Friday, January 29, 2010

Dion Running Snowshoes in Runners World

Runners World Magazine just did a review of various running snowshoes.

Here is the review for Dion Running Snowshoes...

Dion Snowshoes, $250
Started by veteran snowshoe race director and masters racer Bob Dion (he's a two-time age-group national champion), this upstart Vermont company offers semi-custom snowshoes—mix and match the frame, cleat and binding options to create your optimal setup. Most racers opt for the 7 x 21-inch Model 121 racing frame ($125) because it's the smallest and narrowest deck on the market that conforms to USSSA standards. The Quick-Fit binding ($65) offers a snug hold and easy adjustments without excess straps flapping around when you run. Unless you run and race on the same type of surface all the time, picking the cleat could be the tricky part. Dion recommends the Deep Cleat ($60), stating that it works well on groomed terrain and offers solid traction in broken snow and powder. This set-up weighs just over 2.5 pounds.

To read complete review, please click here.

Dion Snowshoes are available in Canada exclusively through Spafford Health and Adventure

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Snowshoe Magazine Gear Review: GU Energy Gels

Nothing is worse when out on the trails for a long snowshoe hike or run than bonking.
Bonking comes as a result of running out of fuel to your working muscles by not taking in enough calories during endurance events. This can range from a simple inconvenience that makes your snowshoe outing a little less fun all the way to being downright dangerous in extreme cases if caught a long distance out on the trail in cold conditions. If your body starts shutting down and quits operating as efficiently as normal, you can also become more prone to hypothermia or frostbite by not being able to generate as much heat...

Week of Jan 18-24

Training Summary:
Busy week with all the pre-snowshoe race planning and race day stuff. Not a bad week at times with some decent runs, but definitely feel like I've hit a bit of a plateau with the knee. Some days it isn't so bad, then some days it doesn't feel good at all. There seems to be no change if I run more or less, in fact, I sometimes think it feels better when running more. A little depressing when I see that the total number of hours I've run so far in the first 24 days of the year is the same as many normal weeks of training at times. Oh well, stay the course. Back to more rehab. Haven't been able to run on snowshoes much lately with the big melt now, which hasn't helped. Ended the week with a cold, which is par for the course after organizing a race.

Total # of hours this week – 4:58
Total # of hours this year – 19:13
Streak – 7,334 days of running in a row
Training Log Details

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race - Report and Results

(video credit: Jane Newman-Ralph)

Congratulations to everyone who took part in the Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race held on Saturday, January 23.

Conditions were fast and the competition was fierce as 35 snowshoe runners challenged the rolling 7.3km course at Frontenac Provincial Park. The weather was perfect for snowshoe racing with sunny skies and -7C.

Former Canadian National Cross Country running team member Taylor Murphy of Napanee posted the fastest time of the day winning in a time of 31:16. Taylor was followed by ultramarathoner Keith Iskiw of Kingston in 36:40, and Justin Pozin of Toronto in 37:10. Gilles Parisien of Cornwall was the top male masters runner in 38:03.

In the women’s race, Elizabeth Primrose of Brockville won in a time of 42:24, followed by Shauna Connaughton of Kingston in 44:34, and Eliza Murphy of Sydenham in 47:27. Kim Bohn of Kanata was the top female masters runner in 49:46.

Complete results are posted at Spafford Health and Adventure

Numerous awards and draw prizes were given out with one lucky participant going home with a pair of Dion Running Snowshoes. The vegetarian chili and munchies were also a hit for tired racers looking to refuel following their hard effort.

Many thanks to our sponsors Dion Running Snowshoes, Spafford Health and Adventure, La Sportiva, 5 Peaks Trail Running Series, Running Room, Trailhead and Stonehaven. A very special thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers.

One final thanks to Frontenac Provincial Park, and staff, for permitting us to hold this race in their beautiful park. We encourage you to come back to Frontenac Park again soon and explore it further.

For more race photos, please click here.

The next race in the SHA Trail Running Series is the Kingston 5 Peaks Trail Race on May 15, 2010.

See you on the trails!

Derrick Spafford
Race Director
Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race - Final Course Update

(January 22, 2010) We're just back in from setting up the course for the Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race.

Conditions will be fast for most of the route with hard packed snow. There are a few sections that feature some uneven footing between the 2 - 4 km point. You'll have to pay close attention to the trail here, but it was in that much better shape after we went over it a couple of times this afternoon. I'll be running the course first thing tomorrow morning again and that should help to smooth it out further.

On the whole though, the conditions are very good and will make for an awesome race.

Looking forward to a fun day tomorrow.

See you soon!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race - Course Conditions Update

(Jan 21/10) I just got back from a snowshoe run at Frontenac Park on the race course for this weekend’s Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race. The course is still in excellent shape and we will be using our planned route. No snow has been lost there since last Sunday and it looks like they have even received a few cm’s of snow in addition.

The snow is quite packed down so the conditions will be pretty fast for the most part. Due to the hardening of the snow after mild conditions there are a few sections where the footing is a bit uneven, however this improved with even just me running over it the one time today. We will be running the course at least twice more before race day to pack it down and smooth it out a bit more.

There are still a few sections from the 2-4km point that have some rocks, roots and stumps to go around, but this is easily done. You will just need to be a little more careful on this section and watch your footing…especially on the downhills.

After the 4km point it is lightning fast and exceptionally good conditions. Save some energy for this section as you’ll want to be flying and will have a blast.

The final 2km will be packed down very nicely after the start of the race, so conditions will be great here as well and make for a fast finish.

If you have any questions about the race or course conditions, please post a comment below or email me directly.

Oh, just one more thing. CKWS TV in Kingston interviewed me for the race and will be airing the interview either tonight or Friday night during the news broadcast.

See you on race day!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Week of Jan 11-17

What an incredible weekend of racing for Canadian runners!

There have been some great single performance results by Canadians in the past, but I'm hard pressed to find something to get this excited about as a fan of all types of running.

First off, Canadians ran exceptionally well at the HURT 100miler in Hawaii. Gary Robbins not only won the race, but ran the fastest time ever on one of the toughest 100 mile courses out there beating Geoff Roes course record by 16 minutes. For those who don't follow ultra running, Roes was the '2009 Ultra runner of the year'. Tracy Garneau, also of BC, won the woman's race, finished 3rd overall, and also set a new womans course record. Incredible performances by these two and they each look to be getting faster all the time. It should be a great year for both of them.

Another great weekend result came from Simon Bairu of Saskatchewan, who soundly beat Ryan Hall of the US at the Arizona Half Marathon. Bairu’s time was 62:47.

Also of note was Eric Gillis who ran the second fastest ever Canadian marathon debut at the Houston Marathon in a time of 2:13:56.

A very exciting time for Canadian distance running.

Training Summary:
I was pleased how my week continued to go. I’ve been able to increase my volume a little more and feel like I’m gaining a little bit of fitness back. My knee still twinges at times, but I’m trying to keep things under control and not do too much too soon.

Total # of hours this week – 6:13
Total # of hours this year – 14:15
Streak – 7,327 days of running in a row
Training Log Details

I'm really looking forward to this coming week for a couple of reasons. The Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race will be held on Saturday, and should be a very fun event.

Also, what better way to relax after a snowshoe race than by watching the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour! It is a must see for the outdoor enthusiast. We are very fortunate to have it come to Kingston and encourage everyone to get out and support this great event to make sure that it keeps coming back. For details on the Banff Festival, check out Trailhead Kingston.

Here is the trailer for the 2010 Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour…

Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race - Course/snow conditions

(Jan 17/10): Trail/snow conditions were good to excellent for snowshoe running on Sunday in anticipation of the Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race next Saturday.

The snow was soft in places, but there is still so much snow in the park that it wasn't a problem. There were a few sections that had exposed rocks, roots and mud, but they were easy to avoid. Sara, EJ and I all ran the course which helped to pack it down further from where hikers (without snowshoes) had chewed up the trail a little. Sara even wore her Dion Deep Cleats (for deep snow conditions) on her snowshoes and had no problem with hitting ground.

0-2km: Excellent snow conditions. Deep snow on the wide trail. Well packed down and quite smooth.

2-4.5km: Fair to good snow conditions. This is the most technical part of the course that includes negotiating around a few rocks, roots and tree stumps. Snow is melted off of a few of the wooden bridges, but just take it easy going across and you'll be fine. The softer snow conditions over this section of the Corridor trail is now in much better shape after the 3 of us ran over it to pack it down.

4.5-5.4km: Excellent snow conditions. This section is packed down very well. The long bridge past the Big Salmon Lake boat launch still has snow on it too. This is the fastest section of the course and you'll be able to fly, even with some good rolling hills.

5.4km-7.3km: Same as first 2km, excellent snow conditions. After everyone has packed this down further at the start of the race, this section will be in exceptional shape for the final sprint to the finish.

There is always a lot more snow in the park than what is in Kingston or surrounding areas. We've had a lot of people contact us who are concerned about the conditions for the race, but we would have to get a huge melt for there to be a problem considering how good the base is right now. Worst case scenario if a big melt did occur is that we would still be running a snowshoe race, but exclude the Corridor Trail section.

The temperatures are dropping below 0C each night, and some flurries are in the forecast this week, so conditions should remain good or even improve. I expect to be running the course again later in the week and will post further updates if conditions change.

See you on race day!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Spafford Health and Adventure Trail Running Series

Spafford Health and Adventure is thrilled to announce the 2010 Spafford Health and Adventure Trail Running Series.

For 2010 there will be three races in the series consisting of the Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race, Kingston 5 Peaks Trail Race (Enduro course) and the Sydenham Fall Trail Run.

  • Points will be awarded for male and female placings at each race (ie. 10th place = 10 points).

  • Top two races will count for the series, with the lowest overall point total being awarded the series champion.

  • Run in all three races and receive an additional ‘bonus’ point taken off of your top two total.
The SHA Trail Running Series champions will be announced at the Sydenham Fall Trail Run. Male and female winners will each receive a pair of La Sportiva Trail Running Shoes.

Good luck to everyone!

See you on the trails,

Derrick Spafford
Race Director & Series Coordinator
Spafford Health and Adventure Trail Running Series

Friday, January 15, 2010

Snowshoe Magazine: The Perfect Snowshoe Run

The last three months have been a real struggle for me. I have been nursing a very stubborn knee injury that has prevented me from running very much at all. I’ve still been able to get out for short runs each day, but they haven’t been anywhere near as long as what I normally love to get in. And, I must say that an injured runner is a grumpy runner...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race - Course preview

The Dion Frontenac Snowshoe Race will be held on Saturday, January 23 at Frontenac Provincial Park, just 30mins north of Kingston.

The course has been measured by GPS at 7.3km and is of a lollipop design (out and back with a loop at the top). The first (and last) 1.9km features a wide trail to give you lots of opportunity to pass and sort out positioning. The loop portion is narrow, rolling single track that takes you through some breathtaking sections of Frontenac Provincial Park. While there are some decent hills, it is all very runnable with a little bit of everything on this beautiful backcountry course.

Hot chocolate and munchies will be provided after the event. Awards will be given to overall race winners. A great offering of draw prizes will also be handed out after with one lucky participant going home with a pair of the top of the line Dion Running Snowshoes (all race participants are also eligible for a 10% discount off of their purchase of a pair of Dion Running Snowshoes through Spafford Health and Adventure).

For more information or to register, please visit Spafford Health and Adventure . Course video preview (including race tips), detailed course description and route map are now available for viewing.

See you on race day!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Week of Jan 4 - 10

I'm pretty pleased with the way I'm feeling right now. I've been able to increase my running quite a bit over the last few weeks and everything seems to be improving gradually.

The issue with my knee has been a tracking problem. I've been doing all sorts of quad and glute strengthening exercises, combined with stretching and rolling on a foam roller. I am definitely feeling stronger in my knee, but there has still been a fair amount of tightness that even by rolling I have not been able to get past. I am now convinced that a big part of my problem has been my weak vastus medialis, but just as importantly combined with my tight ITB. This has caused too much pulling on my knee, resulting in the patella femoral syndrome that I've been struggling with for the past three months.

I felt that the foam roller was going to be enough for this, but it wasn't until I tried 'The Stick' that I noticed some HUGE improvements. I've been using the travel stick which is small and quite flexible, so is easy to work the ITB and smaller areas more effectively around my knee. I've been using the stick faithfully for the past 10days with continued great results. It's now part of my warmup and cooldown for every run.
I can't wait to continue increasing my runs and get back to some epic long runs on the trails. I can even now can see the possibility of some really long snowshoe runs this winter with the hopes of a late spring ultra.
Training Summary:
Total # of hours this week: 5:44
Total # of hours this year: 8:02
Total # of runs this week: 7
Streak: 7,320 days in a row

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New shipment of Dion Snowshoes have arrived!

Spafford Health and Adventure has received its latest shipment of Dion snowshoes and currently has excellent inventory for immediate shipping. Place your order today for a running snowshoe package and take advantage of our new sale price.

Also, with the amount of snow we've been getting lately, now is a good time to consider purchasing a pair of deep cleats to add to your Dion Snowshoe system. Deep cleats give you the benefit of better traction in deeper snow conditions and can be switched in a matter of seconds on your snowshoes.

If you have any questions about Dion Snowshoes or snowshoe running in general, please feel free to contact us.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Snowshoe Magazine: New Snowshoe Hotbed

The Eastern Ontario region, for one reason or another, has traditionally not been a hotbed for snowshoe racing. In the past, we have had to travel mostly to the North-East U.S. to find races.

With the increased popularity of snowshoeing and snowshoe racing, this is changing very quickly. This winter we now have our choice of seven different snowshoe races within a three hour drive. This is very exciting for snowshoe racers in our region....

Monday, January 4, 2010

2009 Year in Review

2009 started and finished on a bit of a down note, but in between I was very happy with how the year went with having some great training and a few solid races.

This time last year I was just coming off of being quite sick with Steven's Johnsons Syndrome. Following that illness, I was able to have a great winter of training leading up to Rock and Ice, but then was force to drop out with the flu during day #2 of the race. This was disappointing, but the silver lining was that I was able to enjoy Sara's great race and see her win the women's three day race.

Following the disappointment of Rock and Ice, I rushed back into training and was looking for a race asap to take the sting out of my DNF. I got some decent training in, but looking back on things I probably wasn't ready to tackle Sulphur Springs 100miler so soon. Any time you enter a race due to emotion and you are thinking that it MIGHT be a good idea and go ok, you are probably not in a good place to run well. This was the case at Sulphur. I started off pretty strong and felt good, but had stomach issues very early on a particularly hot day. I ended up pulling the plug at 60km. Strike #2.

I was a little down after Sulphur, but got right back into training and had my sights set on the Finger Lakes 50 miler in New York. I trained hard going into it, but didn't put a lot of pressure on myself, which I think was a good thing. I tried to treat FL50 as more of a training run and less of a race. This was good as the conditions were brutal on the day and I ended up running almost all of the 50miles in very deep mud. I was pleased that I was able to win the race, but was more pleased that I hung on and had a strong finish under my belt.

It didn't really seem to take long to recover after FL50 and I was able to get right back into training. I had a great summer of training including many weeks in the 15-20 hour range, with one week as high as over 24 hours. During this highest week in my buildup to Haliburton I knew I was ready to have a good race as my long runs were feeling awesome and included a 5hr, 4.5hr and 6hr run during a one week period. My average daily run for the period of January 1 - September 1 was 1:48 per day, which showed how consistently high my mileage was.

As I've stated before, my goals for the 2009 Haliburton 100 were to break the old course record of 18:23, hopefully break 18hrs and to repeat in winning. I achieved 2 out of 3 of these goals with a time of 17:52, only to be beaten by Glen Redpath who smoked the course in 17:18. The race went very well and looking back on the day I don't think that there is anything I could have done differently to run quicker. Yes, I had a few stomach issues and bad patches along the way, but it is 100 miles, so it shouldn't be easy after all! I was happy to be able to work through these and pull off probably the race that I am the most proudest of. I had some great help along the way with Sara and Kim Bohn crewing, David Bohn pacing me for the last 30km and also Keith for some great long runs in the buildup and pushing hard during the race.

Speaking of Keith, one of the more memorable runs of the year was our Frontenac Perimeter record run before Haliburton. We had a great run and ran the perimeter in 6:19:49 (5:59 of actual running time). Keith filmed a video of our run that still makes me laugh to watch it.

Two weeks after Haliburton, I felt very well recovered and decided that I wanted to do another 100miler in the fall at Ozark 100 in Missouri to see how my body would respond to it. It's always easy looking back on things now, but I rushed back into hard training way too quickly with a big week. I felt good in my first 4 hour long run back, but then followed it up with a few runs where I felt my knee twinge. I didn't really pay close enough attention to it and it suddenly became a real issue for me. Unfortunately, even with the entry fee paid for and flight booked, I realized I wasn't going to be able to race and that I was going to have to cut WAY back in my training for a bit.

Despite my knee injury, we still had a great week in Banff during Sara's work conference. We certainly didn't do all the runs and the amount of running that we would have liked, but we did the best we could, got some great recommendations for runs and had fun getting caught up with friends. Seeing and being in the Rockies was something both Sara and I have always wanted to do and this was a great opportunity. Banff probably slowed down my recovery from my knee injury, but I wouldn't do anything differently as it was so great being out there.

Returning from Banff meant time to get more serious with rehabbing my knee. I've been seeing Greg Lehman and following his recommendations. The problem has been a tracking issue, so I've been diligent about stretching, strengthening, foam rolling and starting to see some good progress just this past week. Greg is a chiro, is in the process of becoming a physio, and has so many tools, treatments and theories to share. We feel fortunate that he is here in Kingston, but saddened to hear that he and his family will be relocating in Toronto in the spring.

Even though I was struggling with my injury, December 25 was a pretty sweet run and marked a milestone of running with 20 years of running every single day without taking a day off. It's been fun looking back on my streak and some of the runs I've done during this period. I wrote a short article about it and posted it on the La Sportiva Blog.

Aside from running, we had some great vacations and trips with Brennan and Heather that included a canoeing/camping trip in Frontenac Park and our yearly holiday in the Adirondacks. The Adirondacks are such a special place for us and we enjoyed an amazing hike into Avalanche Pass and climbed Mt Catamount. We have decided that this coming summer we won't be vacationing in the Adirondacks, but have already booked a one week trip to Colorado with Brennan and Heather. Can't wait!

Work wise, I couldn't be happier right now. Things are busy and I am doing what I love with Spafford Health and Adventure. I feel fortunate to be working with some great coaching clients and sharing in their adventures, having fun organizing unique races, continuing to do some writing and Dion snowshoe sales have taken off and are doing well in Canada. I am happy that my job is a little different each day and never really know with 100% certainty what it will be from week to week or how it's going to evolve. Always fun.

Even though the year ended in a bit of frustration in my knee injury, it is improving each day and 2010 is looking to be a very exciting year.

I would also like to take the opportunity to say a huge thank you to La Sportiva for supporting Sara and I for another year. We both feel very fortunate to be a part of a great running team while wearing the best trail running shoes and gear on the market.

Here's looking forward to a great 2010. Happy New Year!

2009 Year Ending Running Total:
Total number of hours: 551:59
Total number of runs: 451
Average per day: 1:30:44
Average per week: 10:35:08
Running Streak: 20 years as of Christmas day.

Week of Dec 28 - Jan 3

The softer snow conditions this week have been a huge welcome for my knee. I've been able to get out a little bit longer while doing every run on my snowshoes. There has been a little bit of stiffness and the ocassional soreness, but much less than when I was only able to do 20mins per day. I feel like my knee is getting stronger and as long as it continues to feel the same will keep increasing moderately. So thankful for so much snow and getting in some decent runs again.

A big congrats to EJ who ran a great 5km in Florida this past weekend, setting a new PB of 21:35. This on a cold and windy day and coming off being sick. This was good for 3rd female, 11th overall and top master.

Training Summary:
Total # of hours this week: 4:49
Total # of runs this week: 7
Streak: 7,313 days in a row
Training Log Details

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Book Review: Mountain Running in the Canadian Rockies

Check out my book review of 'Mountain Running in the Canadian Rockies' by Bob Walker in the latest issue of Canadian Running Magazine.

This was a great resource for our recent trip to Banff. I'd highly recommend picking up a copy if you're planning a trip to the Banff/Canmore region.

Friday, January 1, 2010

La Sportiva Mountain Running Blog: Trail Streaking

I wrote a short article about my 20 year running streak that is now posted on the La Sportiva Mountain Running blog.

iRunFar article on upcoming year

iRunFar had another article that Sara and I contributed to about plans for 2010.

It's a fun time of the year looking at future goals and what everyone has lined up.

Click here to read the article.