Sunday, February 2, 2014

Craftsbury Marathon

This year's edition of the Craftsbury Marathon found us once again doing loops at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center instead of a point to point course.  That said, Craftsbury once again put together a great loop that included woods, fields, ups and downs and was in excellent shape, especially given the low snow and corn stubble sticking up.  This year's course was a bit different in that instead of climbing up Ruthie's Run to the far point we went up through the fields of Sam's run.
The night before as many of the CSU clan gathered at the Village House Inn, where Kate takes good care of us before the race year after year, the talk turned to weather reports.  It was 28F and we all wondered if it would actually get as cold as forecast.  I was already waxed for the colder forecast, so it would be a rough morning if things changed.  However, upon waking way too early it was evident that temps had dropped overnight and wax would work.  Given the abrasive snow with an underlayment of ice, I opted for a thin layer of Rex Blue Klister, one of the most tenacious elements of the universe, with Toko Red and Toko Blue over.  I was very satisfied with my skis.  Many opted for straight hard wax binder and hard wax.  Would it last?

Given my rather nasty cold that I came down with the previous weekend, I opted to change from 50k to 25k, a smart move indeed.  I never would have made it 50k.   As we gathered on the starting line, there was no wind, it was about 20F, the sun was out, it was a beautiful day for a ski race!  As we headed off at the bell's ring it wasn't long before I rued the fact I'd moved back a bit at the start.  Some of these guys were not so hot on the downhills, or were overeager.  In Murphy's field someone tumbled causing some other minor pile ups.  Things started to settle down as I watched my CSU Brethren slowly pulling away....Frank and Andy, Bob Burnham and a few others like Jim Fredricks that I like to try and race with.  This would be a day of lowered expectations and conserving energy and snot-rockets.  I continued to struggle with lousy downhill skiers for a bit but shed most of them on the giant slalom downhill at last. 

Now the first longish uphill on Sam's.  I cranked up in the track, so much so that in my less than ideal state I had to pull over.  I was gassed!  Bill Holland's tale of a few years ago came to mind, the little white crosses of bonks past along the side of the trail.  I couldn't let that happen!  I let a few people by and got back in the tracks and slowly cranked it up again.  If I was going to survive even 25k I was going to have to dial it down, ski smart, use my good double pole and fast skis.  I was now going back and forth with some old masters, and I mean old, and masterful, skiers, Perry Bland and Peter Davis.  They were the calm amongst the younger and not so smooth skiers out there.  They steadied my ship and slow I got going again, focused on skiing smoothly.  On the long Ruthies downhill I recovered and started pressing again.  It doesn't hurt to have good skis either!  On the climb back to the center I kept it under control and started passing some kids who weren't as enthusiastic as they'd been 5km ago.  Looping through we now started passing the touring groups and high school kids, sometimes yelling 50yd away that I was on your right or left.  Early warning system.  Down the giant slalom I deftly passed a guy on the inside of the turn.  This was fun! The second time up Ruthies I did not blow a gasket, dropped Peter and Perry and started chasing others, mostly 50k skiers, but what the heck.  I passed a few and finished reasonably strongly, happy with my performance in far less than ideal health conditions.   I now grabbed the camera and caught many CSUers as they lapped through for 25k or 50k.

Lots of CSUers had good races on this beautiful morning.  John Sakalowski was cranking along, his classic skiing now really coming together just like last week at Jackson.  Robert Faltus was pretty happy with his race.  Kate Yoder had an unfortunate reaction to some GU and lost it a few Ks later, but soldiered through.  Andy was having a good ski, locked in combat with Joe Holland.   Lisa was happy with her 25k and was followed in my a smiling Jody Newton.  Jim Burnham had a solid race.  I missed Victor, but he was out there as always.  I'm sure we'll get a few more stories!
Anne Burnham smiling at 25k

Richard Garrison

Lisa Doucett

Jim Burnham

Jody Newton

John Sakalowski

Frank Feist

Andy Milne chasing Joe Holland

Robert Faltus

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