Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Big Birkie

Saturday the 21st was the American Birkiebeiner cross country ski race from Cable to Hayward, Wisconsin. I started out next to Tom Bengel and Mike Brumbaugh with a few other guys around us like Craig Ruud and Ron Lowrie. When the cannon went off for the first wave we took off on our way to Hayward on the skate course. Mike and I passed Tommy fairy early and then skied up and down the powerline to the first feed station. I grabbed a feed but Mike kept going. That was the end of me trying to hang with him. Right after the feed, I caught up to John Fitzgerald, Dale Thompson, Jeff Arndt and Andy Wood. I skied with those guys all the way to Double OO which is the half-way point. They were kicking my butt up the hills but I always managed to catch back on on the downhills. I was pretty much at my limit. Those big hills the first half of the race really are hard on me. Andy Wood and Jeff Arndt got ahead of me before Double OO. Once we got past it though I skied the kilometer to the top of the big downhill. Fitzgerald and Thompson were with me at that point but once we got down the hill, I took off and left them behind. The second half of the race suits me much better as the hills are smaller, more rolling and there is a lot more downhill. I caught up to Steve Sands and followed him for a few kilometers. We caught Andy Wood's group and drafted off them for a while which was fine with me. Then, Sands went around them so I followed him. I was happy to draft off Sands until a lone skier passed us. I decided to follow that guy and thought Sands would follow but he didn't. I followed that guy and was with him when Mike Meyers and Bjorn Daehlie came by leading the classic race. We couldn't stay with them but we kept going. I followed him until the Mosquito Brook feed station. I got a feed from Henry Wisnewski before the feed station so I kept going. Past the feed station is another big climb. I got up that one and then passed Jeff Arndt who was struggling along. Next up was Bitch Hill. I did my usual single sticking to the top and passed Clay Diggins who was slowing down. I kept hammering to the next group and decided to draft a while. About thirty seconds later, another guy comes around us so I went with him. We paced ourselves up the last big climb and then I passed him on the downhill run to Lake Hayward. I hooked up with a couple of Wave 2 guys who were cruising along. Hey, I'm an elite skier on the lakes! I followed them and passed John Jerecek and then a few more skiers on Main Street to the finish. My time was 300:56 and I was 591st. Last year I was in the 700s so dropping seven pounds from last year really helped. Dropping ten more pounds would get me to the weight of my fastest Birkies several years ago. Not sure how much the extra years of age would slow me down though. Check out the picture taken by Bruce Adelsman of Maybe I should get a new race suit...

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