When the United States Snowshoe Association hosts its national championships Feb. 26-28 in and around Ogden, Utah, it will be the first time in the organization’s history it will offer a 26.2-mile marathon. It may also be the last time the association hosts a national championship.
Mark Elmore, sports director of U.S. Snowshoe Association, says the organization has been in discussions with USA Track & Field for the past three years to have the Olympic umbrella organization host the snowshoe national championships in the future. But he never envisioned it was going to take this long.
“We did change a few things this year with our U.S. Snowshoe Association program to become more similar to how USA Track & Field conducts their national championship programs so that … if the two entities meld together, there would be a relatively seamless transition,” Elmore says.
The biggest change was U.S. Snowshoe Association stopped requiring athletes to prequalify for the event by attending an association-sanctioned qualifying event in their region prior to the national championships.
Still, a lot remains in limbo.
“By no means is it a done deal,” says Nancy Hobbs, executive committee chair for the Mountain Ultra Trail Sport Council, which falls under the long-distance running division of USATF. “But we are moving in that direction.”
Richard Bolt, an MUT council member, says the initial idea came about while he was serving as U.S. Snowshoe Association race director for the national championships in Bend, Oregon, in 2013—a role he will repeat in 2017—and working with Elmore.
“There is an enormous amount of crossover into snowshoeing,” says Bolt, who competed on two USATF world mountain running championship teams in 1999 and 2002. “It’s pretty much the same people who do both sports.”