Emma Saaltink pads her way toward the finish line at the Summerstown Trails during last year's Summerstown Forest Snowshoe Race. The Summerstown race will be held again this year, one of two Dion Snowshoe Running Series events in the area. The other will take place at Upper Canada Village, at night. GREG PEERENBOOM/CORNWALL STANDARD-FREEHOLDER/QMI AGENCY
The future looks bright for local snowshoe racing.
There will be two races in the area this season, both part of the Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Running Series.
The first event takes place on Jan. 10, at Upper Canada Village, and it’s a night race.
“I was looking for a unique place to attract snowshoe racers,” said race organizer Gilles Parisien, of the Ignite the Night event.
“Everyone in our area has heard of Alight the Night, and have probably seen it, and we wanted to do something with that.
“They welcomed me with open arms and were excited about it. They’re very accommodating,” added Parisien. “They’re actually leaving the lights on for an extra week, to host the race.”
The Alight the Night event is slated to end on Jan. 3, but the lights will be on for the snowshoe run.
Much of the race though, will be in the dark.
“Everyone needs to wear a head lamp, because while part of the race is in the village, a good part of it isn’t,” said Parisien, of the 10 km race (two loops of 5 km).
Parisien has raced at night before, and says runners are in for a treat.
“It’s pretty challenging,” he said. “Your senses are all totally awakened. You have to be aware of every step.
“Your light is showing you where your next step is. Your challenges are hiding in the dark. Normally, you might look ahead to see what’s coming up, but with this, it’s whatever your next step is, that’s what you concentrate on.
“There’s one stretch, Battlefield Hill, where you’re climbing, but you won’t know about it until you are right on it.”
Parisien expects a large turnout for the event.
“I think we’ll have close to 80, which would be one of the biggest snowshoe races in Ontario,” said Parisien, who is on the Board of Directors with Snowshoe Canada. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we get more, just judging by the response so far.”
Never snowshoe raced before? Doesn’t matter, according to Parisien.
“We have a lot of first-timers already. If you’re a runner, you can snowshoe race,” he said. “In snowshoeing, first-time racers often do very well, because they go in with no expectations, and no pressure.”
All organizers need now of course, is a little help from Mother Nature.
“That’s the only thing that’s out of our control, the weather,” said Parisien, who will also continue the successful Summerstown Forest event, now into its third season.
The Summerstown Forest run takes place on Feb. 14, and is also part of the Dion series.
For information on either event, or snowshoe racing in general, contact Parisien at email@example.com.