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Griffin, Highland Forest host USSSA qualifier

Local to compete in national snowshoeing championship

Participants in the United States Snowshoe Association qualifying 5k race begin their trek in front of the Highland Forest Skyline lodge on Feb. 12 as Cazenovia resident and event organizer Chary Griffin, center, wearing a Russian ushanka hat, starts her timer. Racers had planned on competing in the 5k and 10k jaunts using snowshoes, but were allowed to wear running shoes due to lack of snow. Cazenovia High School student Rae Tobey, 18, won the 10k race and will compete in the USSSA National Championship, to be held Feb. 25 in Frisco, Colo.

Participants in the United States Snowshoe Association qualifying 5k race begin their trek in front of the Highland Forest Skyline lodge on Feb. 12 as Cazenovia resident and event organizer Chary Griffin, center, wearing a Russian ushanka hat, starts her timer. Racers had planned on competing in the 5k and 10k jaunts using snowshoes, but were allowed to wear running shoes due to lack of snow. Cazenovia High School student Rae Tobey, 18, won the 10k race and will compete in the USSSA National Championship, to be held Feb. 25 in Frisco, Colo. Andrew Casler

— The women’s 5k winner and men’s 10k winner both utilized the traction; adding slip-ons.

Rachel Jones, 13, the women’s 5k winner plans to race in the national championship. Unfortunately, Jones said she hasn’t been able to use her snowshoes much this season.

USSSA Qualifying Race Results

Women’s 10k winner:

—Rae Tobey, 18, of Cazenovia, 49:38.

Men’s 10k winner:

—Eric Sambolec, 34, of Ithaca, 42:08.

Women’s 5k winner:

—Rachel Jones, 13, of Fairport, 29:08.

Men’s 5k winner:

—Eric Hulbert, 16, of Mexico, N.Y., 22:56.

According to Griffin, snowshoe racing is more challenging and requires different technique than running on icy trails.

“With snowshoeing you need to pace yourself quite a bit more because it’s harder,” she said. “The more evenly you spread your endurance level out, and not over do it in the beginning, the better off you are.”

Lack of snow accumulation could prove to be a disadvantage for racers from the Northeast. Scarce snow accumulation led to sneaker races in Saratoga and Vermont, too.

Griffin said she enjoys snowshoe racing because if offers a higher level of challenge than she’s found elsewhere.

“[Courses will have] hills and side-hills involved, you’ll be fording a steam and climbing over sticks.”

For snowshoe race fans and prospective competitors who aren’t able to travel west for this year’s national championship, there is hope in sight.

The event should return to the Northeast in 2014. Although there will be other towns looking to host the championship, it is certain that Highland Forest will put in a bid to host the race.

Andrew Casler is a Cazenovia High School alumnus and freelance journalist for Eagle Newspapers. He can be reached at arc294@cornell.edu.

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