PITTSFIELD - Tagged the "Largest Snowshoe Race in North
America," by its founders and residents Joe Desena and Andy
Weinberg, 300 racers will haul up the mountain to the
south of Amee Farm March 1-3, complete with its dozen berm
turns and extreme vertical incline to claim the title
of best snowshoe racer in the country.
Desena, a Wall Street trader and co-creator of extreme
racing company Peak Races, said last week that in the
race's eight-year stretch, this is the most participants
for a race and it's one of the least marketed races by the
"The crazy thing is we don't really market it... somehow it's
become a big deal," Desena said. "It's such a fun event and
people are coming from all over."
Desena and Weinberg said participants this year are coming from
31 different states and seven different countries, as far north as
Canada and south as South America, purely from word of mouth.
Weinberg said those people are staying in lodges in Pittsfield
and Killington mostly for the three-day weekend and are
"bringing a lot of money into the community."
The race is 100 miles with options for going less. The Ultra
Snowshoe Race is 100 miles, or 15 loops, with each loop being
1,200-feet vertical and 6.5 miles.
Then there is a snowshoe marathon, which is four loops at 26.2
miles, a half marathon that's two loops at 13.1 miles and a 10k,
which is tagged a "one loop fun run."
The 100-mile race starts Friday, March 1 at 8 a.m. and has a
36-hour cut off.
All other distances start Saturday morning at 8 a.m. The course
closes at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 3.
The only rules - don't cut the course and don't litter.
"We haven't done much. Just some flagging," Desena said about
But he mentioned that the course was designed for mountain
biking in the summer with steep verticals and is the scene of the
annual Death Race, where participants have to sign waivers in case
they actually do die performing the extreme athletic tasks.
The Death Race, created in 2005, has been featured in the New
York Times and has gained worldwide acclaim for being one of the
most challenging extreme races in the world - somewhat of an Iron
Man's obstacle course.
Then, Desena and partners founded the Spartan Race.
According to Desena's biography on the Spartan Race website:
"Joe turned an interest in endurance racing into a passion.
His racing resume is the stuff of legends - over 50 ultra-events
overall and 12 Ironman Events in one year alone. Most of his races
are 100 miles or more with a few traditional marathons in the mix.
(He once told me that my running a 26.2 marathon distance was
"adorable.") To put it in perspective, he did the Vermont 100, the
Lake Placid Ironman and the Badwater Ultra… in one week. For those
that don't know or just don't want to hear the gory details, the
elevation climb for Badwater is over 8,500 feet up to Mt. Whitney
and temperatures soar into the 120's. Joe also rode cross-country
to the Furnace Creek 508 which has been coined 'the Toughest 48
hours in sport.' It's no wonder his favorite quote is, 'Death is
the price we pay for life, so make it worth it.'"
With another race nearly under his belt, Desena and partner
Weinberg have a new idea - starting their own snowshoe
Desena said he had expected that there would be more interest among
manufacturers to come to the race to sell their stuff.
So instead, he's going to do it.
"We've been toying around with some metal. You need lightweight,
small shoes for this course," Desena said.
Weinberg chimed in, "This race can be for people want to hike
and enjoy their day or for some excellent athletes who want to get
a time and standing."
Cristina Kumka is a corespondent for The Mountain Times. She can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.