By MIKE ECKERT
TRAVERSE CITY — The third time was the charm for Traverse City's Jeb Stone.
After finishing second the previous two races, Stone won Saturday's Bigfoot Showshoe 10K at Timber Ridge Resort.
"I was always the bridesmaid," Stone said. "I got the monkey off my back."
Stone finished in 40 minutes, 32.6 seconds. A pack of three runners came through as the lead group after the first 5K loop, but Stone finished well ahead of runner-up Derek Henning from Alanson.
"I never looked back, but I could hear a couple of guys back there," Stone said. "On the second lap it was kind of down to dirt going through the woods. But I gave it hell."
Saturday's race was a family affair for Stone.
"My son Isaac did the 5K," Stone said. "He's 9 years old and this was his first run on snowshoes. My wife did the 10K also. It's a really cool atmosphere and always a good time."
In the women's 10K, Linden's Erin O'Mara won for the third-straight time. The 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials participant finished in 47:57.6. Rachel Flores from Ann Arbor took second in 53:44.1.
"I was more alone this year," O'Mara said. "I didn't have as many people around me. And the lack of snow created some obstacles having to dodge roots and branches."
While O'Mara typically only does the Bigfoot race each winter, she's happy with the new pair of snowshoes she ran in Saturday and is looking to find a couple more races before spring.
O'Mara's younger sister, Kaitlin, nearly won her own title in the 5K race. She finished in 28:44.3 while Grand Rapids' Nancy Agrillo won in 28:41.6.
"I didn't see her until the end," Agrillo said. "And I probably would have ignored it if I didn't hear all of the people cheering and saying it was a race."
Kaitlin O'Mara made a charge at the end after losing her snowshoes four times on the course. She actually finished with a better chip time than Agrillo, but because the event is a foot race, the overall winner is decided by the gun time, or the first to cross the finish.
"I had some problems with my shoe falling off, so I couldn't go too fast," O'Mara said. "I had never raced in snowshoes before. I ran last Wednesday, but that was the only time. I ran a mile easy on just a dust of snow. Erin said this is a lot harder than you think."
Despite the equipment problems, she said she'd look at doing it again.
"I'll do it if Erin comes up again" O'Mara said. "I've got to do it with my older sister."
In the men's 5K race, Traverse City's Kevin Deyo repeated as champ. The 54-year-old win in 21:40.8, which he said was a lot faster than last year.
"It was very packed down," Deyo said. "In the woods there were some bare spots and some branches in the way. But it was a very fast course."
The 5K and 10K started at the same time, so Deyo wasn't sure if he was leading or trailing Stone and the front-runners.
"The guys that were in the 10K, I wasn't sure if they were doing the 5K or the 10K," Deyo said. "I tried to keep them in sight. I passed a few guys in the last half-mile or so, but I wasn't sure I was the winner until I got up to the stretch here. They had gone the other way (on the 10K loop)."
Deyo is hoping to run in snowshoe races the next two weekends.