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Freshman wins world snowshoe title

Snowshoe running is what it sounds like — a long-distance running sport where participants race across snowy terrain with large board-like soles attached to their feet. Snowshoe running is twice as hard as road running, according to the World Snowshoe Federation.

ORU freshman and cross country athlete Andrew Tyson placed first in the U.S. Junior Snowshoe National Championships in 2019. On Sunday, Feb. 16, he competed in the World Snowshoe Championships and became the 2020 Men’s Junior World Snowshoe Champion.

Tyson, a Wisconsin native, started snowshoe running in seventh grade while looking for ways to cross-train for running. A friend from church recommended the sport to his parents. Soon after, he found himself at his first competition in Boulder Lake, CO.

In ninth grade, he participated in National’s for the first time and placed fifth.

He wore nothing to protect his face during this race because he had been to the track the day before and the weather was clear.

“It was a lot harder race; we ran on top of a mountain,” Tyson said. “It was also really windy that day too, so there was lots of blowing ice and sleet.”

The next year he found out that the World Championships would be held in the U.S. for the first time.

“Going into that race, I felt like I was the favorite to win,” Tyson explained.

He had researched the times of other participants and found that his pace was faster. But three-quarters of the way into the race, Tyson got a huge side ache in his IT band and hip flexor area, causing him to drop from first to 11th place.

In March 2019, Tyson competed in National’s for the second time.

“Going into the race, I learned my mistake from the first World’s. I did not want to go in thinking, ‘Oh, I’m the favorite. I should just get my trophy right now,’” Tyson commented.

The course map did not show elevation, so going in Tyson thought there would be minimal uphill and downhill movements. However, once he got to the part of the course out-of-view from the start and finish line, he found a 100-foot hill with a 45-degree slope that he would have to run up and down three or four times.

Yet, Tyson ended up winning. He collected a gold medal and trophy and is now a part of the U.S. national team.

Since moving to Tulsa, Tyson has not been around much snow, but he trains by competing on the track and cross country teams.

Tyson is majoring in translation and interpreting and hopes to earn a doctorate by the age of 25. For him, traveling to Japan for the World Snowshoe Championships is an excellent start to world traveling.

“I have not run on snow for over a month, but I’m feeling as ready as I could be,” Tyson said before competing.

This competition marked the last time Tyson would run the 5K in the junior category of the World’s, and he walked out a world champion.