Name: Michael Decker
Home Base: Traverse City, MI
Occupation: Semi part-time writer of non-paying publications, running shoe store grub, President of Sideburns Anonymous- a secret support group for recovering bad sideburn growers and their families.
Years on Atlas Racing: 4
Stumbling, bruising, wretched cursing, ice chunks slithering down the spine, over-torque of knees, a lower back turning into hell, wet frozen blistered toes, strange pangs creeping up and down shins and ankles, quad muscles torn and pounded into raw hamburger patties, and a giant hard packed snowball to the back of my head from my friend Rob - this was my first experience running in snowshoes.
Somehow, after the shock and purple discoloration on my calf muscles wore off, I thought it'd be cool to enter a competition involving snowshoes, 15-degree temps and cagey race veterans sporting ski goggles and Balaclavas. A third time in snowshoes brought victory, outright surprise and the cruel knowledge that I had a knack for succeeding at extremely difficult winter sports.
Winning or doing well in competitive races is always attractive to the individual seeking fulfillment in that sort of arena - such as myself. That is what caused me to realize that snowshoe racing could not just be a side venture for a runner seeking to spice up running resume but a full blown season - something to train towards, run work outs for and peak during an end-all championship event. Snowshoe racing opened up a new avenue for me to release my competitive drive. The excitement was like being a freshman in high school lining up for my very first cross-country race - albeit this time around I was wearing shaped chunks of metal on my feet.
But the best thing about this whole new running genre opening up before me occurs alone in the dead of winter on my favorite hilly snowshoe trails at night with a head lamp and my breath for company. Hours spent in solitude without cars, slippery roads and other human beings while being submerged in the silent snow shrouded woods; a high winter meditation that truly takes me to a secret spot in my brain that connects my body to my soul, bringing - to me - a sense of oneness during the harshness of Alberta Clippers and Lake Effect snow squalls.
Create and direct a weekly snowshoe race series locally. Finish top 10 at Nationals. Make the hardest, most ridiculously difficult snowshoe course and open it up to the public.