That was a crazy race. I started in the first wave, where there’s about 700 or so skiers all jostling to get a spot on the front line before the start. As soon as the official lets us move up to the line, it’s a mad dash to the line. I did my best from the front of the mass of people, but still only ended up getting a spot in the third row. Stage one over, 54 k to go.
I got out to a decent start, was moving up steadily, then got tripped up in the first 1.5 k. Just as I finished passing all the people that had gone by at the top of “power line hill” and was descending down the back side, I thought, “dang, it’s really cold here.” It was about 10 degrees, but the sun was still below the trees and the humidity was high (at least compared to Nevada). 8 k in I caught my Colby college buddie Jeremy Blazar. Two man wolf pack. Time to start catching some elite wave skiers, baby!
But another 10k later I started to get really cold. Another 5k and Jeremy dropped me as I began to shiver on the downhills. Then the birchleggins crowd and other gray old master blasters began to blow by me. I was practically walking. At the second to last aid station, with 12 or so k left, I skied up to a volunteer with feeds and said, “I need a coat”. She said, “You’re coming with me.” Inside the warming hut, I was given massages, hot drinks, food, and a spot next to a wood stove. For 20 minutes. Until I finally stopped shivering. Then, determined to finish, I took off with a donated purple patagonia sweater beneath my race bib.
I felt great after that as I slalomed through about 200 people on my last leg – many of whom were old skiers and tourists wearing bulky clothing under their bibs just like me. The crowds on the last stretch were awesome, and I had a blast soaking up the Birkie madness.All in all it was a great day and a ton of fun. It was also a great learning experience: wear plenty of clothing and eat a lot, especially early in the race. It’s easy to ski a bit overheated; skiing frozen is slow and dangerous. Hypothermia isn’t fun and isn’t something to mess with. Lesson learned.