27th edition of the reorganized snowshoe race that Dorothy Howard started 28 years ago as the Day of Infamy race.
The event, which began as a tribute to veterans and those killed at Pearl Harbor in World War II, was held every year close to Dec. 7.
Over the years, it morphed into a benefit for animal shelters. Today, the event and its proceeds go to the Colorado Animal Rescue shelter located in Spring Valley.
Last year’s event had to be canceled because of poor snow conditions, so organizers decided to move the event later in the season and change the name.
Its long-time organizer, Howard, is handing the reigns over to CARE event coordinator Emily Sampley.
“We feel real good about the event this year; we are glad we are trying it at a different time of the year,” Sampley said.
The race course received a lot of snow Saturday night, making even better snow conditions for this year’s event, she said.
Sampley and other organizers were busy checking in competitors as the beginning of the race neared. Participants clamored together in the Sunlight base lodge, getting their equipment ready to head for the start line.
Mary Noone of Glenwood Springs was busy putting on her number, and said it was the first time in several years she had competed in the event.
“I remember thinking, this is harder than I thought it was. It takes a lot longer than you think,” Noone said.
“It’ll be great to go walking in the woods; enjoy a little competition. I’m not expecting to win, but I think it will be fun,” she said.
A few newcomers to snowshoeing, including Stephen and Jodie Rooks of Glenwood Springs, sat nervously at one of the tables as the race time approached.
“I’m a little bit nervous. I’ve never snowshoed before,” Jodie Rooks said. “It’s a good experience to go out and support a good cause, and also see the beauty of Colorado.”
Stephen Rooks said he is recovering from a shoulder injury and has not been able to ski. He was excited just to get out and hike while supporting a good cause.
“I plan on starting off easy and seeing what I have at the finish,” he said.
The popular Glenwood Springs event is a tradition for some competitors, including Lea Ann Zinnikas of New Castle.
A three-time entrant, Zinnikas said she is shooting for one hour and 59 minutes, just under the two-hour limit.
“I’m not a runner, so we’re just walking,” Zinnikas said. “It’s a lot of fun, great scenery, good exercise and fun people,”
As the sun snuck behind the clouds, racers burst off the line. A handful sprinted up the trail, with the walkers pacing themselves up the steep, snow-covered terrain.
Within minutes, the competitors had disappeared into the trees just above the base of Sunlight Mountain. A few stragglers took in the beauty of the towering aspen trees surrounding the trail up the gulch.
Retiring organizer Howard took in her final race at the helm from the finish line near the stables at Sunlight.
After a long silence and nearly an hour later, the clacking of snowshoes could be heard coming from the distance.
In a full sprint, Kevin Hadfield rounded the last bend in the trail to take the win. With organizers cheering him on, Hadfield crossed the line in 47 minutes and 54 seconds.
One by one, the top runners crossed the finish, including top women’s finisher Heidi Vosbeck of New Castle. She clocked a time of 55 minutes, 37 seconds.
“Seeing the same people, familiar faces and just the camaraderie of all the racers, it’s really fun to see,” Howard reminisced. “I’ve done it for a long time, I’ll miss it, but I’ll be up here still.”
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