Boylston and Mannsville, N.Y. - The Winona Forest Recreation Association kicks off its season of winter events Jan. 28 with the Stone Wall Snowshoe Walk and Race through ths sprawling 9,000-acre state forest in northern Oswego and southern Jefferson counties.
"Winona Forest is known for its deep snowfalls and winter wonderland appearance, and the Winona Stone Wall has evolved into one of the Northeast's premier snowshoe events," said Matt Westerlund, president of Winona Forest Recreation Association. "Shoers can choose from a 5K citizens distance, where they can race, run, or walk with friends, or the 15K championship course."
Westerlund urges those who choose the longer distance to be well-trained, and in excellent snowshoe race condition. "This 15K course is very challenging, and depending on conditions that day, could feel like running an ultra," he added.
Both distances offer a variety of conditions over mixed groomed trail, single track packed, and virgin snow single track courses. Winona contains more than 30 miles of multi-use cross country ski, snowshoe, hiking, and biking trails, and almost 40 miles of separate snowmobile and ATV trails. The trails are groomed and maintained by volunteer members of the Winona Forest Recreation Association.
"The Stone Wall Classic is one of many events that celebrate the diverse uses and beauty of the Winona Forest trails," said Janet Clerkin, Oswego County Tourism Coordinator. "Organizers are also working on the Tug Hill Challenge sled dog races Feb. 4 and 5, the 37th annual Winona Forest Tourathon Feb. 11, the SnoFatShu Winter Duathlon Feb. 18, IditaFAT Bike Race March 4, and the Deer Fly Run which takes place in the summer."
The race venue is located six miles east of I-81 Exit 39. Follow County Rte. 90 east through the village of Mannsville, crossing Rte. 11, and continue east for approximately six miles. The CCC camp buildings and parking are on the left at the intersection of Bargy Road. Visitors are advised to not rely on a navigation device to guide them to the race venue because some roads in the area are seasonal roads and are not plowed during winter months.
A detailed description of the race course and registration information is posted at www.runreg.com/the-stone-wall-5k-snowshoe. All pre-registrants will receive a commemorative 2017 Stone Wall souvenir.
Snowshoe loaners can be reserved by e-mailing race director at email@example.com.
"Winter conditions are unpredictable," said Westerlund. "You may encounter deep snow, bitterly cold temperatures, blizzard-like conditions, logs to jump, limbs to duck, wet conditions, water holes, downed trees, steep up and down hills, snowmobilers, skiers, and wild animals. It could be a bright, blue, clear winter day, or it could be something much different. Prepare for anything. Regardless of weather, come to enjoy the day with fellow ‘shoers, in a beautiful forest. "
The Stone Wall Snowshoe Walk and Run is sponsored by 11 North Bar and Grill, Pulaski, and Dion Snowshoes.
For visitor information and more Oswego County winter events, go to www.visitoswegocounty.com.
The Winona Forest Stone Wall Snowshoe Race takes place Saturday, Jan. 28, at Winona Forest Recreation Area in northern Oswego and southern Jefferson counties. Pictured is Richard Shumway of Lacona running in last year's race. For information visit www.winonaforest.com. (Photo courtesy of Matt Westerlund.)