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Saranac snowshoer at World Championships in Austria

SARANAC On Feb. 25, at the Empire State Games Snow Shoe 5k, Matt Medeiros won the Rich Eggleston Award, a grant to help cover his expenses to compete at the World Snow Shoe Championships in Austria. After the race Matt made the comment, This is where the training really begins. He was true to his word. All through the month of March, Matt trained his body to prepare it for the demanding 11k snowshoe race in early April. Every Sunday he put in a long run with his snow shoes. These long runs lasted about 90 minutes and were done on the old D&H railroad bed off Chazy Lake Road in Saranac. On other days he ran in his running shoes, but always did strides afterwards with his snowshoes on. On Thursday afternoon March 29, Matt and Mark Elmore of Peru, the president of the United States Snowshoe Racing Association, flew out of Burlington. At JFK they picked up a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, and finally their last flight brought them to Salzburg, Austria. A 45-minute drive brought them to the town of Schladming where they lodged with the other snowshoers from the United States. On Saturday the U.S. team headed to the Dachstein Glacier to view the course they would be racing the next day. At the base of the glacier they took a 10 minute cable car ride to reach the course. They enjoyed watching a ski mountaineering competition in process when they arrived. That is, what little of it they could actually see. The winds were whipping at 50k per hour and the glacier was covered in a cloud, allowing about three feet of visibility. I really hope it is not going to be like this tomorrow, Matt commented to his companions. Matts hopes were partially realized. On Sunday afternoon, April 1, the winds on top of the glacier were only blowing at 30k per hour. Best of all, at race time it was clear and sunny. At 1 pm. Austrian time, The Atlas Roof Stone Extreme World Snowshoe Championships were underway. Matt, quickly discovered that the course was grueling. The altitude of the course ranged from 8,500 ft. to nearly 10,000 ft. As Matt raced up into the higher elevations a cloud consumed the glacier, quickly blotting out almost all visibility. Matt found it especially treacherous racing downhill with such little visibility. He fought against the fear factor and forced himself to push hard on the downhills despite the risks. The race lived up to its name of being extreme, he said. Matts hard training at home in Saranac and his determination during the race paid off. He finished 5th. The Italian men captured the first three positions, followed by a competitor from Canada. The whole trip was a highlight, especially being able to finish so high. I was surprised that I was able to finish that high, especially since I was the youngest competitor by 5 years, Matt commented. Matt is 21, and distance runners usually reach their peak abilities between their late twenties and early thirties. I'd like to thank Mark Elmore and everybody else who helped make this trip possible. Without them I wouldn't have been able to have this once in a lifetime experience, Matt concluded.

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