Gilles Parisien, race organizer for this Saturday's Dion Ignite the Night snowshoe race at Upper Canada Village, is ecstatic with the number of registrants for the inaugural event. Competitors will need to be wearing a head lamp (such as the one worn here by Parisien), for while the race starts under the bright lights of the Alight at Night display at UCV, much of the course is in the dark. Kevin Gould/Cornwall Standard-Freeholder/QMI Agency
It will likely be the biggest snowshoe race in Ontario.
“It’s above my expectations,” said Gilles Parisien, organizer of the Dion Ignite the Night snowshoe race, taking place on Saturday at Upper Canada Village.
“My initial goal was to hopefully have 80 snowshoers, and we already have 88 registered, so we’re really happy with that.”
There are always day-of-race registrations, so topping the 100 mark for competitors is a pretty realistic goal for race organizers.
“This will no doubt be the biggest snowshoe race in Ontario,” said Parisien, who wanted to do something a little different with the event, part of the Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Running Series, and the first of two local races. The other race takes place on Feb. 14, the Summerstown Forest event that is now in its third season.
Of those registered, 25 will use loaned snowshoes, something Parisien likes to see.
“That means there will be a lot of first-timers I think, which should make it really interesting,” said Parisien, who is on the Board of Directors with Snowshoe Canada.
There are plenty of local entrants, but also a sizeable crew from Ottawa, some from Toronto and the West Island, and of course, one from Panama.
Wait . . . Panama?
Part of that Ottawa contingent, in the area visiting friends, and well, why not?
“He’s never snowshoed, didn’t even have a pair of running shoes, but he’ll be trying it out,” said Parisien. “He’s signed up and ready to go.”
Parisien says the recent snowfall in the area helped bring up the number of entrants.
“I think the snow we had a few days ago really helped us — it showed people that there will be snow to race on,” said Parisien.
For race organizers, it came at the perfect time.
“It was very sketchy,” said Parisien, of making preparations for the race without the most important ingredient — snow.
“I had already mapped out a road race, because I didn’t think it would happen.”
It will though, and without the -25 temperatures experienced in the area on Wednesday evening.
“I’ve ran snowshoe races in -25, it’s not that bad,” said Parisien.
For the runners maybe, but others?
“Yeah, the snowshoers are fine, it’s the volunteers you worry about. The snowshoers are moving — after about 800 metres, they’re fine — but the volunteers are just standing out there, not moving around,” said Parisien. “It can get pretty cold.”
For Saturday’s race, temperatures are expected to be around -10, or pretty close to perfect according to Parisien.
“Ideally, I would say about -9, -10, are the best racing conditions, and that’s what they’re calling for, so we will likely have close to ideal conditions.”
The Alight the Night event at Upper Canada Village officially ended on Jan. 3, but the lights will be on for Saturday’s snowshoe run, and spectators (there is no charge) are welcome.
Much of the race though (10 km, two loops of five km), is in the dark, meaning head lamps are a necessity.
The race starts at 6 p.m., with registration starting at 4:30 p.m. at the Harvest Barn at Upper Canada Village. Aside from the 10 km. Dion Points Series Race (the first in the 2015 Dion Eastern Ontario Snowshoe Running Series), there is a five km Challenge (no series points awarded) and a children’s fun run (35 free snowshoes are available to loan).
For information on the event, or snowshoe racing in general, contact Parisien at email@example.com.