Snowshoe Shuffle spells winter fun

Nature cooperated, PAL benefitted

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  • And the shufflers are off!

  • And more shufflers are off!

  • And here come the walkers

  • The winners raise a shoe

By Laurie Gordon

— The Super Snowshoe Shuffle on Superbowl weekend was a great event, creating a winter wonderland of wellness to benefit Sparta PAL. With no snow earlier in the week, there were thoughts of changing it to a foot race, but Mother Nature delivered the white stuff and the snowshoe was a go.

“The fire pit was lit, with marshmallow surprises, hot chocolate and coffee from Greene’s Beans, ice tea and water provisions from Culligan. Sparta Stop and Shop helped with bananas and oranges,” said race director Andy Ball. “Sparta Bagel Station had the cream cheese, butter and bagel, and the Sparta PAL at 38 Station Rd provided great Indoor accommodations exhibiting and sharing their indoor rental interests.”

Each participant had a nice goodie bag with a branded snowshoe winter hat. For their $85 entry fee, each participant also received and got to keep a $125 pair of Whitewood Snow Shoes. for keeps with their $85 entry. For those that had their own shoes, they paid $30 to support the Sparta PAL. Music was provided by Main Street Events NJ for indoor and outdoor enjoyment.

Sandy Pender, of Fredon, participated, and this was her first go-round at snow shoeing.

“This was a great race,” she said. “ It was very different from other races I have done. We did not have a lot of snow but the snowshoes were able to grip what little was on the ground. Initially, it was challenging to run in snowshoes as it requires a wider stance, but you get used to it and you get into a rhythm. The weather was beautiful, the course was well marked and it was a great way to burn off some calories prior to Superbowl Sunday. Hope to do it again next year with more snow.

“The course was mostly flat and fast for walkers and runners alike,” Ball said. “A Couple slight hills and well laid crunchy snow laiden trails and grass made for a euphoric experience.”

Sparta Ambulance was present and provided volunteers with their new off-road safety four wheeler tied with a plastic mini boat to help lay out the safety cones and directional devices. Sparta Police provided the necessary closure and safety for the participants organized by Lt. Proctor. Dykstra Engineering provided the technical course map while Sparta Township was in support as well of the Sparta PAL.

The event was about shuffling through the snow, fellowship and coming together for a fun event smack in the middle of the winter. It wasn't about times or places.

“It was a great experience and my first time snowshoeing,” said Lydia Hansen, of Fredon. “ I was very happy to receive my own snowshoes through the race. My favorite part was racing up to a beautiful view of the Sparta Mountains and then the fun downhill finish. I love trying out new distances and experiences for races and this was definitely a bucket list race.”

“As we look to next year, we hope that High Point State Park’s cross country facility will be available as an alternate if no snow,” Ball said.

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