Each skimo race this season has afforded different challenges, obstacles, and terrain; the diversity between courses has made them all unique and hard to compare. This past weekend the Gortex 2013 Continental Skimountaineering Championships took place- what a mouthful. Previously known simply as the Dogtooth Dash, the race received monetary sponsorship from Gortex .
The race started at the summit of Golden’s Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Unlike any other race in the circuit, skiers commence the race with a mad dash sprinting with skies in hand around the Eagle Eye restaurant. Cowbells were ringing, music pumping from loudspeakers, and the crowds were cheering. Despite the abnormality of running in ski boots, the racers whipped quickly around the circle and moved into the first transition. Boots were thrust into skis and the athletes crouched down, leaning into the descent, which followed a cat track over to crystal bowl. Undeterred by a small section of skate skiing, it was an alacritous blur of skiers flying down crystal bowl. Just as I was feeling happy about being the female in the lead, Martha managed to soar past me at the last second as we were aiming towards the next transition.
This transition zone felt like a gong show. Packed full of people, skins were flying in every direction as competitors succeeded one after the other like rapid fire. Transitions can either be to a racer’s benefit, or become their enemy. For me, the first transition did not go smoothly; I am not sure if I rushed, or what happened, but I simply could not get my boot into my binding. As this proved to be an issue, I watched the females one by one come in after me and head out before me up the first climb. Knowing I could easily move into a negative mental game, I concentrated on staying positive- it was only the beginning of a long race. Finally after some struggles I took off up the skin track, trying to navigate through all the people in front of me. I could see Martha up ahead and tried to catch up to her.
The rest of the race more or less consisted of me chasing Martha. I would slowly close the distance between us on the climbs, but then she would whip out of sight on the descents. Martha is a strong downhill skier and she rips through the runs no problem. Myself on the other hand…. Well….. form is not always an option. At times I am survival skiing as my body flails down the hill. It’s no wonder no one takes photos of me.
I pushed myself hard this race. It was remarkably longer than the other races gaining about 6000 vertical feet and covering approximately 14.5 horizontal km. The course was impressive involving 3 boot packs, steep terrain, and a sketchy downhill traverse with shark fin rocks that we lapped twice. My goal was to push harder, yet still have the endurance to last.
The final descent into bowl over took a toll on my legs and they started to cramp a little. Brenda (another athlete, this time a volunteer) was yelling and cheering me on down the run. She is always a welcome encounter on the race, feeding words of encouragement and pushing me to move faster.
What a superb race it was, filled with great people, challenge, and awesome terrain. Cannot wait until next year!