It was a seasonably cold but sunny Saturday morning in January for the 5th annual Moose Mountains RunAround snowshoe race and Kids Snowshoe Shuffle, at Abenaki Ski Area in Wolfeboro.
More than 60 participants, including 32 snowshoe racers, a dozen children, 15 volunteers, plus supportive friends and family members, ventured out to the event, which is a fund-raiser benefiting local land trust Moose Mountains Regional Greenways.
The snowshoe race course was two laps around a hilly 2-mile combination of scenic ski trails and single track. Race Director and MMRG Board member Dan Coons reported that John Carton, 52, had winning men's time at 32 minutes, 26 seconds and the top women's finisher was Haley Heinrich, 26, with a time of 34 minutes, 55 seconds.
Heinrich, from Wolfeboro, is a longtime runner and loves the outdoors but just recently started snowshoeing. Remarkably, this win was her first race on snowshoes. "It was such a great experience!" exclaimed Heinrich. "I liked the double loop, a chance to learn it the first time around and pace it the second time. And I liked the camaraderie; everyone was so friendly. But maybe the best part was the prizes - the moose hat is so awesome."
This was the third Moose Mountains RunAround snowshoe race for participant Tom Zotti of Wolfeboro, who was dressed in wildly patterned tights, neon yellow neoprene booties, and other colorful apparel. Zotti explained that the booties are sold as bicycling gear but did a great job keeping his feet warm and dry during the race. He commented that he likes that MMRG works to protect open spaces, adding, "What better way to support the cause than to get out on the trails?" Zotti also helped mark the race course in advance, one of many volunteer tasks that went into producing the snowshoe race.
Immediately following the snowshoe race, MMRG held a Kids Snowshoe Shuffle, a non-competitive obstacle course for kids to have fun in the snow, which attracted more than a dozen participants this year. Kids got to try out loaner snowshoes from Tuftonboro Free Library while they ducked under foam hoop arches, placed their feet inside rings laid out on the snow, carefully carried a stuffed moose in a shovel or some candy 'moose poop' in a spoon, and other entertaining challenges. Many children had so much fun they did it multiple times.