Wednesday, March 30, 2022

When is a 30k Race Not a 30K Race? When You Screw Up Big!

Post by Eric

Happier times during my 2020 Sonot - virtual edition. I wore the tie
this year, but different shorts and pig ears instead of the hat. (Photo by Tom Helmers.)

“Eric Troyer has totally baffled us again!”

Bad Bob Baker uttered that line over the Birch Hill public address system partway through my 2022 Sonot Kkaazoot. And when I say “my 2022 Sonot” I really mean it. I did my own thing. Not that I had planned it that way. When I toed the line for the race, I fully intended to do the 30-kilometer version, the one I had signed up for. 

I’ve done the 50k version several times in the past, but I wasn’t up for it this year. I hadn’t gotten enough training in. I especially hadn’t done enough skate skiing. (A common complaint during this cold winter in Fairbanks.) 

And I certainly hadn’t tapered. The weekend before the race Corrine and I, along with friend Jill Homer, did a 3-night, 4-day, 100-mile trip in the White Mountains National Recreation Area. Corrine and I traveled on bike, while Jill walked. We had no other support, so we carried everything on our bikes. I didn’t weigh my bike, but when I lifted it a couple of times to turn it around, I could tell it was HEAVY! That wasn’t the smartest thing to do the week before a 30k ski race, especially since I hadn’t been training much. 

Me "tapering" before the Sonot Kkaazoot. (Photo by Corrine)

But when I lined up for the Sonot, I felt I could do the 30k without too much pain. And the conditions were great. The skate skiing was fast! I felt I could stay ahead of the rest of the SCUM. 

I consider myself a member of Susan’s Class of Untrainable Men, even though I show up for the weekly sessions only a couple of times a winter. But the gang is friendly and inviting, and if I can’t be a part of a misfit group like that, who else would take me? At 62, I’m one of the younger SCUM and am usually the first across the finish line at our local races. I felt I could keep up my streak. Only two members of the SCUM had signed up for the 50k, Byron Broda and Susan Sugai (aka Mother SCUM). Of the rest, most were doing the 30k, while a few were doing the 10k. That’s because the SCUM have gotten older while the Sonot has gotten harder. (Due to climate change, the first and last 10k of the race, which used to be on the flat Chena River, are now all up at hilly Birch Hill. Ufda!)

In 2020, the Sonot (virtual because of COVID) had to be moved
from the Chena River due to the melting ice.

Sonot Race Director Bad Bob, with the help of NSCF President (and SCUM) Chris Puchner, counted down to the start and the race was on! The course took us up the South Tower trail right away, a long climb that helped spread out the racers. 

At the top of Tower, I found myself behind fellow SCUM Greg Kahoe. When we started the Tower descent, Greg swung a little wide, so I snuck by on the inside. I heard him yell in protest, but I was pretty sure I would be faster on the downhill. I was, but I should have stayed behind Greg. Apparently, he knew where he was going. 

As I came out of Roller Coaster Bypass, there were a couple of people in front of me. They went around the corner into White Bear, so I did, too. I mean, that’s where all the races go. Naturally I would go down there! 

Of course, if I had done my homework (i.e. study the course map ahead of time) I would have seen that the course split right there. The 10k course went around the corner and down the White Bear. The 30k and 50k courses went straight across the Stadium. I’m such a screwup! 

Oblivious, I powered on, passing a few people, wondering how far Greg was behind me. I was having a grand old time. At the White Bear Beacon Cutoff the 10k racers followed their course, peeling off and heading back toward the Stadium. I headed straight on the White Bear. Signs and paint on the snow told me the 30k course went straight ahead. I knew I was on the right track. The signs were off, but I figured they were for lap two or something like that.

Earlier, I noticed that I could see no one behind me. I was a bit surprised, but I’ve been in that situation in races before. At the back of one pack and a ways ahead of another. It seemed a little odd that I couldn’t see anyone, but not unheard of. 

Toward the farthest distant point of the White Bear, where the trail flattens out for a bit and turns back toward the Stadium. I knew something was wrong. I saw only one set of skate ski tracks in the corduroy snow in front of me. The thought flashed briefly across my mind: “I’m in second place?” But briefly, as in nanoseconds. The thought was ridiculous. The saner thought quickly followed. I had missed a turn somewhere.

I kept skiing. What else could I do? I saw one other skier with a bib ahead of me, so I chased him. I stopped at the one feed station on the White Bear and asked if I was supposed to have gone down the Sonot Connector. They said no. I skied on and finally caught the other skier, who was taking a snack break. We talked and agreed we had screwed up somewhere. We decided to keep skiing the course and confer with Bad Bob when we got back to the Stadium. 

And that’s where we learned that we had missed the 2k cutoff. Bob suggested that we do the all the Black Loops to make up the distance, but I just said we’d ski the rest of the course and consider that 10-12k we did as bonus k’s. The other skier, a good sport, agreed. Bad Bob was acting as announcer and had his mic with him, so the whole conversation was sent out over the public address system. If you’re going to screw up, you might as well screw up big! Bad Bob joked that we could be in our own special division. The other skier and I skied off cheering at the idea. Then I heard Bad Bob single me out: “Eric Troyer, who has done this race many times, has somehow….” 

I couldn’t hear the rest because I was skiing down into the Black Loops. The other guy and I skied on, him mostly outpacing me. As I entered the Outhouse Loop, I saw SCUM member Joanna Fox exiting the same loop. I was pretty sure we still had to do the whole Sunnyside Loop, so I knew I was quite a ways behind. I said hi to Joanna and decided a good goal would be to catch her. She was skiing classic, so maybe it was possible. 

Things went dandy until I got to the Sunnyside/Cliffside intersection. The course flagging guided me down Cliffside, but I was pretty sure I was supposed to finish out the Sunnyside Loop. How else had Joanna gotten to where she had been? The course workers must have changed the course markings already. Should I go up Sunnyside anyway? But if the course flagging was getting changed before I got to it, where else would I get screwed up? And my screwup brother-in-arms had gone down Cliffside. What the hell. I headed down Cliffside. 

I caught up to him once again near the top of the Sonot Connector. As we were conferring, another 30k racer caught up to us. 

“Did we go the wrong way?” she asked.

We laughed and confirmed her suspicion. We figured we would just finish out the course and see where we were at. While we talked, some of the leading 50k racers passed us. We cheered them on and hoped that they weren’t overly worried about us appearing to be ahead. But they seemed to be in their own zone. 

We took off and the other two soon left me behind. Unfortunately, that left me with only myself to talk to. While finishing out the rest of the White Bear (for the second time), I decided I was feeling pretty good. That’s when I came up with the idea that I needed to pay penance for my screw up. I decided I would ski 50 kilometers as my punishment. Stupid and ridiculous, yes, but I was feeling pretty good, and I had my GPS watch. I figured I would try to recreate what I missed, so that I could do as much of the course as possible. In any case, I would get in 50k. 

As I skied toward what should have been my finish line, I buzzed on past in the lap lane yelling out, “As penance for my mistake, I’m going to do the whole 50K!” 

Donovan Granger heard me and cheered. I was stoked and skiing fast. As I left the Stadium, I saw the confused faces of several SCUM members who had already finished their 30k races. That’s when I heard Bad Bob’s voice over the public address system: “Eric Troyer has totally baffled us again!”

I grinned. What the heck! If you’re going to screw up, you might as well screw up big! I was feeling good. 

Feeling good at the end of my 2021 Sonot (also virtual because of COVID), which was all up
at Birch Hill. But back then Bad Bob had shortened the courses to make up for the
added elevation as compared to the courses that included the Chena River.

Then I hit 40k. I wasn’t feeling so good. I had gotten to the far end of Sunnyside and was making my way back up. It’s a long climb out of Sunnyside. The sun was warming the snow, making the trail soft. I stopped to eat and drink. I tried to avoid the dreaded herring-bone but had to resort to it a couple of times. I used the V-2 alternate, also known as the granny skate (and dubbed by John Estle as the “wimp skate”). I didn’t care. Anything to get me up the hills. 

Meanwhile, exhausted as I was, I had to do math in my head. My GPS watch was set for miles. I had to ski 50 kilometers. Uh, so 10k is 6.2 miles, right? So, 5 times 10k is 50k. Then 5 times 6.2 is…uh…uh…uh. OK, break it down. Hmm, 5 times 6 is 30. And 5 times 0.2 is 1.2? No, no, it’s 1.0. So, 30 plus 1 is 31. I had to ski 31 miles. My watch is set to buzz every 5 miles. It buzzed 25 miles a little while ago, so I knew I just had to wait for that last buzz then I would have only a mile left! 

As I climbed to the top of Tower I kept waiting for my darn watch to buzz. I kept waiting and waiting. I knew I must be close. At the top, I had to look. Not even 28 miles! Ugh. 

I skied down Tower, then looped in Medevac, and dove down White Bear to the Biathlon Range. I should have stayed there in the flats and done loops until I was close enough, but I wanted to do the official finish, which included the Warm Up Loop. I turned around at the Biathlon Range and headed back up, guessing that the Warm Up Loop would be enough to finish it off. 

Strava tells me I had some PRs. I don't believe it. 

As I finished the White Bear, a 50k racer passed me. She said something about digging deep. I think I grunted out a “Yeah.” I came out into the Stadium and headed for the Warm Up Loop. Some people saw me and cheered. I waved my poles, so ready to be done. 

As I skied into the 1.5k Warm Up, I looked at my watch and realized the loop wouldn’t be enough. Double ugh! Disheartened, I stopped and had a snack at the bottom of the first hill. Seriously?! I had less than 1.5k to go and I stopped for a snack? But that’s where my brain was at. 

To get more k’s I got to the very bottom of the Warm Up and turned at the Dark Alley Cutoff to ski half of the Warm Up again. Just before starting up the last climb, I thought I needed to document this debacle. I stopped and took a selfie. I realized the people at the finish must be scratching their heads wondering where I had gone, but I’d get there eventually. And I was certain that despite all my screwups, I was ahead of Mother SCUM Susan, who, despite having a few years on me, has skied every Sonot ever put on. But I always finish well ahead of her in the Distance Series races. So, I wasn’t holding anyone up. The timers would have to wait for her. 

Selfie at less than a k from the end. That's a smile. 

As I crested the last Warm Up hill, SCUM Dermot Cole stood at the top and cheered me on. Then he said “Everyone was wondering where you had gone. They were worried about you.”

I told him I figured as much. I saw the finish line and dug deep. I wanted to at least look halfway decent going across the line. People cheered. I slumped, exhausted. 

Then I looked up. Susan was standing there, smiling at me.

“You beat me?!” I asked, incredulous. 

“I just did the 30K,” she said. “I didn’t have it in me to do the 50.”

That’s when Bad Bob asked me if I had seen anyone out else on the course. I hadn’t. Just the "dig deep" skier who had passed me earlier.

“I think you’re the last skier.”

It figures. So, I kept the timers and everyone else waiting while I had snacks and took a selfie. What a bonehead! And I finished dead last. Last SCUM. Last in the 30k. Last in the whole race. Oh, and I looked at my watch: 30.83 miles. Not even a full 50K.

If you’re going to screw up, you might as well screw up big!

P.S. I skied around the Stadium until my watch said 31 miles. I just had to. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Our Biking Birthday Bash in the Whites: Sun, Wind, Cold, and Good Times

Post by Corrine

Finally, the top! 

After a long grunt of a bike ride – which included too much pushing – I was happy to have summited Cache Mountain Divide. 

But I stopped only long enough to take a couple of pictures. The brisk headwind and chilly temperatures didn’t make the pass an inviting place to stay. And the sun, which had been gloriously out the day before, was now hidden by the clouds. Ah well. 

The divide marked the halfway point of Eric and my recent bikepacking trip into the White Mountains National Recreation Area recently. It also marked the highest point of our hardest day. I was glad to be there, but I needed to keep moving. 

I quickly headed down the other side before I got too cold. But as I rode down the other side of the divide, the temperature dropped, and the headwind got stronger. That caused a lively inner dialog: 

“I should stop and put on another layer.” 

“But I’ll get colder doing that. Better to just keep riding.” 

“Once I get to the Ice Lakes it should be more protected and it should be warmer.” 

“It’s not, now I’m even colder and the headwind seems to be stronger.” 

“Just keep riding, you will warm up eventually.”

“I should stop and layer up or at least stop and take a photo.” 

“I'll get colder if I stop and, besides, my fingers are freezing. I don’t want to take them out of the pogies. I need to keep moving.”

“Your fingers aren’t freezing; they are just cold. You’ll be at the cabin soon enough. Quit being a wimp!”

I never did take any photos or put on more layers, but the trail finally entered the trees and changed directions. The headwind became a tailwind, and I started warming up. By that time, I was only a couple of miles away from Windy Gap cabin. I was warm and cruising through the woods on a good trail in a beautiful area. It wasn’t all type 2 fun! 

Windy Gap cabin - a welcome sight with wood on the deck

As I was approaching Windy Gap cabin, Eric was coming down the divide. He’s slower on the uphills and faster on the downs, so while we often ride apart, we are usually fairly close together. For us, part of enjoying a bikepacking trip together is allowing each person to ride their own pace.  

Birthdays on Bikes in the Whites

This was our second annual birthday adventure in the White Mountains. Eric and I have birthdays 10 days apart in March and adventuring in the Whites is a great way to celebrate. Last year Eric and I decided to do a 4-day, 3-night trip in the Whites between our birthdays. We had such a good time that we decided to do it again this year but with a different itinerary. 

From last year's birthday adventure in the White's

We opted for the 100-mile route used in the White Mountains 100 multi-sport endurance race. Except, we did it in 4 days instead of one. We’ve both done the race several times. Me on skis and bike. Eric on skis, bike, foot, and kicksled. So, we know the route well. But it was a nice change to tour it instead of race. 

This year we also invited our friend, Jill Homer. She had just finished biking to McGrath in the Iditarod Trail Invitational 350-mile multisport race. Her husband Beat (pronounced bay-ott) was doing the ITI to Nome on foot and was still on the trail. 

It didn’t take Jill long to decide that a trip in the Whites was better than sitting at home compulsively rechecking the tracker to see how Beat was doing and doom scrolling on social media in between. We had assumed Jill would bike with us, but we gave her the option to travel however she wanted. She decided that walking and dragging a sled would be a meditative way to spend a few days before reuniting with Beat. (Jill has walked the ITI to McGrath and she and Beat have done many multi-night “sled-dragging” trips in the Whites.) 

Jill in her happy place on the trail

Jill agreed to come when she calculated she had just enough time to do the 4-day trip with us before meeting Beat at the finish. As long as he wasn’t too fast! (Spoiler alert – Jill’s early morning flight got canceled. Beat finished as she was on the later flight!)

Beat Jegerlehner at the finish of his 6th successful ITI to Nome, March 22, 2022

But back to the trip. The weather looked to be quite good, although we knew better than to trust the forecast, so we packed accordingly with all our cold weather gear. That ended up being a good decision. The first day was sunny and warm with barely a breeze. But the next 2 days were colder with brisk 10-15 mph winds and the last night the temperature bottomed out at -30F. This trip reinforced my opinion that I would rather have -20F and calm conditions over +5F with winds.

Day 1: Sun Brings Shirtsleeve Temps

Day 1 we biked the 26 miles to Crowberry Cabin. Jill left about 2 hours before us since dragging a sled is quite a bit slower than biking. This became our pattern. Jill would leave a couple of hours earlier than us; we would pass her on the trail and then she would finish a couple of hours after us. We teased her that she walked so that she could arrive at a warm cabin with snow melted, firewood collected, and no cabin chores left to do. 

Catching up to Jill on the trail

The trail was a little soft to Crowberry but still good for biking. We saw several people out on the trails; mushers, snowmachiners, and skiers. When we got to the cabin, it was still warm from the previous occupants. The thermometer on the deck in bright sunshine read 65F. We set about doing cabin chores in just our long john shirts – no jackets needed. Besides normal camp chores, we also spent some time cleaning up the outhouse. Snow had drifted inside so I shoveled that out, and then Eric knocked down the growing poopsicle, which can be a hazard of winter outhouses. 

A dog team passes us

Crowberry Cabin sits in a beautiful  location

Cleaning the drifted snow out of the outhouse

By the time we were ready to sit down and make dinner, Jill showed up. After dinner we were entertained with a beautiful sunset over the mountains before the clouds moved in.

Day 2: Clouds, Wind, and a Grunt Over the Divide

Heading down towards Beaver Creek before the long climb up to the divide

Day 2 was our biggest day. 34 miles up over the Cache Mountain Divide. The day started mostly cloudy and got cloudier, keeping the temps cooler. It was our only day without bluebird skies. The trail was at first soft though bikeable, but it got softer the further up the divide we went. Eventually, we had to do a bit of pushing. 

Eric often takes longer on the uphills. He pushes more to rest his back and butt. After the first few miles we rode separately the rest of the day. I entertained waiting for him on top of the divide but not with that cold wind. 

Although we didn't ride together, we took the same photo at the top of Cache Divide

When I was just a couple of miles away from Windy Gap Cabin, I ran into an acquaintance, Becky, and her family. They had mushed and snowmachined in and were camped at the limestone outcroppings around Windy Gap. That was a fun chance meeting! 

I biked on to the cabin and Eric arrived about a half-hour later. He immediately went out to gather wood. Just when he got back, Becky and her daughter showed up at the cabin with a sled full of wood just in case we needed it. How nice! (They had brought a chainsaw on their trip.) We were happy to have it. With the temps hovering around 0F and a stiff wind, it was hard to keep the cabin warm. We finally had to close the shutters over the windows to help keep the heat in, but we still used a lot of firewood. 

Becky and her daughter Ellie bring us firewood!

Relaxing in the cabin.  Notice the shuttered windows to help keep the heat in

Day 3: Wind at Our Backs and the Sun Comes Back

Day 3 we were back to beautiful blue skies, but in the morning the wind was still blowing. Lucky for us it was mostly at our backs. We really felt it on the new reroute just south of Windy Gap Cabin. The reroute avoids several crossings of Fossil Creek (and potential overflow), but it climbs steeply into an exposed area. I love it, though. Yes, it’s a hike-a-bike up the hill, but the views are spectacular. And it’s better than endless overflow on the creek. Thanks, BLM for doing that.

Eric cresting the hill on the new reroute

This day was shorter due to less mileage and less elevation gain. We made good time to Borealis-LeFevre cabin, our home for the night. By the time we got there the wind had died down and the temperature had risen to 20F. We had most of the afternoon to relax, get more firewood, and just enjoy the day. 

Lots of windblown trail on day 3

Borealis-LeFevre cabin sits above Beaver Creek

Eric gathers firewood by pulling down dead trees

About 4 PM, I walked back down the trail looking for Jill and found her. I’ve always wanted to know what it was like to drag a sled, so she graciously let me drag her sled the last half mile including up the steep side trail to the cabin. It wasn’t too bad, but I would need to work on my core muscles to do that for miles on end! 

I get a chance to try sled dragging

Borealis-LeFevre Cabin sits on a hill just above Beaver Creek, which is notoriously cold. The temperature plummeted once the sun disappeared. We took bets on how cold it might be our last morning. I chose the coldest at 22F below zero, but even I was wrong. It was -30F when we got up. Brrr! But at least there was no wind and clear skies promised sunshine.

Early morning moon set

Brrr!  Luckily the sun warmed things up

Day 4: Chilly Start, Fast Trail, and More Sun

Jill took off before the sun warmed the area, but Eric and I waited a couple of hours until the temperature climbed to a balmy -15F before setting out. It was cold on Beaver Creek, but the long climb on the other side quickly caused us to shed layers. Although our legs were tired, we enjoyed our last day. The trail had firmed up overnight, so we were able to ride a little faster. And it was another beautiful sunny day. Less than 4 hours later we were back at our car, ready to head home after another fun few days in the White Mountains.

Eric warms up as he climbs out of Beaver Creek

Taking a break at the top of the Wickersham Wall

Now I’m already starting to think about next year. Should we spend a couple of nights at Windy Gap so we can snowshoe up to the limestone arch?  Should we do the big loop in the other direction?  Whatever we choose, it will certainly be a fun adventure and a great way to celebrate another year around the sun together!

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Chena River To Ridge 2022

Post by Corrine

I really needed to eat. Really. 

I was 16 miles and three and a half hours into the Chena River to Ridge 26-miler and had eaten only a couple of Fig Newtons. I needed some more calories. I stopped at the race checkpoint and drank half my water bottle then got out a GU. My stomach didn’t feel great, but I figured I could down a GU. But as soon as the GU hit my tongue, I had a gag reflex. Oh, oh! 

I quickly spit out the GU into a plastic bag and tried to calm the reflex. Too late! All the water that I had just drank came back up. The volunteers were helping other racers who had stopped. I don’t think anyone noticed me throwing up. At least, I hope they didn’t. No one said anything. 

All that food and I couldn't eat any of it

As soon I was done getting sick, I got ready to go. No point in spending more time at the checkpoint since I couldn’t eat or drink. I still had 10 miles to go but it was mostly downhill so I knew I could finish. But I would be a lot slower with no calories for fuel. Oh well, just another day on the Chena River to Ridge.

The Chena River to Ridge race, put on by Endurance North, has two distances: 26 and 55 miles. It starts at Twin Bears Camp near the Chena River in the Chena River State Recreation Area. The first loop follows the Colorado Creek and Compeau trails. After 8 miles of relative flat, it climbs high up a ridge. After following the ridge for several miles, it goes mostly downhill back to the start. The 55-mile racers do a second loop out the Stiles Creek Trail, with an even steeper ascent and descent, before following the Winter Trail back at the start.

View from up on the ridge

This race is multi-sport. Racers can choose to bike, ski, or run. I have done both the shorter and longer distances by ski and bike for a total of five times. Eric has done the race six times. He has skied and biked both distances and has even kick-sledded the shorter distance twice. This year he wanted to run the 26-mile, since it was the only discipline he hadn’t yet done, but he injured his calf in January. He was getting better but was getting in more skiing than running as he nursed it back to health.

Bikers start 15 minutes before skiers and runners

I hadn’t planned on doing the race this year. But then a month ago my friend, Sarah, called to get advice. She was going to ski the 26-mile distance for the first time. After I got off the phone with her, I thought, “What the heck! I might as well sign up to ski the 26 miles, too.” I figured it couldn’t be slower than last year when the trails had three inches of fresh powder. I checked the race website and saw a few spots were available, so I signed up before I could change my mind. 

A week before the race, Eric finally came to his senses and switched to skiing. Smart decision! He had been clinging to the idea that he could still run the 26 miles, but that hope was fading with his lack of training miles. A report of soft trails by the race directors finally clinched it. 

So, even though neither of us planned to ski the 26-miler earlier in the winter, we both left the starting line on skis. 

Sarah, Eric and I ready to start our race on skis

It was a beautiful day to be out skiing. The temperature at the start was about 15F. The first 8 miles to Colorado Creek Cabin were well packed and fast. The typical overflow along Colorado Creek Trail was almost nonexistent. 

I took off faster than Eric, which is typical. I led a group of five women skiers for a few miles. Sarah had planned to ski with me, but when some of the faster women finally passed me, I told her to go with them. She did, but felt a little bad about it. I didn’t. I wanted her to ski her own race. She ended up finishing about 1.5 hours in front of me, so I’m glad she went ahead. 

The trail got softer on the long climb up the ridge. I had a hard time getting kick in the slippery snow, even after rewaxing with warmer wax. Things were worse for many bikers, who had to do a lot of pushing. I passed several on the uphill and many never passed me back even though the downhill had a better trail. Skiing was the way to go this year. Eric had better kick and caught me near the top of the climb. He was looking strong and having no calf issues. I knew he was faster, so I let him pass and didn’t see him again until the end. 

Eric, looking strong on the uphill, passes me

Even without Sarah and Eric, I had a lot of race company. I went back and forth with several people. That spurred my competitiveness with unfortunate consequences. I pushed hard, but I didn’t want to stop for food and drink. I think that’s why my stomach shut down. I know better, but it takes time to stop and get your gloves out of your ski straps! I didn’t do it and paid the price. 

I was back and forth with Lynn for several miles

After the checkpoint, the trail has a long descent with some tight corners. Luckily, there are some short dips that help slow your speed because this year the snow was fast. I managed to stay upright until my ski tip caught something on the side of the trail. I immediately went splat right on my chest, landing on a water bottle that I had in my front fanny pack. It knocked the wind out of me. I had to lay there for a moment catching my breath. I bruised my ribs on the water bottle but had no other real injuries. After that, I was much more cautious and managed to stay upright. 

But the fall took its toll. My ribs started to get sorer with every deep breath I took. And I still couldn’t eat. I was able to eat a bite of stroopwafel but just barely. So, I just kept getting slower and slower. Several people passed me in the last 3 miles, but I didn’t chase them. I didn’t have the energy.

I finished in just over six-and-a-half hours. That was 30 minutes faster than last year, but it felt almost as hard due to the slippery snow conditions. (By the end of the race, the temperature was around 30.) And I finished happy! I wasn’t going to let a little rib pain and lack of calories stop me from having a good time. What could be better than spending a day outside in beautiful weather on beautiful trails with like-minded people. Plus, my stomach finally settled down, so I was able to eat a grilled burger at the finish. Life is good!

Eric finished in just under six hours, also feeling good...and hungry. He ate a burger, two hot dogs, a chicken sandwich, a pastry, and drank a beer! He nicely went back to get the car where we parked it at the Compeau Trailhead, so Sarah and I didn't have to do any more skiing. 

Eric finishing

Crossing the finish line

This is such an amazing race.  It has been put on the last few years by race directors Nikki Potter and Ryan Kabat. They have done such a great job with growing this race and making sure all racers have an awesome day on the trails. 


And thank you to all the volunteers who came out to help with grooming the trails, manning the checkpoints, grilling food after the race, and making sure that all the racers were well taken care of. The race wouldn’t happen without you all. We racers really appreciate how much work you do so that we can have a day of fun!

26.5 miles with 3000 feet of elevation gain