BOYLSTON — Shouting, clapping and cheering were just some of the sounds heard by those who ran in the Norway 5K snowshoe event Sunday at Winona State Forest in Boylston.
Hosted by the Winona Forest Recreation Association, the event kicked off Winona’s 2022 snowshoe race season on the new, single-track Norway trail, cut over the summer.
Matt Westerlund, association president and snowshoe race director, said he has done a lot of snowshoe running for more than 10 years, which is why he wanted to bring the event to the north country.
“Because I’m from here, and I’m seeing the trails that we have access to, I thought that this was the perfect grounds for snowshoe and snowshoe racing,” Mr. Westerlund said.
The course began across the street from the trailhead parking area. Participants crossed the road, then did a “lollypop loop” before ending the 3.1-mile race.
Mr. Westerlund said that about 90 people signed up to run, but he wasn’t sure if that many people would actually show up because of the rainy weather. The race results page on the association’s website lists 52 finishers.
The first person to cross the finish line was Luke Tighe, of Pulaski, who completed the course in 25 minutes, 44 seconds.
Another runner was Joe Imbriaco, a soldier of the 10th Mountain Division. He was joined by his pet husky Neige, whose name translates from French to “snow,” and was adopted from North Country Pet Adoption Services in October.
Mr. Imbriaco said that he was “just trying to hold his own,” when it came to running with Neige in what he called “husky weather.”
The Norway 5K is a sneak peak of things to come at Winona State Forest.
“It is a good training run for the big race in two weeks, which is the Stone Wall,” Mr. Westerlund said.
Mr. Westerlund said that these events have grown to be some of the biggest in the country. People from all across the United States descend upon the north country to take part in the snowshoeing races.
“We had a guy from Utah last year, we’ve got people from Texas here today,” Mr. Westerlund said Sunday, adding that people come from all over the Northeast and New England.
Before the race began, Mr. Westerlund urged participants to use snowshoes instead of just using boots. The snowshoes allow for better grip to the ground, he said, lowering the risk of injuries such as sprained or twisted ankles.
“There is no harm in wearing a snowshoe. If you think you’re faster without one, and you have a big, thick cleat, then I suppose. But I would not recommend it,” Mr. Westerlund said to the group of runners before the race.
If snow hadn’t arrived in the days leading up to the race, people would have participated virtually and come on a different day, Mr. Westerlund said.
The Stone Wall 5K and 10K runs are scheduled for Jan. 23. The snowshoe event season will culminate on Feb. 20 with The Orange Course.
To register, visit wdt.me/WinonaSnowshoe.