Its a lousy Columbus Day and I'm tired (and failing at) cleaning the house and I came across Rob Bradlee's write-up from the 1996 Craftsbury Marathon, so figured I'd put it on here. This is back when the race was 2 loops starting and finishing on the Common. It was WICKED cold that day.....winter is coming, time to get psyched!!! Notice.....time has moved on, we are older but some things never change.....
Saturday afternoon I was in the wax room prepping my skis when Jamie Doucett called to say the race would be delayed an hour because of the cold. This would mean a little extra "sleep" (meaning bad dreams about being ill prepared).
I put on Star Blue Ultra-tech on tips and tails of my two Fischer classic skis. Then I put Start binder, ironed it in, and ragged it off with a heat gun and fiberlene. This left a tacky film of binder. Then I put on a layer of Toko Green, ironed it, and corked it smooth. Then I added another layer of Green and corked that. I was ready to go.
I was up at 4:40 AM and met Jamie and Andy Milne at the commuter lot at 5:30. We made it without incident to Craftsbury by 8:30 (I get special FAA one-day low flying aircraft pilot's license for the trip). When we arrived it was -22F (-30C), dead calm, and mostly sunny. We registered, suited up, and went out to test skis. Jamie had Swix Polar on one ski - we both tried it and it actually seemed a bit slippery. The Toko Green seemed to work pretty well skiing around the tracks. I also tried Bob Haydock's skis which had the Swix XF (the $30 stuff). His skis seemed faster, but he claimed mine were faster. Hmmmmmm. I added a couple more thin layers of the Toko Green to the skis I'd selected to race on.
We gathered on the green and John Brodhead rang the bell and we were off. Usually I do pretty well at these mass starts, but I was slow off the line and just couldn't get moving. There were about a dozen real hot dogs doing the 25K as a tune-up for the Nationals the next week and they were all charging for the front since position is more important in the shorter race. The first few Ks of the race has a lot of long gradual downhills and my weak double poling and the draginess of my skis kept me back from the front pack which kept pulling farther and farther away from me. I think my skis are a little soft for a nice hard track like we had and I know my double poling is weak (make a note: get serious about weights and roller-board next summer and fall!!). The temperature was reputed to be about -15F and I could feel my face freezing. I had capilene underwear and two lycra racing suits. I recommend this arrangement fro extreme cold races. I was reasonably warm the whole race without getting too sweaty. I had my double Ultimate water bottle carrier with hot water and gatorade. I hoped it would stay warm enough to drink for a little while. Hah! At 8K I tried to drink but they were already hard as a stone and just about as heavy. I wanted to dump them with a friend, but I never saw anyone along the route to throw them to. Well, that was one heavy experiment. I had Gu in the fanny pack and two in my pocket (yes, I have an old suit with a pocket!!).
The Gu has potential, but it was very tough to get it open and eat it during the race. Partly that was because any gradual downhill needed double poling to keep moving because of the slow snow. I drank at every feed stop (9 in 50K) and felt like I got adequate food and water. In managed to eat two Gu's but that was all I ate.
At the start of the second loop former race winner Tim Crane caught up to me. I was in 7th and he was in 8th. I pulled him along for the next 15K during which we caught and passed Raul Siren (see your L.L. Bean catalog - he's the guy out front in the Swix race suit in the race photo). The snow was faster the second lap as the temperature rose (to a steamy 0F) and the track was more skied in. We still had incredible kick though and ran easily up the herringbone uphill by the ski center as Tim shouted "Real men don't herringbone!" I finally wised up and let Tim lead. He was faster on the downhills (better technique and stronger double poling - I don't think his skis were any faster). But I could catch up and hang with him on the uphills. Finally at 45K we spotted my long-time rival Bob Haydock up ahead. He was bent over while climbing the uphill which told me that he was suffering. After 2K of downs Tim had pulled way ahead of me before we started the 3K final climb. I was beginning to get a bit dizzy, and my arms and legs were aching, but I still was able to ski pretty well. I passed Bob and chased after Tim and the now just visible Cory Brinkema. I gained back, but I was (thankfully) out of uphills and we were at the end. I stumbled into the gym and headed for the shower.
After the race I compared notes with Joe Holland. He had Swix Special Green all the way up to the tip of his skis (from the heel). He felt that it worked okay (and he certainly skied well). My three friends that I gave Toko Green to were very happy with their skis. My wax job was certainly durable as I still had lots on my skis at the finish.
All in all I was reasonably happy except for my lack of double pole strength. I only got a tiny bit of frostbite although many of my friends had a moderate amount on their faces. I was especially pleased by how quickly I recovered after the race. However, I found shoveling the two feet of snow the next day to be a bit of a grind!!
Here are some of the results:
1 Chris Nice 2:56:44
2 Tom Longstreth 2:56:57
3 Joe Holland 3:03:45
4 Tim Crane 3:09:00
5 Cory Brinkema 3:09:54
6 Rob Bradlee 3:10:27
7 Bob Haydock 3:11:01
10 Jim Stock 3:21:00
11 Jamie Doucett 3:23:45
13 Ben Haydock 3:30:23
15 Bob Burnham 3:31:44
17 Wes Denering 3:36:12
19 Bob Hamel 3:47:25
20 Cam Kerry 3:48:24