The Snowflake Derby: Never too cold for competition

Jake Tapley

On Jan. 14, the 34th annual USI Snowflake Derby took place. Despite the mind-numbingly cold conditions of the derby, 150 or so passionate runners still showed up to compete in this fundraising event.

Proceeds go to benefit the university’s cross country and track teams, serving as half of the major funding for these organizations. The other half stems, for the most part, from a similar event held in the summer called Night Flight.

The derby consists of both a 4k and an 8k race. The 4k makes use of the new Burdette Park-USI Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Nature Trail; whereas, the 8k course serves more as an off-road obstacle course for serious runners to take to.

According to Coach Mike Hillyard, event coordinator, the 4k race was new this year. In years past, it had been part of the derby but had since been taken away due to traffic and licensing reasons.

“It was the new Burdette path that made the return of the 4k race possible,” Hillyard said. “Because it provided a solution to the traffic issue we were facing.”

The competition is what draws runners to the event. The 8k course is a physcial challenge for more hardcore runners and is the main event of the derby. The 4k race gives the event some variety.

Freshman Will Hogston, second-place finisher in the 4k race, knew why he attended the event.

“I was definitely in it for the competition,” he said. “If the derby was recreational, I wouldn’t do it.”

Passionate about the sport and the rivalry that competing with fellow runners provides, Hogston said running was indirectly part of his fitness routine. But the draw of it is still in the adrenaline rush it creates for him.

Hillyard said he recognizes personal challenge as a very important aspect of the derby, specifically on the 8k course.

With obstacles such as hay bales and log jumps, more than stamina is needed to participate in this race – a more impressive level of fitness and skill becomes the key to success.