Some 1.7 million North Americans go snowshoeing yearly—but only 150 of them are likely to compete in tomorrow's ninth annual National Snowshoe Championships in Oregon, the Wall Street Journal reports. Running on top of the snow can be a slog, but for some, it’s a passion. “You burn more calories on snowshoes than cross-country skis,” said a 79-year-old competitor. “I’m working hard.”
Snowshoes were invented in Central Asia some 6,000 years ago, and their design of wood and webbing have endured through modern times. But racing snowshoes are a different story, and a matter of some controversy: Some speed demons sport pairs as small as 120 square inches. But “at some point, you can't call it a snowshoe anymore,” says the head of the United States Snowshoeing Association.