“There’s no better feeling than finishing that race!”*
Read the entire saga of my experiences and impressions of the first leg here
See the full results
Story in the Banff Crag & Canyon Skiers avoid obstacles at loppet
Please see Comments below for other skier’s tales of determination and accomplishment.
Other loppet skiers are welcome to give us an account of your race-day experience. Click on Comments below, or send me an email.
*The quote at the top courtesy of Mike Freeman who skied the entire 71K.
Feb 3 Update: As of today, this blog has now had 10,000 views this winter!
Ken Hill sent this in:
Friends of mine have called this a wilderness Loppet – for a good reason. The course takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of the Canadian National Park- Rocky Mountains with varying terrain of hills(UP/down), swamp, river, and wooded areas. However, you realize that this is a challenging wilderness race when the organizer announcement before start states that the Moose have the right away and you are allowed to take your skis off and walk along the road to avoid the danger of shear drop and beware that winter conditions can change abruptly over the next 6 hours to 7 hours in the mountains -so be prepared
The forecasted temperature on race day was between – 9c to -14c with winds of 15kmph from the west. I liked the direction of the wind. It meant I would have a tail wind through out the race – All Right!!!
With the temperature forecast and analysis of the elevation terrain profile, I waxed the grip zone of my skis accordingly – the night before. (I hope my coach Ian Daffern misses this). What I had to take into account was that my skis had to be fast on the first downhills and I had to have grip on the hills at the 50km point in the race. This is a challenge in itself.
Now the race –
As usual you can always expect the unexpected.
On race morning the temperature was at -5c which meant it was too warm. I had waxed for colder temperature and I hoped that temperatures would drop. – Crazy eh! As well in my haste in packing after work I left my heart rate monitor at home. I had planned to race the distance in Zone 2 or a heart arte of 155bpm for the period of 6-7 hours. Now I had to race on conceived effort. Then minutes before the start time wind gusts were at 50kmph and I put on more cloths because I was cold. Only to be ready at the start line 10 seconds before the start time. All this meant, I was pumped and ready to go.
At the start of the race I was in the race pack and managed to break ahead and settled in behind a group five on the downhill. It was ideal position to be in because the ones ahead of me were breaking trail through the lightly snow covered tracks. I maintained my position for the first 10km. It was at this mark I started to over heat and I stopped to shed clothing only to see the group pull away from. The next 10km to the Baker Creek aid station it was catch up to the group. I never did manage to close the gap. At one point at an overpass I tried to herringbone up a hill side and I lost my water bottle and I would like to thank my fellow racer who ever he was for picking it up and handing it to me.
At Baker Creek aid station, I stopped for a drink and two brownie squares. These brownie squares would keep me going to the next aid station. This took only two minutes to refuel and I was off again to catch the GROUP. The next few kms was flat and I was able to double pull most of the distance. At one point I came to a road crossing where an organizer was directing traffic. As I crossed I asked about the GROUP and I was encouraged to hear that they were only 5 minutes ahead which meant they were only 1km a way. It was possible I could catch them. SO back to double polling as I passed through a wooded area which was littered with pine cones and needles. As I continued down the course I could hear skiers approaching behind me (even without my hearing aid).
Hmmm. They were fast #31 and #32. What good technique!
I would only see them once again at Castle Lookout aid station were I took another two minute refueling break. After Castle Lookout aid station it was more double polling on great snow to the Johnson Canyon aid station. The wax was great. At the Johnson Canyon aid station I asked for “more sugar for refueling” and I was off to tackle the HILL. As I attempted to ski up the long hill I realized my grip wax was gone and I had to stop to re-wax with a warmer wax. This was a good move because I was able reach the crest of the hill. After I reached the top it was down the other side. The rest of the way to Sawback aid station was double poling. After my refueling at Sawback the course it took me through a challenging swamp area, and down a frozen river when high winds picked up. Then it was through narrow trails to the Sunshine Overpass.
At the Sunshine Overpass, one had to run up a high embankment to reach the aid stations. It was at this aid station I was able to switch to skate skis and into a dry pair of socks. You don’t realize how good this feels. Now, I had only 10km left to go. With this part of the course the trails are wide and I had the opportunity to ski along the Frozen Bow River into the town of Banff. I was excited to cross the finish line and the hot chocolate supplied by the volunteers tasted sooooo good.
With a time of 7hrs and 9 minutes, I placed 3rd in the 50+ age category
Ken Hill “Golden Age Warrior”