PULASKI, NY – Luke Tighe, an eleventh grader at Pulaski Academy and Central School, placed first in all three snowshoe racing events he entered for the 2022 winter WFRA racing season.
Going head-to-head with older, more experienced athletes, Tighe led the way and put in an impressively consistent performance on the snow-covered trails of Winona Forest. Competing in the Norway 5k, an event taking place for the first time on a brand new trail this season, the Stonewall 5k/10k and the SnoFat Shu Duathlon, Tighe managed to maintain a fitness level in several contests that led to success .
Tighe is very active year-round, running cross country in the fall for the Pulaski Blue Devils, swimming on a medley team in the winter, and competing on the Pulaski track team in the spring. During the snowshoe racing season, she swims every day after school, but she also manages to run almost every day.
“I’m doing a lot of speed work now with track practice, so I’m probably in better shape now than I was in the winter,” Tighe said.
Tighe said her nutritional approach to fitness is pretty simple, she doesn’t go to the extreme of vegetarianism, but she tries to avoid processed foods as much as possible.
As summer winds down, the first cold fronts cross the North Country, the lake-effect machine kicks into gear, and Tighe’s thoughts turn to the upcoming snowshoeing season and soon-to-be-covered trails. at Winona Forest. He said he is really looking forward to the WFRA sponsored events that will give him the opportunity to run during a time of year when foot races are rarely available.
“The Winona Forest is a nice area…nice and hilly,” Tighe said. “In the end, it’s nice to know that I’m doing well in the races, but it’s really just about enjoying the outdoors.”
Winona Forest Recreation Association President Matt Westerlund has watched Tighe race and compete against him for several years, and has high praise for the young athlete. Westerlund said that Tighe has a lot of potential and could use his talents in many different ways, and that he is looking forward to following a young person with such a good physical foundation to develop as a competitor.
“He is the reason we do what we do,” Westerlund said. “It’s exciting to see young people today snowshoeing through the snow… this is tough, but kids like Luke keep coming up.”
Westerlund said he hopes to see more young people follow Tighe’s example, noting that the natural resources available in the areas, such as the Winona Forest Trails, are “incredible.”
“Luke exemplifies the vision of our organization… I hope that in the coming years we will see many more like him, local children involved in outdoor competitions,” said Westerlund.
Although the winter racing season is over for 2022, the WFRA is planning several warm-season events to allow enthusiasts to continue enjoying the massive trail system. Westerlund said the trails are becoming more accessible in the spring, summer and fall.
June 18th will see the first Bikes, Brews and Burgers Poker Run. Anyone with a bike can attend, and participants collect poker chips at checkpoints as they explore the forest. No poker experience is necessary, and a barbecue for all will follow the ride. Registration and information can be found here.
The annual Deerfly Trail race is scheduled for August, along with the highly anticipated inaugural 24-hour event, where individual runners and teams will run as much or as little as they choose over 24 hours, completing as many laps as they can. There are only a handful of 24-hour events similar to this one.
Additional information on spring and summer events can be found at www.winonaforest.com, or on the WFRA Facebook page.