Frigid weather, fresh snowpack greet snowshoers at annual race

The 7th annual Summerstown Forest Dion Snowshoe Race was held February 8, and despite the very cold temperature (it was -16 at start time), race director Gilles Parisien was very pleased with the turnout, as 42 participants took to the trails.

Worse than the cold was the trail conditions, with the fresh heavy snow that had fallen over the two previous days making it challenging going for the runners. Despite organizers packing down the 20-25 cm of fluffy snow, the trails were still soft, and the athletes had to expend a lot of energy to move forward, akin to running in sand. This, in addition to the cold, had a number of runners switch from the 7.5 km race to the shorter 4.4 km course.

With the absence of local favourite Rob Lefebvre, who had won the last three editions, Corey Turnbull, of Smith Falls took the title this year. A regular at the race himself, he finished as runner-up two years ago.

Turnbull says he enjoys running the Summerstown Trails, declaring, “I love the rolling terrain, the wooded first section, and then through the conifers. There’s a magic at Summerstown Forest that I don’t find in other forests.” He likes it here so much that he brought a pair of 15-year-old runners from the club where he coaches, and they finished 1-2 in the shorter race, well ahead of the other racers.

On the women’s side, Lisa Leskien, from Cambridge, reclaimed the title she had lost last year. Cornwall’s Caroline Samson-Bélair finished third.

For the shorter race, Ottawa’s Heather Lewis came in first, with Melissa McGrath, from Monkland, second.

After the race, an exhausted but happy McGrath exclaimed, “It’s so beautiful back there; it was worth the pain.”

This year’s race had an international flavour to it, with two participants hailing from the United States, on their way to Ottawa’s Winterlude. One of them hails from Beaumont, Texas! One wonders how much snowshoeing he does in Texas?

At the conclusion of the race, medals and prizes provided by local sponsors were handed out to the first-place finishers, and as is traditional, the rest of the prizes were drawn for amongst all the participants in the spirit of camaraderie which prevails in this sport.

files from Jean-Pierre Tibi

The Dion race is part of a series, with participants earning points. The next event is scheduled for February 15 in Milton.

Summerstown Forest Results – 7.5 km

  • 40:39 Corey Turnbull, Smiths Falls
  • 44:24 Dave McMahon, Chelsea
  • 46:50 Christian Bélair, Cornwall
  • 49:55 Sebastian Warner, Cornwall
  • 50:53 Lisa Leskien, Cambridge
  • 52:04 Lise Meloche, Chelsea
  • 53:00 Paul Shea, Gatineau
  • 53:30 Caroline Samson-Bélair, Cornwall
  • 55:39 Marc Chiarelli, Ottawa
  • 56:14 Rich Balderson, Nepean
  • 1:01:29 Sylvie Jacques, Ottawa
  • 1:01:39 Jennifer Gareau, Williamstown
  • 1:04:32 Josee Suprenant, Ottawa
  • 1:06:02 Guillaume Boileau, Cote-de-Lac
  • 1:08:28 Johan Stevens, Cornwall
  • 1:08:29 Crissy Stevens, South Glengarry
  • 1:09:04 Wendell Lafave, Williamstown
  • 1:09:58 Russell Dirks, Ottawa
  • 1:12:46 Mick Saunders, Stirling
  • 1:13:33 Chantal Lalonde Beaudette, Cornwall
  • 1:15:06 Tom Patterson, Smiths Falls
  • 1:22:56 Tamara Dirks, Ottawa
  • 1:22:57 Kris Jones, Port Orchard
  • 1:22:58 Diana Jones, Port Orchard

Summerstown Forest Results – 4.4 km

  • 23:59 Max Benda, Smiths Falls
  • 23:45 Jacob McLean, Smiths Falls
  • 36:42 Rafeek Mohamed, Cornwall
  • 37:58 Heather Lewis, Ottawa
  • 40:21 Melissa McGrath, Monkland
  • 40:38 Chuck Charlton, Ottawa
  • 43:11 Emily Van Koopen, Newington
  • 44:30 Clare Gallant, Pakenham
  • 48:54 Tasha Thompson, Cornwall
  • 49:06 Patricia Coons, Ottawa
  • 50:02 Lynn McCuaig, Lancaster
  • 50:20 Bryan Fedor, Beaumont
  • 53:45 Thomas Vo, Harrisburg
  • 54:32 Linda Ford, Cornwall
  • 54:33 Yvon Duval, Alexandria
  • 54:53 Rose Parent, Cumberland
  • 54:57 Leslie Ann Patry, Cumberland
  • 55:21 Tasha Spafford, Amherstview

The snowshoe race is organized by the Friends of the Summerstown Trails. Volunteers maintain the trails throughout the winter and provide special programming and equipment rentals (weekends and holidays). Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat bike riding are all available. The Summerstown Forest is located on Summerstown Road (County Road 27), 1.6 km north of exit 804 of the 401 at Summerstown Station.

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