Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Race week - Boulder Mountain Tour

It’s funny the mixed feelings I have leading up to a race that I’m going to compete in. This week is the Boulder Mountain Tour north of Sun Valley, Idaho bringing in 1000 people from all over the country for the 2nd largest Nordic skiing race in the country. It’s a 32 kilometer race (~20 miles) so it’s considered a “Nordic marathon” albeit one on the short end (many are 50k). On the one hand, I’m as fit as I’ve been in awhile – no excuses with the trails out my backdoor and having nearly 2 hours back per day in my life without a commute. I only miss a handful of days a year working out as a result. I was surprised when I was randomly selected at a meeting for a body fat test and it was only 5%. On the other hand, I also find myself thinking that I’m not very fit with the accompanying excuses – work/family limits the duration of my workouts, my skill level (big factor) in Nordic is mediocre, I missed a week of training 2 weeks ago due to a knee injury, etc. Also, when you live in a place like Sun Valley, there are some super fit people who are nearly fulltime athletes and I simply don’t have the time/desire to put that commitment into it. There are guys in their 50’s and 60’s that would kick the butt of 99.9% of those under 30 not to mention the 20 & 30 something skiers in the race.

Barring extreme cold (see this interesting article on Nordic skiers getting asthma from racing in extreme cold) or injury, I’m going to be out there Saturday. It’s a fun, well run event with lots of great people to ski with. Check out some of the pics to get a feel for the race – the scenery is fantastic. Last year was fun despite my 4 crashes – the course was icy in spots since there hadn’t been fresh snow in weeks. We may have the opposite problem this year with a soft course due to all the snow we’ve been getting. I went out yesterday on part of the course and it was definitely soft/slow.

Update: The excerpt below from an article on the race captures how challenging the race ended up being. The picture above (courtesy of the Wood River Journal) gives you some feel for the amount of snow coming down and the mayhem created at the finish line.

It was a worst-case scenario—heavy snow starting 30 minutes before the race start at Senate Meadows near Galena Lodge, and continuing for nearly the entire two-and-a-half hours that it took to get 782 racers across the finish near the SNRA headquarters.

Chief of Race Rick Kapala said, "It was a really, really tough race, hard for the average competitor. It was tough for the lead racers, too. We had a lot of reports of stepping on skis and banging poles. The snow made it impossible to pass because you got bogged down in soft snow. It was also impossible to ski in front."

Though my time was worse this year (the winners were even slowed by 15-20 minutes), I managed to move up about 160 places which I was pleased with given the conditions (it was extremely tough to pass). I also felt fresh at the end unlike last year. I've never skied in worse conditions in terms of visibility and saw many crashes as people veered off the course or tried to pass and buried their ski tips in the snow banks.

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