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Saratoga snowshoe race goes on, minus the snowshoes

Saratoga snowshoe race goes on, minus the snowshoes

Sunday’s race at Saratoga Spa State Park had the distinction of being scheduled as a snowshoe race:
Saratoga snowshoe race goes on, minus the snowshoes
Runners at start of the Winterfest 5K (No) Snowshoe Race held at the Saratoga Spa Park on Sunday morning. William Banks jumps over one of the muddy paths.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

Sunday’s race at Saratoga Spa State Park had the distinction of being scheduled as a snowshoe race: The 17th annual Saratoga Winterfest 5K Snowshoe race.

With a nearly complete lack of snow, the race still went off, but without snowshoes.

It was a shoe race, if you will.

Friends Shaun Donegan and Sam Mercado, both of Saratoga Springs, had different thoughts on that as they stretched before the run.

Mercado, 53, said he’s more of a regular shoe racer. That’s why he came out.

Donegan just went with it.

“I signed up anticipating a snowshoe race,” Donegan, 30, said as he stretched. “But, when life hands you lemons, man, you make lemonade.”

He certainly made the best of it, taking first place with a time of 16 minutes, 38 seconds as he ran in his non-snow shoes — and in shorts.

Several of Sunday’s racers actually ran the race in shorts as the sunny winter day saw highs hit the mid-40s, a far cry from the past couple of hard winters.

Despite the warm temperatures and lack of the title shoe wear, 59 racers came out and crossed the finish line, the post-race report indicated.

Race organizer Laura Clark said the warm weather knocked down numbers a bit. At the same time, she didn’t want to cancel the event, as participants already had it on their calenders.

Instead, they did the only thing they could do: ditch the snowshoes.

“I wish it would snow right now,” Clark said before the race. “But it is what it is.”

And, of course, why waste a good day?

“It’s just nice to get out,” she said.

The participants hailed from both camps, the snowshoers making the best of it and the runners also making the best.

Mike Seaman of South Glens Falls came out with some friends to the park to get some training in for longer summer runs.

“We just decided to come out here at 6, then we found out there was a race,” Seaman said, “and we’re doing that, too.”

Then there are the veterans of the regional snowshoe series.

Laurel Shortell, 49, of Northampton, Mass., hasn’t missed a series snowshoe race in 170 races. That goes back about 15 years.

She recalled driving through her share of snowstorms to make it to races. She had a clear drive Sunday.

“Last year was crazy,” Shortell said. “I loved the feel of the races. It felt like ‘this is real snowshoeing.’

“This year,” she added, “it’s just nice to see friends.”

Mercado, a member of the Saratoga Striders running club, welcomed the continuing nice weather.

“I don’t run a lot in the winter because of the weather, but this is a treat,” Mercado said. “I’ve been taking advantage of it.”

As for winter, that may finally come, soon. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures are expected to fall through the week. There could be 1 to 2 inches of snow Wednesday morning. By next weekend, low temperatures could hit zero or even dip below.

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