Running in snow motion

Dozens hit the trail for Boreal challenge
By: Penne Usher Journal Staff Writer
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BOREAL ” Snowshoe enthusiasts made tracks Sunday during the Auburn Ski Club's Snowshoe Challenge at Boreal Ski Resort. About 32 either competed or leisurely participated in the event now in its third year. Peter Fain, 36, of Truckee, was favored to come in with the fastest time for the 10k course. Last year he came in just under 54 minutes. Sunday he placed first with a time of 55:02. There was an extra section of single track and that slows you down, Fain said after finishing the race. Once a Nordic mode of pedestrian transportation, snowshoeing is an ever-increasing form of exercise. We are seeing an increased interest in the races, said John Stauffer, event coordinator. It's still a sport that's needing to be discovered. He said many Californians have yet to discover the sport, which is basically jogging or running while donning a pair of high-tech snowshoes. You can run year round in California, so there's little need to snowshoe for exercise, Stauffer said. Julie Atkinson, of Auburn, came up to the race with a few of her friends. She's new to snowshoeing and said she had no idea the challenge was a race. We'll still have a blast, she said. Atkinson classifies herself as a cross-country skier rather than the snowshoeing type. I got into snowshoeing because I love the snow and the fresh air, she said. During Sunday's event, some competed in a 5k run, some in the 10k and others simply enjoyed the sunny skies and 35-degree weather. Brian Purcell and his 12-year-old daughter, Rita Purcell, of Sebastopol, joined the race as Purcell's other children snowboarded nearby. We're staying at a friend's cabin for the weekend, Brian Purcell said. My kids snowboard so I run. I can get in three good hours of running. Purcell set a 16-hour 24-minute record in the Western State 100 run in 1988, he said. He came in Sunday in 11th place with a time of 1 hour 16 minutes for the 10k run. Rita Purcell placed sixth in the 5k with a time of just over 51 minutes. Jim Meskimen, 64, of Truckee placed first in the 5k with a time of 46 minutes, 47 seconds. The Journal's Penne Usher can be reached at or post a comment on