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Snowshoe Ultra Advice: Cold Weather Hydration, Fuel, Layers and Footwear

Peak Races is more than a race series, Peak is a community of athletes determined to test, transform and improve themselves every day.  We reached out to you for training tips and have been overwhelmed by the response.  This is the first in a series of posts that will help you prepare for the Peak Snowshoe, whatever distance you choose.


Our first training recommendations come from Michelle Roy, an rock star in the Peak Races lore!

Snowshoe Race Advice – 100 mile race

First off I think I have some good ideas based on the fact I have 4 prior tries at the 100 under my belt with the most being 84 miles.   The year I went 84 miles I was the only person out overnight while the rest of the racers hunkered down in the horse barn.  The reason I was able to continue in the frigid cold was because I brought BIG PUFF.  Big Puff is my husband Bob’s gigantic parka he used when climbing Denali.  It is soooo big on me it goes beyond my looks like I am running (snowshoeing that is) in a sleeping bag.   So make sure you have the biggest warmest coat on hand if you need it.

Michelle in her coat “Big Puffy”

Snowshoe Footwear

My second bit of advice is do not wear sneakers.  The year I wore sneakers with my Dion snowshoes I had a blister after one loop the size of an apple on my heel. I went 72 miles that year and the pain was excruciating.  Wear comfortable hiking boots lightweight ones that cover your heel (go high) do not wear leather hiking boots they get too heavy when wet.  I have Asolos that are AWESOME.


Cold Weather Hydration

My third bit of advice is to not eat yellow snow (just kidding). It is actually to be aware that your water pack or water bottle will probably freeze.  It did for me one year in the middle of the first 6 mile loop!! There were coconut waters on hand in cardboard boxes so I dropped my pack and ran the rest of the race with a coconut water down the front of my tights.  I am not was the only way to keep any liquid warm enough…you could also put a water bottle in the top of your sports bra between your boobs or if you are a guy just in the waistband of your tights.  It actually was not uncomfortable at all and I had enough to drink grabbing one bottle a loop.


Cold Weather Layering

Fourth NO COTTON ANYTHING.  Seriously.  Many people start off going fast and feeling great but we all know as you add on the miles you will get tired…your body no matter how hard you are working will get cold as you probably will slow down your pace.  This is not so much for the 6 milers and maybe not for the fastest marathoners, but for those of you mid to back packers you want to be smart.  Where a waterproof/windproof (light) outer layer that you can easily pull up to your neck like a scarf or over your head like a cool swami hat for those ups when you feel like you are sweating buckets….when you find yourself going down and or are on the side of the mountain with no sun you can easily pull that jacket down when you start to get chilly


Snowshoe Ultra Fuel and Nutrition

Fifth I firmly believe in eating real food and not gels or goo or horrific bars filled with stuff you can’t pronounce.  I like to buy 2 egg mcmuffins sandwiches…with bacon on them no cheese. They are so awesome even when cold.  In between I have something a bit sweeter like pb&j or I personally do like cookie dough Balance bars as they are the only bars that do not cause me to fart up a storm.  I try to eat for my size (5’4” 116) 150-250 calories a loop after I finish the marathon distance.  For a marathon distance I eat far less…maybe one or two cookie dough bars and or pretzels (I am partial to them).  For a 6 miler I would eat nothing while doing it unless I was walking the entire thing.  I would bring something yummy for a stop and a picture on top of Joe’s Mountain.

And last but not least bring a stone with you.  Write the name of someone you love and miss or someone who needs some extra love and prayers sent their way…place the stone at a spot that tickles your fancy and add a little magic to the mountain : )


Submitted by Michelle Roy