Racers take to snowshoes for Sunlight Day of Infamy
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The consensus seemed to be that a snowshoe race that starts uphill and finishes downhill is the way to go.
That’s just how it went at Sunday’s 17th annual Day of Infamy Snowshoe Race at Sunlight Mountain Resort near Glenwood Springs. The racers started the 8K race plodding up the Babbish Gulch cross-country trails and took a breather on the long downhill toward the finish.
“The hardest part was probably the first hill that climbs to the first cabin,” 47-year-old Heidi Vosbeck said. “It takes a while to get warmed up, but the snow was great. It was nice and hard-packed. Once you get to the downhill, you can tell yourself you’ve finally made it.”
Vosbeck, from Glenwood Springs, was the first overall women’s finisher with a time of 52 minutes, 52 seconds. She ran the race with her friend, Dennis Webb, of Silt.
“I was working pretty hard out there,” she said. “I just wanted to keep Dennis in shape.”
Webb managed to squeak out an eight-second win over Vosbeck, and was third in the men’s 46-and-up category, finishing in 52:44. She also ran with another friend, Myriah Blair. This was Blair’s first time on the course.
“I felt really good going on the downhill,” Blair, a 31-year-old from Glenwood Springs, said. “I can run that. The uphills were pretty tough. I had a little track hack going.”
Blair was the second woman to cross the line and was the winner in the 45-and-under bracket with a time of 55:44.
“It’s fun how the scenery is changing and you have rolling hills. It keeps you motivated,” Blair said. “There’s no taking breaks out there.”
Many of the racers wore nothing more than light sweats or tights and a thin windbreaker. The sun was shining and the temperatures climbed toward 50 degrees.
But one problem that comes with pleasant weather is snow sticking to the cold cleats on the snowshoes, noted men’s second-place finisher Bernie Boettcher, 46, of Silt.
“In the sun you’re nice and warm, but when you get into the shadows your cleats are cold and (the snow) sticks immediately,” he said. “I had a build-up of snowballs, baseball size, under my cleats.”
Boettcher is familiar with the Infamy course since he’s run it seven or eight times. He’s missed a few years to run the Tucson Marathon held on the same weekend, though. Boettcher is an accomplished long-distance trail and road runner who loves to see all the local faces.
“The main thing I like is that it’s local and I see a lot of people I know. We don’t have many local winter trails, especially single-track,” he said. “The smooth and fast sections make it easy to pass if you need, and the single-track forces you to work on your trail skills.”
Being early in the winter, and since the snow really hasn’t begun to fall, the trail was a little rough and pock-marked, Boettcher said.
“We didn’t have sure footing out there,” he said.
The first racer to cross the finish line was 46-year-old Charlie Wertheim, of Glenwood. He’s known Boettcher for a dozen years and has been in many races with him. But Boettcher was skeptical of Wertheim’s win and how he obtained it.
“I’m almost certain he’s under the influence of performance-enhancing vegetables,” Boettcher joked. “He clearly has the advantage of being so young.”
Wertheim is about one month younger than Boettcher.
Wertheim said he felt pretty good during the race, but his breathing was off, and he was cramping up some.
“I ran hard,” he said, simply and with a laugh. “About as hard as I could. I really like this course because it’s on groomed trails and single-track. It’s not so much floundering in deep powder.”
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Aspen’s Nic Pevny and Basalt’s Tyler Sims finished 1-2