Snowshoe Run returns in February

·4 min read

Westman residents are invited to strap on their snowshoes this February in support of a local organization.

The Manitoba Snowshoe Run, which is a fundraiser for the Dauphin Rotary Club, is taking place in-person and online from Feb. 1 to 28.

It’s a fun event that keeps people active during one of the coldest months of the year, said race director Bryan Byers.

“If you can make it to the event, that would be great. But if not, no big deal — the virtual component is fantastic,” Byers said. “Stay motivated. Stay moving in February, and I hope everybody signs up.”

The fundraiser is an annual snowshoe run/stroll that will be held virtually throughout February and in person on Feb. 21, Louis Riel Day.

The Snowshoe Run was started by a group of Rotary members who launched the Manitoba Mudrun. The group was looking to bring a second race to the area, Byers said, while promoting active living during winter.

While the Mudrun was a huge draw, the Snowshoe Run initially started very small, typically seeing around 30 or 40 people each season since it began in 2015.

All funds raised during the Snowshoe Run are put toward the Rotary Active Living Fund and distributed by the club toward activities that promote active living in Parkland, such as the trail network.

This year, provincial public health measures permitting, the race will have an in-person event on Feb. 21. The official route will begin at the North Gate trails in Dauphin.

“[Louis Riel Day] is a day off for most people in Manitoba. It seems to work out quite well. As a Rotary Club, the goal in Dauphin is to basically have an event each month, some sort of fundraising event,” Byers said. “It’s getting close to the end of winter and everybody is just kind of lazy, and this will hopefully motivate you to keep moving.”

The Snowshoe Run typically takes about an hour to complete and includes a five- or 10-kilometre route.

There will also be a virtual component to the race, which started in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adding the online option opened the door to people from across the country to participate, Byers said. Last year the race saw someone from Kenora, Ont., who signed up, ran their own unique route and raised money for the Active Living Fund.

Three years ago, the initiative saw 50 people register — the event’s biggest cohort at the time. Last year, thanks to the virtual option, the event drew 167 participants.

Organizers hope participants take photos and share them if they do the virtual run.

During the race at the Northgate Trail, participants can expect to climb in and out of the valley a few times along a groomed path, double track and single track.

“That’s the nice thing about snowshoeing — it is essentially just walking outside,” Byers said.

“If you have your own route, you can pick your own skill level.”

The route featured for the in-person race day is not super technical to traverse, but includes some ups and downs along with a special tire wall participants can choose to scale. The tires have been placed on a steep hill.

“If you really want to challenge yourself, try and climb the tire wall with snowshoes on. It’s quite exhilarating,” Byers said. “It’s interesting. Everybody is worried about doing it at first, but I watched a 70-plus-year-old man do it with old-style snowshoes. It was quite impressive.”

The Dauphin Recreation facility rents out snowshoes for about $5 a day for those looking to race in the Snowshoe Run. Byers added the snowshoes available for rent were funded by events like the Snowshoe Run and Mudrun.

This year, the first 175 people to sign up for the race will get an official Manitoba Snowshoe Run toque with a North Gate tag.

Register for the Manitoba Snowshoe Run at racermnp.ca. It is $30 per participant and the race is open to anyone over the age of 10 years old.

» ckemp@brandonsun.com

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Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun

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