One of the
cardinal rules of racing is not to try something in a race that you have not
tried in practice first. I’m sure many of you may have done yourself at some point. My favorite is many years ago one of the CSU
Jrs. who shall remain nameless, at a big Eastern Cup race out at Notchview,
decided to try out a RedBull right before the start of a 10 km classic
race. Yeah, not a good idea. The RedBull and that morning’s oatmeal ended
up out on the course at about 8 km at the top of a nice long uphill, a nice
course marker for the rest of us to avoid.
My mistake was not quite so gross, but consequential nonetheless.
Craftsbury. Lisa and I headed up in time
to squeeze in a bit of skiing and wax testing at dusk. I’d prepared test hard wax skis and klister
skis given the lack of snow and what was there being transformed and quite
sandy in texture. The hard wax skis were
fast and almost worked well and I’d have been tempted to go with them if I was
younger, stronger, more fit, less elderly, had skied more this year and wasn’t
worried about scraping around some of the corners etc, etc. But I’m not those things, so I decided
klister covered was the way to go. (For
wax geeks, old Toko Viola klister mixed with Toko Red klister, covered with
Toko red hard wax.) That decision made, we had a nice dinner at COC, I
klistered up my brand-spanking new, never skied on klister skis, leaving off
the final cover layer until morning and headed over to our usual B&B for a
good night of rest. The only real worry
at this point was whether it might snow over night. I need not have worried. The ground was just as bare the next morning
as when we went to bed. Tom Simon,
Clinton Kreuger, Frank Feist, John Sakolowski, Jim Ellis and Bill Holland had
all rolled in later than us but were up early to cram a few calories in before
the race and have the requisite wax discussion.
Bill had successfully stirred the
pot the day before with emails discussing klister binder, various klister
early enough at COC to grab one of the nice new indoor wax benches, I waxed up
Lisa’s skis and put on Toko Red stick over my klister to try them out and
headed out the door. For the first time
in years I was not half frozen with buffs, muffs, lobster gloves and the
like. It was a balmy 20F and no
wind! Kind of tropical for the
Craftsbury Marathon. My skis worked well
and I was satisfied. I touched up Lisa’s
skis and headed for the start. As a
precaution in case it warmed up and I’d need to rewax, I put red and yellow
stick and a cork in my CSU jacket and hung it on a barrier by the trail. This would turn out to be a wise move……
was smooth and I slotted myself in with the usual crowd, Robert and Peter
Harris just ahead, Chris Osgood off to one side and Tom right behind me through
the first field. Rounding the first
corner who should be untangling himself but Robert, who’d had some
miscommunication with Lary Martell. They
were all tangled up but the rest of us flowed around them and moved on, my one
thought being that yes! Robert was behind me.
It was a bit exciting on the first few downhills with some better at
negotiating fast turns than others.
Chris Osgood shot by on the right as I was stuck behind a slower
skier. And then we settled in for the
long haul. Down the giant slalom turns
in the field and finally to the first long climb up Ruthies. Here we were on natural snow, what was left
of it, with a nice icy base and some glazed powder mixed in. Suddenly I was getting very little kick. This was not good. I worked hard to stay with my cohort as
Robert came back by, recovered from his fall and all smiles. He was moving! Half way up and my arms were getting
thoroughly thrashed, making up for a lack of kick and I skied out of the track. My thoughts turned to rewaxing at the lap. How disappointing! I clearly didn’t get enough klister into the
wax pocket and couldn’t get the wax down enough to stick well. If I stopped I’d lose everyone, but if I
didn’t stop I’d beat myself silly and die a horrible death out on the course somewhere. All because I’d never tried out these skis
before. Stupid!! The only consolation was that my skis were
fast, so I hung in on the downhills. I got
gapped on those tough little hills heading back to the center. Rewax or die.
It was a simple choice. And so,
as I lapped through at the end of lap 1 I pulled over at my coat and slapped on
some Toko yellow stick, corked it quickly and got back on my way. I probably lost a couple minutes, but it was
soooooo much better. I was tired from
thrashing and so tried to settle down and see who I could chase. Its amazing how much more relaxed I was now
that I had better kick and could run up the hills better. It wasn’t perfect, but a big improvement. It didn’t hurt that now the tracks had some
loose snow in them either and were skied in.
Lap 2 went by without incident.
On lap 3 I caught up to Tom Simon on Ruthies after chasing him for a long time. Somewhere on the long Ruthies climb Jimmy
Burnham came storming past. What the
hell? Why was he behind me? Turns out Jimmy also pulled over at the end
of lap 1 and went for the full klister rewax at the Burham Family ski bench,
parked by the course. Well, it seemed to
work pretty well because Jim was on the move.
I was again flagging, but with Tom in sight I was motivated and
somewhere along the way I got by him.
Now in this mix were several people I was chasing and going back and
forth with. Up front was Dan Voison, a
bit too far ahead, and two NWVE guys, Tristan Leggett and Rick Kelley. I’d go by Rick on downhills and he’d come
back by on uphills, clearly with superior kick.
Tristan was bouncing around and stopped several times to rewax I
guess. Back and forth we’d go but
heading into lap 4 they both were fading into the distance ahead. I had to get around this course one more time
and I was hurting. The lack of December
skiing was clearly getting to me. I
broke the course down to uphills which were slowly killing me, and downhills,
which I was enjoying. The last time down
the giant slalom hill was really fun, skiing outside the berm and passing a
lapped skier and down to the flats.
Wait, Rick was pulling over! Yes,
he was rewaxing! Boom. That spurred me on. Last time up Ruthies, shuffling along,
surviving. On one of the last uphills to
the Center and there was Tristan again, rewaxing I guess. But then he just ran by me and was gone. I knew I had to keep it moving because Tom
wasn’t far back. And, finally, the
finish. Phew, that was another tough
Craftsbury Marathon. These things aren’t
getting any easier! My age group had
done well ahead of me with Chris Osgood and Peter Harris having excellent days
and so I was relegated to 3rd.
Frank Feist had an excellent day, sub-3 hrs. to come in first for CSU,
while Hannah Smith, unbeknownst to me, was less than 30 sec. faster than me for
1st CSU woman and 6th overall. John Sakalowski was 2nd CSUer, also having a good
day in a sub-3 effort, while Ari Ofsevit was 3rd CSU in 3:05. Robert Faltus stormed around the course 10
min. ahead of me even with another fall, followed closely by Jimmy Burnham who
couldn’t quite make up for the time rewaxing.
Tom Simon was just behind me, followed by Victor, Clinton, Ann Burnham,
the only other CSU woman going the full distance, Tom Smith, Michael Melnikov
and Jim Ellis, skiing his first full distance Craftsbury and looking darned
good doing so.
In the 25 km
Bob Burnham was first CSUer, followed by Gray Holmes. Jody Newton was first CSU woman in the 25 km followed
by Lisa Doucett, Ken Walker, Larry Berman and Sara Mae Berman.