January 19th, I completed the Whitefish Whiteout in Montana. I prepped and put a lot of things into place to make that race successful for myself. I re-arranged schedules in order to arrive into Montana at a decent hour to allow for proper rest. I trained and tapered for the race. I put a lot of energy into this one day. For me- this race was a big deal.
Along the way my skis went missing. Imagine my devastation. My world immediately shattered. My partner Mitch, in a positive manner, tried everything he could to resolve the immediate problem. How was I going to race without skis? I had 1.5 hours to solve this problem before the race start time. To my relief, Steve Sellars (a member of the national skimo team) had an extra set of skis, and Brad Schalles (another member) an extra set of skins. Steve, down on his hands and knees in the parking lot, spent his time fidgeting with a stubborn pair of bindings, re-adjusting them to fit my boots. His time would have been better served warming up and taking care of his young daughter. Nonetheless, Steve took that time to ensure I was able to compete.
At the starting line Katie French and Niki Kimball (top female athletes in that neck of the woods), introduced themselves to me and continued to chit chat and laugh with me at the starting line. Again- they could have used that energy to zone in on their game. Instead they let out cries, “We love our Canadians!” as the race was about to begin.
Words of encouragement passed between myself and Marg (another competitor as we moved along the course. Other competitors would cheer me on as I passed through transitions. Cowbells rang with cries, “UP! UP! UP!” And hugs and high fives were given at the finish line.
Skimo competitions are certainly a grueling sport that requires a lot from an athlete. They can bring a person to a place of great discomfort or pain both physically and mentally. However, the people I have raced with this year have certainly contributed substantially to the rewards and fulfillment that I have experienced this season. They have made every minute of training, or every moment of discomfort during the competition completely worthwhile.
For those of you out there, who have heard of skimo racing, but are intimidated, or simply unsure, take this as a nudge towards registration. The athletes are a part of a community that foster self-discovery and challenge. Besides- its not everyday you see people in spandex at the resort 😉