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As we closed out February with blizzard conditions and officially eclipsed 500 inches for the season thus far, I wanted to share an experience from a recent race.  I often write about the races I run, but this one is perhaps a little different than what you might be expecting: it was The Racing Gnome Snowshoe Race!

Our local Tahoe running club, the Donner Party Mountain Runners, puts on a snowshoe race in February of every year, and this year marked my third participation and first since 2019!  Many of you are likely familiar with snowshoeing, but snowshoe running?  Yep, it’s a thing!  In fact, there are lighter and more dynamic snowshoes with a much smaller surface area made specifically for running. And I have to say, it’s refreshingly fun.  Getting out and running on trails that are buried in snow is an especially rewarding experience when you wouldn’t be able to access those trails otherwise (at least on foot).  The degree of difficulty depends a lot on the status of the snow.  If you’re snowshoe running in deep powder, it will be very difficult.  If the track is packed down more, it makes it that much easier. Best case scenario, the trails are either groomed or packed down by snowmobile riders, and then most of the hard work is already done for you!

This year’s Racing Gnome was held at the Prosser Hill OHV, an area commonly used by snowmobilers.  Thankfully for us race participants, they packed down an amazing track, and even with a big snow season, the course was near perfect.  The race has a 5k and 10k option, and I chose to run the 5k option so my daughter could get home afterwards to take her morning nap!  I like to tell people that I think snowshoe running has a 2x multiplier (so maybe I did run the 10k?)  in relation to regular running: it’s simultaneously very fun and a really tough workout!  For me, the thing I love the most is the simplicity of it.  Strap on your running shoes, pop into the snowshoes and you’re off.  Minimal gear, maximal enjoyment.  It’s also a nice alternative to some of the busier and more popular sports that take precedence during the winter season in Tahoe.

So as the snow continues to fly into March, if you’re looking for something to spice up your winter recreation, try snowshoe running!  It’s a workout, it’s fun, and it can be done virtually anywhere.  If you start now, you’ll be more than prepared to line up alongside me at the 2024 edition of The Racing Gnome!