Saturday I raced in the Fossavatnsgangan 50km race in Iceland. It was the first time I had ever been to Iceland and raced outside of North America. This race was especially memorable because my grandfather passed away last week. He was one of the major reasons why I came to love skiing so much. Growing up skiing was a family activity. All of my extended family on my father’s side would go cross country skiing together from ski races where we had most of the family competing and days spent touring around Stowe, VT. I remember my grandfather best for staying active despite growing older. At 80 he finished the bike race up the Mount Washington Auto Road. At 82 he raced the 25km Great Glenn’s to Bretton Woods Ski Marathon and this fall at 90 years old he was still riding his road bike with clip on pedals. The red bike, from 1985, I use for a road bike used to belong to him and has traveled thousands of miles under both of our own power.
Here is a picture of my dad and I with our (grand)father’s skis at the race here in Iceland.
The race itself was quite the adventure. Due to a very wet and windy storm they changed the race courses, distances, start times, and start location the day before the race. Visibility was fairly low and wind was high, there are almost no trees in Iceland just open snowfields. It would be fair to say over the last few weeks my focus wasn’t prioritized on ski racing and I skied most of the race by myself. I had a blast and just kept on going, like my grandfather did. In the end I finished 8th, but managed to walk away with some hardware.
I got a plaque for finishing 3rd in my age group 16-34 because they didn’t include the racers on the podium in the age group awards. Engraved on the plaque is a map of the course we were supposed to ski but didn’t.
Maybe the best part of the race was the awards/cake party. In town after the race, all of the locals made hundreds of amazing cakes for all the racers. I ate so much I was almost asleep when they called me up for the awards, which was difficult to follow since it was in Icelandic.
Tomorrow the top priority is to find some hot springs on the drive to the airport. There are tons of super scenic naturally occurring hot springs here!!
And here is the whole crew I came with on the Red Carpet