Quebec athlete set to compete at world snowshoe championships in Japan
In just over a month, the World Snowshoe Championships will take place in Myoko City, Japan. Amongst the competitors will be reigning Canadian national champion, Julien Pinsonneault. The Quebec athlete placed 12th in the competition last year and is looking for another strong finish against a stacked field and a challenging and mountainous course.
“I’m really excited to be doing this race,” says Pinsonneault. “It promises to be quite an ascension challenge and I can't wait to compete with the best in this discipline. The Japanese will be the unknown power team to watch for sure.”
Pinsonneault has been running from a young age when he used to pace himself while running alongside the family car travelling back from the babysitter. He currently competes in road and track events but discovered the perfect winter cross-training sport while hiking with his family near his hometown of Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec.
“That was when I was young, but then in the middle of high school, I tried snowshoeing with my running club for fun,” he explains. “I got a taste for it, then I participated in the 2013 snowshoe racing championship and I have never stopped.”
Pinsonneault won his first national championship in 2017, was second in 2019 and won the title again in 2020. But beyond the podiums, the young athlete likes where snowshoeing can take him as a runner.
“I find that snowshoeing allows you to discover magical winter landscapes and to change the monotony of the track and the road,” he says. “All of this allows you to chart your own path and to outdo yourself time after time on the same course which always changes according to mother nature.”
Snowshoes for running have evolved greatly. Equipment is lighter, smaller, more flexible so that it offers a legitimate cross-training option for runners. Pinsonneault is hoping to promote the sport and inspire others to take it up in the future.
“I want to show that snowshoeing is a beautiful facet of running and a whole other discipline that requires a lot of mental strength,” he says. “I believe that my passion comes from the fact that I always wish to push my limits and discover the unknown.”
Une toute nouvelle année s'amorce avec un nouveau commanditaire à mes pieds pour affronter les magnifiques sentiers de neige. Un gros merci à Northern Lites pour leur soutien.Posted by Julien Pinsonneault on Friday, January 3, 2020
Pinsonneault is currently running around 120km per week and about 50 to 60 per cent of it is snowshoeing in addition to his work on climbing technique, to prepare for the hills of Japan, as well as in the gym, weight training.
When the season finishes up, he’ll gear up for his road and track racing. Last year, he was made the Guinness World Records for the fastest half marathon while pushing his friend Charles Olivier in a wheelchair
“It was all a very enriching personal experience. Allowing someone to have an athletic experience that they could not do on their own is more than motivating,” he says. “t took several preparations to get there and doing it for a young man from my city that I had during my years in day camp was incredible. Charles-Olivier is a wonderful and very inspiring partner. I loved giving him my legs and my heart for this challenge.”
One of the major driving forces in the life of Pinsonneault is late great Quebec runner and four-time winner of the Boston Marathon Gerard Cote.
“This man is a huge inspiration to me. He has shown that efforts end up being rewarding,” says Pinsonneault. “He is from my hometown and I try to do my best to follow the small path that he has left us — time on the athletic level then time on the community level.”
The Quebec athlete recently started his own snowshoe racing series to bring new life to this forgotten sport and to honour the life of Cote. The project will raise funds to allow for a high school in the region to promote winter sports.
Pinsonneault is still attending university in Sherbrooke, Quebec in the faculty of rehabilitation and hopes to work in the sporting industry in the musculoskeletal field.
Although he says he doesn’t really have a favourite place to run other than in his hometown, he does offer up what he considers the top five places for snowshoeing in Quebec.
· Parc Les Salines, St-Hyacinthe
· Mont Ste-Anne
· Mont Orford
· Mont St-Hilaire
· Mont Bellevue, Sherbrooke
“I sincerely hope to be able to one day get there and make sure that people let themselves be tempted to try this sport instead of going to run on the badly ploughed streets,” he says.