New Berlin - The first "running" of the Prospect Lions Snowshoe Roar 5K snowshoe race on Saturday had perfect weather and lots of snow.
It was not too hot and not too cold for the 55 racers who came from Wisconsin, Minnesota and northern Illinois to try to be the fastest around the 3.1-mile course through the woods at Malone Park in New Berlin, said event organizer and originator John Ziino.
The one who turned in the fastest time of 25 minutes, 51 seconds was 17-year-old Jake Kifer of Germantown. His roughly performance was more than a minute ahead of the second-place finisher.
Kifer and the other fastest racers who blazed through the trail actually ran in their snowshoes, Ziino said. Their snowshoes - only about 9 inches wide and a couple of feet long - seemed to be more streamlined than regular snowshoes, he noted.
From ages 5 to 76
The Snowshoe Roar was open to all ages - the youngest was 5, the oldest 76.
"It was great having all those people come out and coming from all over," Ziino said.
As it happened, both 76-year-olds took home first-place ribbons, being the only ones in their age category. Roddie Larsen of the Menasha area won the women's division and Dick Kloepfer of Crystal Lake, Ill., won for the men, or man.
The New Berlin first appealed to Raquel Bruening, 21, who had never been on snowshoes until Saturday. The reigning Miss New Berlin clumped around the course with a time of 45:02 for a first-place ribbon. She was pretty much a shoe-in for first, being the only woman in the age 19 to 29 category, Ziino had to acknowledge.
In an echo of the Super Bowl, in which two brother coaches faced each other on opposite sides of the football field, the coaches of all three high school teams in the Roar were brothers. Each of Schreiber brother coaches track. Brother Nate coached the Waterford High School team to victory in the Roar while brother Jeff took his team from Germantown to second place. Brother Bob's team from Genesee took third.
A couple of New Berlin women did well in the 30 to 39 competition. Stephanie Wehrman captured first with a time of 33:44 and Tracey Camier was third with a time of 54:22. In between was Tammy Simonson, the project engineer for transportation for New Berlin, who took second at 51:29.
Getting help for a little fun
The Roar wasn't a fundraiser - it was a "fun raiser," said Ziino, who acknowledged the efforts of those who helped everyone share the fun.
Just before the race, the Northern Lites sporting goods in Medford announced it would pick up the tab for snowshoe rentals. It turned out that quite a few used the rentals, Ziino said.
Many racers remarked about how well the Lions planned the event, from marking the trail clearly to having a timing service from Wausau provide accurate and detailed times.
Ziino paid tribute to the city, which groomed the trail by beforehand and did a final grooming the morning of the event.
He already plans to do it again next winter. While Ziino said he was happy with the first-year turnout of 55 racers, some of them told him to expect three times that many next winter.
- Jane Ford-Stewart
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