A Powder Keg Giving Off Sparks

David Smuhl, photos by Nick Meyer |

With January comes the doldrums of winter. The temperature plummets, the days are short, and even the idea of getting out of bed seems like the most arduous task imaginable. But for some, the depths of winter marks the coming of a unique winter sport, snowshoe racing. And on Saturday, January 28 the second annual Chippewa Valley Powder Keg snowshoe race comes back to Eau Claire. This year’s snowshoe race, sponsored by CORBA, will feature a 5-mile race and 2-mile run/walk as well as an hour-long snow bike race through winter wonderland of Lowes Creek County Park. Race director Jereme Rauckman says the race is a unique event for the area, “There are no other snowshoe races in the Eau Claire area, but snowshoeing is really growing as a sport nationwide,” the event “brings people from outside the area and introduces them to the great outdoor community here in Eau Claire.” This year’s Powder Keg will also include Eau Claire’s first ever snow bike race. According to Rauckman the addition of a snow bike race was a natural move for CORBA, “We’re a mountain bike club, after all, and snow biking is getting more popular throughout the country.” There will also be a less competitive, “kids and mascots,” snowshoe sprint which will pit local mascots against each other for a quarter-mile dash. The event is open for everyone from the ultra-competitive to those just looking for a good excuse to get outside and have some fun. Snowshoes will be available for use day of the event and spectators are encouraged to show up, have some s’mores by the fire, and cheer on their favorite racer.