Redemption at Mammoth Marathon

It has taken me awhile to learn how to ski marathons. Last year, I thought that drinking some HEED from my drinkbelt would give me adequate calories for the 42km distance. Not so much. I was hurting by the time I reached about the 30km mark and I did not even come close to finishing strong. I learned that a bottle of HEED has about 100 calories depending on its strength. I did much better at the Gold Rush a couple weeks later, which was also held in warm spring conditions.

This year, I packed 3 GU packets along with my HEED. I took every feed that I passed by and I did much better. I managed to cram down 3 GUs in one lap which was a little much but I felt good enough to drop my drinkbelt and lose the weight for the last 2 laps. The aggressive feeding worked wonders for me. Even skiing on my own, I was pretty confident through the end, except for the banked S-turns. I could not risk an ugly fall here with my reflexes getting slower and slower.

The conditions were a little bit easier than last year. Although a fresh snow fall slowed the overall times somewhat, the last half of the race did not feature rapid changes from slick cold snow to suctioning warm slush like last year. Hitting the brakes in every warm spot was truly the last straw. If I have a bad race, it’s a great motivator for the next year.

Far West Nordic has two epic point-to-point races in the next weeks. The Tahoe Rim Tour will run from Tahoe XC to Northstar XC this coming Saturday. Find some fishscales or klister and get out for our longest classic race, or hop in the skate or snowshoe division. Anyone with a love for snow travel can do it without competing hard. The local race season concludes at the Village at Squaw Valley. It’s short (3.2 miles) and sweet (uphill). If you haven’t skied corduroy at Squaw High Camp before the alpine skiers arrive, you have not really lived in Tahoe.

About Michael

I am running, skiing, and exploring the Sierra Nevada. I first learned to ski at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, I returned to Los Angeles to work for two fire seasons on the Little Tujunga Hotshot Crew (USFS). This is my second winter in Tahoe.