Road...Mountain...XC...Nude...Ultra...Snowshoe...What's Next?

- - Don Drewniak, Cool Running

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The start of the WMAC Southpond Shuffle
Photo: Richard Bolt

Results | Additional Photos

Savoy, MA - Over the past fifteen years or so, Dave Dunham has won 400 races - give or take a few. That's close to thirty per year. With respect to "conventional" road races, Dunham's wins range from those in "garden variety" runs such as the CMS 52-Week 5K Series races to major national events such as the Rocket City Marathon.

His most notable efforts have come in mountain races. Dunham is a two-time winner of the "Race to the Clouds" - Mount Washington. A multi-time member of the USATF Mountain Running Team and 2000 USATF Mountain Runner of the Year, he also won the Oberstaufen 6K held in Germany this past fall.

The Bradford, Massachusetts resident has also competed extensively in cross country. One of his more unique cross country triumphs happened this past August when he won the Take Pride in Your Hide Cross Country 5K held in North Carolina. The race, it seems, was a clothing optional one. Not to be put at a disadvantage by having to run with the extra weight of shorts and a singlet, Dunham bared all from start to finish.

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Dave Dunham enroute to victory
Photo: Richard Bolt

Prior to this past year, he had never raced beyond the marathon distance and his longest training run had been thirty miles. Last September 24th, Dunham ran a 2:29:11 at the Clarence Demar Marathon in New Hampshire, good for first-place and an eight-minute margin of victory. Six days later, it was a 2:43:21 first-place finish - and nine-minute margin of victory - in the New Hampshire Marathon.

It turns out that these were both training runs - training runs in preparation for the Chancellor Challenge 100K scheduled for October 8th in Boston. Despite his reputation, the experts of the Ultra world gave him little or no chance of winning. How could someone who hadn't raced beyond 26.2 miles or even completed a single ultra training run expect to compete against some of the world's best over 62 miles? Running 10K splits at a planned pace of about 40-minutes (40:23 / 39:32 / 39:42 / 39:29 / 39:56 / 40:10 / 40:35 / 41:08 / 42:31 / 43:16), Dunham went on to finish in 6:49:39, over seven-minutes ahead of second-place Farit Ganiev of Russia.

One option not open to Dunham is track. He has a screw holding bones together in his ankle and, as a result, the risk of an injury which would end his running days is too great. Track being excluded, was there still unchartered territory to explore? Given that it is winter and there is snow the ground in many places in New England, a snowshoe race offered an opportunity.

On Saturday, January 13th, he traveled out to the western part of the Bay State for a Western Massachusetts Athletic Club 4M snow shoe race, the Southpond Shuffle. The result? A first-place finish. Thus, road...mountain...xc...nude... ultra...snowshoe. What's next? Maybe an ultra nude snowshoe race. Hey, if planned, Dunham would be the odds-on favorite.