Local high school runners eye state snowshoe title in Leadville on Jan. 30 | SummitDaily.com

Local high school runners eye state snowshoe title in Leadville on Jan. 30

Summit Daily staff report

Snow can't keep a good cross-country runner down. It just means switching from trail shoes to snowshoes.

This coming weekend on Jan. 30, hundreds of snowshoe runners from across the state come to Leadville for the Colorado High School Snowshoe Championships. Tigers cross-country star McKenna Ramsay will compete. As a freshman, she took first in the 5K run at state in 2013 and looks to take another title as a senior.

The race recently moved from Summit County to Leadville and is now held on the Colorado Mountain College campus just outside of downtown. Spectators are welcome to come cheer Ramsay and other local athletes. Before you go here's a look at the course and more.

The course

This year's 5K course is entirely above 10,000 feet. The start is on the multi-purpose field on the CMC Timberline Campus. It has a gradual 125-foot climb in the first mile, followed by a long, gradual downhill to mile two. The last mile is an undulating roller coaster of steep ups and steep downs. Racers will finish on the 200-meter loop around the multi-purpose field.

The last half-mile of the 5K is the same course the 800-meter sprint racers will run. As the 5K racers approach the multi-purpose field, they will head west back into the trees, which is very similar to the Lake County Invitational — a high school snowshoe race from earlier in the seasons. This last half-mile has the two steepest hills in the race. Both are short and fun. Racers drop down through the park behind the residence hall and come back up to the multi-purpose field. The 800-meter racers are finished at that point. The 5K racers must complete an Olympic-style finish, running a lap around the 200-meter loop.

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The state snowshoe championships is nearly like a track meet on snow. Along with cross-country, most runners also run for track teams come spring and are familiar with sprints and relays. The 200-meter and 400-meter racers will run one and two loops around the multi-purpose field, respectively. The loop is flat. The 1,600-meter medley relay will run 200-200-400-800, which will be one lap, one lap, two laps and an 800 loop.

About 99 percent of the racecourse is run on groomed trails that are four to five runners wide. The only singletrack will be behind the residence hall and through the terrain park.

Spectators at the 5K course will watch the racers take off, pass the 2.5-mile mark and round the final loop on the field. The course runs through a dense lodgepole pine forest that was skipped over by pine beetles. Great views of Mount Elbert and Mount Massive can be seen from campus.

Don't have snowshoes? Don't worry!

For the third year in a row, Crescent Moon Snowshoes from Boulder will be providing loaner snowshoes for the race. There is a limited supply of race shoes and regular snowshoes. They are on a first come, first serve basis.

Scoring and awards

For right now, scoring will be done on the 5K only. Boy's and girl's teams will be scored like a cross-country meet.

Since the sprint events are new, organizers are looking for ways to score the meet differently in the future like a track meet.

All-State for the 5K will be the top-5 finishers for each gender. The top winners in the sprint events will be medaled; the top relay will also be medaled, and, in a fun twist on typical high school sports, the relay is co-ed.