Leadville has won the bid to host the U.S. National Snowshoe Championships during the competition’s 20th anniversary in 2020. The championships will take place Feb. 28-March 1 on Colorado Mountain College’s campus trails.
Darren Brungardt is a CMC Leadville assistant professor of mathematics, the coach for CMC’s running club and a member of the committee that worked to bring the championships to Leadville.
“With the help of Mike Bordogna, the executive director of the Leadville/Lake County Economic Development Corporation, we formed a committee of tourism panel members and submitted the application,” said Brungardt. “It made sense to make CMC the host since the races could be held on our stellar CMC trails. There is no place like this in the world that will offer such a unique snowshoe racing experience.”
The United States Snowshoe Association, which promotes recreational snowshoeing and serves as the governing body for snowshoe racing in the country, produces the event annually. During the championship’s three days, athletes will compete in a 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon.
Brungardt said there will be from 200 to 350 racers, from middle schoolers to snowshoers in their 80s and 90s, competing from around the country, though they’re not all from snow-country states.
“There are always racers from Texas or Florida,” Brungardt said. “They train by snowshoe running on the beach or in the desert.”
No matter where the participants are from, the LLCEDC’s Bordogna is looking forward to hosting them.
“We are excited to share our backyard with a new group of athletes from around the United States,” he said. “The event combines important elements of our history and our current-day passions in an environment that we are confident will be appreciated by all.”
One of Leadville’s most distinguished features is, of course, its elevation, which will create a “first” in the history of the races. Brungardt said that the 2020 championships will mark the “highest-elevation national snowshoe championships ever.” That distinction will be a contrast to championships hosted in lower-lying areas, such as Woodford, Vermont, in 2018 and Cable, Wisconsin, this year.
“We’re thrilled that Leadville will host the championships,” said Kevin Mastin, co-chair of the Lake County Tourism Panel. “The event happens at a great time of year for us. The snow is reliably good and will show the town well. The increased lodging nights in the middle of winter will be a real benefit to our shops and restaurants as well.”
Visit the Leadville Twin Lakes website for more information about the 2020 snowshoe championships.