Canadian Ski Marathon

Break your leg skiing, but still write to say how much fun you had…let Dennis Kolba tell the story.

You’re killin’ me, Bob! Gorgeous photos, and what a day it must have been. I love Cascade Fire Road. I should have been there. In a minute, I’ll tell why I wasn’t.

For now, I’d like to let skihere followers know about the Canadian Ski Marathon.

I skied the CSM (in the Ottawa/Gatineau area) last weekend. It may be the coolest event there is for xc ski lovers. That “may be” just shows I’m open-minded: to me, it is the coolest event there is, Period. How many times do you get the chance to ski 167 km in a weekend? Across beautiful, rolling Laurentian Shield terrain.

As far as I know, I was the only Calgarian there, and I’m thinking how wonderful it would be to have several more next year. Maybe to train together, maybe to ski the event together.

I was back for my eighth CSM, after a ten-year break. It was a tough one for me this time; I felt low on energy much of the time. A nutrition issue, mainly, not taking on enough fuel for portions of the route. And I hadn’t gotten a lot of skiing in this season.

If you want fun and socialization, there are about 2000 other skiers out there, doing what they love and enjoying the Canadian winter and the amazing support this event provides for two days, and you can ski as much or as little of the 160+ km route as you want. If you want that plus a mega-challenge, go for the full distance. I’d heard from a couple of friends who had done Ironman and CSM that CSM was tougher. I was skeptical. Having done Ironman Canada for the first time last summer, there was more than one point in the CSM last weekend when I was wholly in agreement. (The perspective of time makes a big difference: If the question had occurred to me at various points during Ironman, no doubt the response would have been an unrestrained “Bullsh–!” So don’t be intimidated; it’s doable, by all ages.)

Google “canadian ski marathon 2011? for lots of hits and information. I just checked two today, and they describe much of the experience well:


Fresh air, snow, joy, exhaustion, exhilaration, zen. To paraphrase a locally very familiar phrase: The coolest outdoor event on Earth! If anyone wants to hear more about it, or thinks having a Calgary group out there next year would be fun, feel free to contact me:

OK, back to why I wasn’t skiing yesterday: I sustained a little injury at the 157 km point in the CSM. I was coming quickly up on a slow skier on a downhill, called “on your right” and moved into the deep snow on the right to pass; he moved into the deep snow on the right, too, and stopped. Boom! much pain in ankle! To my surprise, after a couple minutes was able to stand up and put weight on both legs. Carefully skied the last 10 km to finish the event. I assumed it was just a sprain but eventually got xrayed and learned it’s a broken fibula.

So, sitting here with my foot up in a cast, still as pumped as I am about the whole experience, think how special the CSM must be.

I’ll be relying on for vicarious ski enjoyment for a while! Keep the great posts coming. I hope I’ll see you on the trails before the end of the season.


That’ll be one to tell your grandchildren. Congratulations for finishing!-Bob
Spectacular day in PLPP today

Pocaterra/Lynx junction in PLPP. Feb 20, 2011

It was -15 when the four of us started skiing at 11:30 from Pocaterra. I could tell it was warming up considerably when my green wax stopped working. By the time we got back to the hut at 2:10, the temp was -2.

Pocaterra trail. Feb 20, 2011

All the trails are in excellent condition. We skied Pocaterra, Lynx,  Amos, Woolley, Meadow, Wheeler, Packers. You might recognize those as the exact same trails for the 24K Cookie Race coming up next weekend.

We used duct tape to attach this basket. Feb 20, 2011

Another reminder today why you should always carry duct tape in your pack. Michelle’s basket fell off her pole and wouldn’t stay on, but with the help of duct tape, it gave no more problems.

A happy family at the Pocaterra/Lynx junction. Feb 20, 2011

With the Family Day holiday tomorrow, it should be another busy day with lots of happy skiers. Conditions are at their best.


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  1. I had the opportunity to ski the Canadian Ski Marathon a couple of years and found it to be one of the best ski events. It was fun to ski a “race” where the goal was distance rather than speed. I broke a ski during the second day. It was replaced by the friendly folks at the MEC booth. It was interesting to ski the last 32K with one wide, old touring ski and one new, narrow racing ski.

    It was fun starting each day’s ski in the dark following, and being followed, by a long line of headlamps.

  2. I’m not well-informed about what zen means, technically. In this case, it means that wonderful state I assume all xc skiers must know, when you’ve been going for an hour or more and are just totally into the rhythm, mellow, immersed in winter, loving every stride, or sometimes, feeling the pain and letting it pass, … well, I’m no poet, so I better stop there!

    Now that I think of it, zen and endorphines could be different names for the same thing!

  3. “Fresh air, snow, joy, exhaustion, exhilaration, zen.”

    Hey Dennis, I had all that today and only had to ski 24K! I’d be interested in hearing more about the zen aspect.

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