As a breeze kicked up, bringing Saturday's snowstorm to Farmer's Korner, runners dashed through the snowy fields surrounding Summit High School, kicking high with snowshoes on their feet.
To the average onlooker, it's a surprising sight. To the runners it's a nice way to get out in the snowy winters of the High Country.
And, it's a nice way for Summit High School to win a state championship, knocking Cheyenne Mountain High School off the top of the podium after three years.
The PowerBar Big Easy Snowshoe Race, formerly known as the Love Me Tender race, had 2k, 5k and 10k options, with the 5k being the Colorado High School Snowshoe State Championship and the 10k being a qualifying race for the national snowshoe race in Bend, Ore. The top 10 overall U.S. Snowshoe Association member finishers in qualifying events are eligible to register for the national championship.
As for the high school race, "It was really exciting. There was only about a three-point difference between us and Cheyenne Mountain. It was really close; we're really excited. ... They're one of the best distance-running teams in the state," race organizer Darren Brungardt said, adding that because snowshoeing is such a fledgling sport, the teams are co-ed.
Summit's team was comprised of Liam Meirow (3rd place among the boys), McKenna Ramsay (1st among the girls), Emily Pappas (3rd), Jessica Horii (4th) and McKinley Jones (5th). Because nine-year-old Alayna Szuch from Evergreen came in second in the girls' 5k, her finish was omitted from the high school standings, bumping everyone else forward.
Amongst the high school runners, Justin Weinmeister took the boys' championship and Summit's Ramsay took the girls'. Weinmeister was running for Lakewood High School in a vacant spot, though he attends Windsor High School.
The course, although flat, was challenging between the snowy surface and the weather.
"With a little bit of a breeze, this mile was tough," first-year competitor Weinmeister said of the section of a stretch headed south, almost directly into a strong wind. Overall, though, Weinmeister was happy with the course. "You could run fast and not worry about getting lost. I've done a few snowshoe races and that always seems to be a problem."
Ramsay was casual about her win, which is her second snowshoe state championship.
"It was hard, but fun," she said.
Summit cross-country runner Liam Meirow finished third. He collapsed onto the snow after crossing the finish line after running into trouble willing his body to move between miles one and two.
"The wind takes it out of you, so much. It's hard to breathe, the wind goes into your mouth. It was so gray, some spots you fall in and it takes 10 percent out of you. It was intense. Snowshoeing is a completely different game than running. It's like running with 10-pound plates on your feet. It's ridiculous," he said, adding, "Once we got to the downhill after mile two, I started to feel myself again and started going faster."
Saturday, Feb. 9
5k girls' results
1. McKenna Ramsay (Summit) - 30:32.41
2. Alayna Szuch (Evergreen Elementary) - 33:29.55
3. Madison Lambros (Cheyenne Mountain) - 34:16.15
4. Emily Pappas (Summit) - 34:52.95
5. Jessica Horii (Summit) - 36:22.33
6. McKinley Jones (Summit) - 37:26.29
7. Maddie Ivy (Lakewood) - 37:50.33
8. Erin Matheson (Lakewood) - 37:53.10
9. Sarah Maronick (Lakewood) - 37:54.42
10. Ana Fairbanks-Mahnke (Lakewood) - 38:04.91
5k boys' results
1. Justin Weinmeister (Windsor) - 24:23.65
2. Joshua Fowler (Cheyenne Mountain) - 25:40.90
3. Liam Meirow (Summit) - 26:43.40
4. Ben Fox (Cheyenne Mountain) - 26:49.91
5. Tristan Pelto (Cheyenne Mountain) - 27:10.72
6. Zach Kuzma (Cheyenne Mountain) - 27:13.32
7. Ryan Parker (Smoky Hill) - 27:34.02
8. Tristan Meyers (Cheyenne Mountain) - 28:05.65
9. Matt Klepfer (Cheyenne Mountain) - 30:26.45
10. Michael Andress (Smoky Hill) - 31:00.25
10k men's results
1. Tim Hola (Highlands Ranch, 40) - 54:53.71
2. Jonathan Fenske (Thornton, 43) - 57:31.96
3. Ron Thomasson (Longmont, 47) - 59:48.76
4. Dave O'Sadnick (Evergreen, 57) - 1:02:14.58
5. Brett Tomlinson (Frisco), 42) - 1:11:27.17
10k women's results
1. Lisa Mills (Smoky Hill, 51) - 1:05:02.5
2. Jill Heil (Summit Cove, 40) - 1:18:32.15
3. Amy Mastin (Silverthorne, 49) - 1:18:51.19
4. Michelle Lyman (Breckenridge, 39) - 1:22:45.40
5. Mary Pappas (Breckenridge, 45) - 1:23:43.28
5k adult results
1. Jerry Wentik (Glenwood Springs, 53) - 38:43.09
2. Stephen Houk (Air Force, 21) - 39:33.59
3. Anne Chapman (Breckenridge, 54) - 43:36.75
4. Lynn Amundsen (Denver, 47) - 48:01.35
5. Laureen Boll (Highlands Ranch, 44) - 51:21.17