This weekend saw the 5th edition of the Trail des Neiges, a true celebration of winter sports organized by the hardened professionals of adventure racing, Endurance Aventure, Orford, QC, Canada.
Trail des Neiges is definitely not your run of the mill winter race. You choose not only your distance, one or all three summits in the Mount-Orford ski area, but also the race discipline: ski, run or snowshoe! 220 winter sports enthusiasts (aka winter sports nuts) took up position at the start line as day time skiers were leaving the hill and the lifts had long-stopped running. The weekend’s racing had near-perfect conditions: -2 C, no wind except for on the summit of Mont-Orford and great visibility afforded tremendous views of the valley floor.
As last year, the fastest times were recorded by the skiers, with George Visser and Lyne Bessete claiming the mountain victories and course records; Eric Turgeon and Sarah Bergeron-Larouche, the reigning snowshoe world champion, claimed the fastest times on foot for the 3 summit 13 km extravaganza. Pascal Labreque and Bernice Payeur-Poitras were the fastest on foot for the 5 km steep sprint up Mont Giroux North Face.
As Spring approaches it is time to bid this particularly cold winter goodbye. So what better way than with a competition amongst local trail running clubs to contest the XACT trophy des Traileurs des Neiges? A trophy hewn from local granite is awarded to the Trail Club that scores the most points in the running and snowshoe categories combined and brings together athletes from trail and running clubs from all over the province. Last year the locals, Le Coureur Trail Club (Sherbrooke/Magog) won the inaugural edition of the trophy in challenging conditions : high winds, low temperatures, and a raging blizzard!
Le Coureur Trail Club were this year’s runner’s up with a very strong performance in the shorter but very fast 1 summit race, but this did not compensate for the strong showing of Montreal Trail Club in the 13 km 3-summit race which offered more points for the competition. Montreal Trail Club (trailmontreal.com) is the youngest trail running club in the province but enjoys a passionate membership who are ready to travel to race together!
Race Director and organizer, Daniel Poirier said in an interview “What is really extraordinary is there were more than a dozen children under 13 years old who raced one summit”. The atmosphere during and after the race was very festive, ages of competitors ranged form 8 to 70! Daniel Poirier, an experienced and competitive SkiMo racer himself competed in the event with Eloise, his 10 year old daughter.
The trophy was awarded using a points system roughly based on the cross-country scoring system. A maximum of 15 points awarded to the 1st place male and female of the 3 summit course, 14 to the 2nd place and so on up until the 15th place finisher who was awarded 1 point. A maximum of 5 points were awarded to the club of the 1st place male and female finishers for the 1 summit course.
Club Standings for the 2nd Edition of the XACT Traileurs des Neiges Trophy:
Montreal Trail Club 67; Le Coureur Trail Club 34; le Coureur Nordique Trail Club 15; Bromont Trail Club 14.
Olympic athlete, race organiser (100b7.com) and XACT ambassador Lyne Bessette chose the Trail de Neiges to launch a new initiative, SkiMoEast.com a website that brings together the SkiMo (Ski Mountaineering) communities in eastern Canada and the eastern US. Her partners for the project are the cyclist Tim Johnson and local SkiMo pioneer, Jeff Rivest.
XACT provided FRUIT2 bars at the feed stations during the race and has been a partner of Endurance Aventure since 2012. XACT looks forward to fuelling your next race organized by Endurance Aventure.