"Snowshoes not needed!" – how do you hold a snowshoeing championship without any snow?

A man running in snowshoes
Unseasonably warm weather forced race organizers to rethink the event at the last minute (Image credit: michelangeloop)

Winter runners preparing for the US Snowshoe National Championships have no doubt spent the last few months building up their distances and refining their poling technique not to mention perfecting the art of dressing for aerobic activity in cold temperatures. What they probably didn't factor in, however, is what to do if there isn't any snow.

The championships – which include a 10k and half marathon run in snowshoes –  were scheduled to take place in Eau Claire, Wisconsin over the weekend, a place known for below freezing temperatures in February. This year, however, unseasonably warm temperatures with recent daily highs in the 50s have meant the area has no snow.

Undeterred, the United States Snowshoe Association decided to move ahead with the event anyway, posting on Instagram late last week instructing participants to ditch their snowshoes and wear trail running shoes instead.

"Trail update: snowshoes not needed! Snow has melted with a week of highs in the 50’s. Looks like we’ll cool off for the weekend and the trails will firm up."

"I woke up to about an eighth of snow so I knew that the snowshoes weren't going to be on my feet but you know, it was a good winter," says runner Morgan Elliot, winner of the 10k men's race with a time of 36:26, who said that the runners were still battling cold temperatures despite the lack of white stuff.

In another post yesterday, the organizers noted that they need to consider what to do with the results since the event was, in fact, a trail running race.

"We are figuring out what to do about the national team criteria since we didn’t actually race on snowshoes."

Photos from the race do shoe the trails looking disappointedly bone dry, but fortunately they also appear mud-free, and the participants look as though they're making the most of the event anyway.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.