MONTROSE – If you think walking in snowshoes gets your heart rate up, try running in them. A new event to be held at Black Canyon National Park on Jan. 8 will allow just that, when runners in snowshoes will take off on the Winter Rim Romp, a new five-mile (8K) run/walk to benefit the Montrose Community Foundation.
The San Juan Mountain Runners, a running club with members from Telluride, Montrose, Ouray, Gunnison and other area towns, is organizing the event, said member Scott Shine, and the entry fee is $30. The run starts at 10 a.m. and entrants should pre-register at blackcanyonraces.com.
“If you register in advance, you get a winter beanie for doing the race – and a hot lunch afterwards,” Shine said.
For those who want to snowshoe but not enter the race, park rangers will offer a somewhat milder activity, guided walks along park trails for the whole family that start at 10:05 a.m. The ranger walks are free and lunch is available for $5. The park provides snowshoes.
“We see it was a way to get kids and families out and active,” Shine said. “We will have a hot lunch of chili with tents set up so people can enjoy the views of the canyon in the winter.”
The 8K run will begin at the Visitor’s Center for an out-and-back course that goes over small hills as it curves along the canyon rim, with an aid station serving water at the two-and-a-half-mile turnaround point, Shine said.
Sponsors for the run include Hammer Nutrition, Jeans Westerner, Masters Law Firm, Anytime Fitness, Montrose Association of Commerce and Tourism, and Coffee Trader, Shine said, and the Montrose Community Foundation is a co-sponsor.
Providing funding for the Montrose Community Foundation, now in its 21st year, is important because it helps support many other nonprofits with annual grants, offers student scholarships and more, Shine said.
According to its website, the mission of the foundation includes connecting charitable donors to community causes, promoting worthwhile community projects, growth and management of permanent endowment funds, providing grants and other support to community organizations, and facilitating estate and legacy giving.
Giving back to the foundation through the Winter Rim Romp will also be fun for the racers, Shine said.
“Running in snowshoes is kind of a new thing and it’s getting more and more popular,” he said. “Some companies make snowshoes just for running that are smaller, but it’s harder than running on pavement – a lot harder.”
Still, with the smaller snowshoes, usually 8 by 25 inches or less, runners can get to a running stride, Shine said. Prizes will be awarded for overall male and female winners, probably gift cards to local businesses. Everyone who enters the race will also be entered into a raffle for outdoor gear from local businesses, he said.
The key to snowshoe running, according to Running Times Magazine's website, runningtimes.com, is to think in terms of time, not distance, since it can take up to an hour to cover just three or four miles. Snowshoe running is a higher quality aerobic workout while enjoying the outdoors, according to the website, and heart rates climb quite high even at slower speeds, especially at higher altitudes. But the overall impact on the body is less, for the same cardiovascular benefits as street running, because of the slower pace and softer surfaces underfoot.
“Snowshoeing engages stabilizing muscle groups around the hips and core more than road running,” the website states, and the risk of injury is less.
To learn more about snowshoe running, check out the website of the United States Snowshoe Association at snowshoeracing.com.
The site lists other snowshoe races in the state, such as the Swift Skedaddle Snowshoe Race in Silverthorne on Jan. 6 and the Colorado State Snowshoe Championship on Jan. 15 at Ski Cooper.
Snowshoe racing is not a big spectator sport, Shine said, since it’s hard to view the runners along the route, but viewers can see racers leave and “congratulate them as they finish,” he said. since the start/finish area will be near the Visitor’s Center.
“They could also walk out a ways along the course and observe more,” he said.
The San Juan Mountain Runners holds “fun runs” on Saturdays and may launch a 13.1-mile half-marathon at Black Canyon in the fall of 2011, Shine said. But the club’s biggest event is the annual Black Canyon Ascent in May, which last year drew more than sixty runners for men’s and women’s races.
“We’ve been doing it for 35 years, and we get some elite runners for it,” Shine said.
To learn more about the running club, Shine can be reached at 970/901-9667 or firstname.lastname@example.org.