2014 North End Classic Race Report

Sweet tracks.  Photo credit Roberta Mullin.

Time for a much more upbeat race report than my last one.

Pre-Race

We should start with this week overall.  I was freaking out a little bit that the Birkie was in three weeks and I didn’t think I had as many longer skis in as I did last year.  I blame the cold and illness.  I managed to get out for two 2.5 hours days this week and that certainly helps for the upcoming Birkie, but probably isn’t the best prep for a 25k race.  I didn’t ski at all on Saturday and just focused on getting my skis waxed, hydrating and carboloading.  Come Sunday morning I felt pretty good other than a little tired from the 5:00 am wake-up call to get to Cable by 9:00 am.

The nice thing about that 5:00 am wake-up call?  My parents were going to come with and take some pictures and bring my boys to watch the race.  This meant that my dad could drive and I could snooze on the ride up.  Sweet!  Thanks Mom and Dad.

Ski Prep

For skis, I prepped following the Fast Wax recommendations for glide and Swix for kick.  For glide I put in a layer of HS-10, two layers of LF-10, and a layer of HF-10.  I don’t have any cold pure flouros so I skipped that.  For kick I ironed in the VG-35 binder, ironed in a layer of Blue Extra (V40), and then did 3 layers of VR-30 making each layer slightly shorter than the previous.  I haven’t classiced much previously so my kick wax skills are pretty weak and all I can do is follow the directions as best I can.  How much binder do you put on and then iron?  Do you cork after ironing?  What is a “thin layer”?  How do I “match the shape of my kick wax pocket”?

The verdict was that it all worked very well.  My skis were on par with others I skied with.  Maybe a little faster than some, a little slower than others.  The kick was good without any noticeable drag.  I slipped a couple of times, but that had more to do with technique and fatigue than wax I think.  I was still kicking at the end so it all held up well for the 25km of cold snow.

The Race

OK, on to the race.  I started in the fourth row right next to Jim Kelley.  This is the closest I’ve started to the front.  Considering there were only about 8 lanes there weren’t that many people ahead of me.  The start was clean, except 100m into the race where it went from 8 wide to 4 wide, on a hard left onto the Birkie Classic trail, up a slight hill.  Other than that little mess in which I didn’t see anyone actually go down it was clean.

Me and Jim at the start of the race.  Photo credit Kelly Randolph.

It broke up into a few groups pretty quick.  The leaders were long gone, but I found myself in a group of about 10 people.  This group held together through about four of five km where I and two or three others came unhitched from the back of the group.  For the remainder of the first lap I skied with two other guys.  One indicated the guy pulling ahead on the double pole sections was a world class paddler.  In general we skied as a group alternating leads randomly.

Somewhere nearing the lap.  Photo credit Kelly Randolph

I lead the last km or so into the warming house for the first lap.  I had a very momentary concern about going another whole lap.  Then it went away.  Pulling back out onto the main trail from the little connector trail from the warming house I noticed I had somehow dropped the two guys I had skied the last half a lap with and there were two guys a ways up the trail, but no longer out of sight.

Over the next few km I managed to reel in Ski Hut guy (per the results Casey Krueger) and UofM guy.  Ski Hut guy had been a little ways back of UofM guy, but as I caught them Ski Hut guy and I pulled quickly away from UofM guy.  We skied together for a few more km and then somewhere between the Timer Trail crossings we spotted a few more guys up the trail.  Two specifically and one little glimpse of what appeared to be a few more.  I asked Ski Hut guy if we were going to go get them and his was response was “I hope so”.

Well I went and caught the next guy, losing Ski Hut in the process.  I then went after the next guy.  Despite doing what I felt was hammering (it was actually going as fast as I had the first lap) he was slow to pull in.  I caught him with about 1km to go.  I pushed hard thinking I could drop him.  Turns out I couldn’t, but I did still manage to hold him off in the downhill sprint to the finish line.

Hammering for the finish.  Photo credit Barry Mullin.

Summary

Post race festivities at Rivers Eatery


What a great race.  Good course, good people, good company, and I skied well.  Even before looking at any results or running the analysis I felt like it was a good race.  I skied hard, didn’t bonk, and finished strong.  The pace certainly exceeded my pre-race expectations.
Race Results
The results were good.  22nd overall and 3rd in my age group are solid in my book.  Unfortunately I collected the 2nd place age group mug at Rivers Eatery.  It was loud and when I told the guy Ben Mullin and he repeated Ben Menk and I said yup, neither of us heard clearly.  Yes, second in my age group was Ben Menk.  Pretty easy to get confused in a very crowded and loud Rivers Eatery.  I’ll be swapping my mug out Birkie Weekend.
Nerding out comparing this race against past races.
My nerdy spreadsheet agrees, it was my best race since I started skiing again.  My spreadsheet looks for people who did both races and then calculates a trend line to equate one race time to another.  It isn’t perfect for many reasons and with smaller numbers of co-racers it is less accurate.  Combine this with how the race felt though and I have to agree it was a good race.
What’s Next

This coming Saturday is the CyclovaXC Championships at Big Rock Creek.  I’m really looking forward to this low key hammerfest (can you have a hammerfest be low key?).  Then, there is that Birkie thing the following Saturday.  I’m definitely feeling feverish.
I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of green the next few weekends!

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