Did have some butterflies in my stomach before this event. It didn't help when ten minutes after leaving I realized that I had left my skis behind and getting stuck in deep snow when attempting to turn around. With plenty of time, I did not worry too much, though.
The race was exceedingly well organized, from shuttles for skiers and gear in both directions to aid stations, road closures directions and parking.
|Pre-race picture courtesy of Liz and Peggy|
Getting out of ABR, the terrain became much more gentle. However, there was more exposure and consequently more snow, making the going tougher even without the hills. I fell into a routine of making my way up to a slower skier or group and then waiting for a flat stretch to pass double-poling in the classic lane. I took a swig of water at every aid station, barely slowing and didn't miss not having brought my own water. A brisk northerly breeze started to blow and every time I turned into the wind, my hood started crackling with frozen sweat. At one point I passed a guy carrying one of his pole. "Broken pole?" I yelled in passing, the reply was "Wrecked my shoulder." The snow on parts of his ski outfit attested to a spill, possibly at the tricky Peltonen Pass Out.
|Hot pursuit. I am in fourth position. (Photo: Linda Slining)|
|Keeping at the heels of 1644, who passed me earlier and whom I eventually|
passed again (Photo: Linda Slining. Thank you for sharing, Linda!)
The soft snow made itself noticed on a long straight line out in the open. It just seemed to take for ever. Fortunately, it was possible to see many skiers ahead which was motivating, and, at this time skiing by myself, I was able to work my way up to the back of the next group.
All of a sudden the end was within reach. At 18km I spotted the first buildings in the outskirts of Ironwood. Within the city limits, with 2km to go, the trail descended into a deep valley, I understood very well that we would have to climb back out before the finish. It was a pretty steep climb, fortunately I did not hit the wall at this wall. I accelerated when passing the tall Indian in fiberglass and--was done.
I was very happy with my result, 19th of 69 starters in the men's freestyle 21k, 5th out of 19 in my age group. Also, I am always amazed with the low impact nature of this sport. A foot race at only half this distance takes a much bigger toll on me.