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2009 Gatineau Loppet Report #2: My Gloppet
By:  Gino Ainsley   (2009/02/17)

How was your Gloppet? You end up telling and retelling your race tale to all your competitors and friends so why not share it with the rest of the ski community here on the website? Send us an email with your story and even photos and we'll post it for all enjoy.

This year, I was quite uncertain of what I could do at the Gatineau Loppet. After a stupid bike accident in the fall which kept me off training for almost 2 months followed by an all-time low in motivation, I started x-c skiing season very low on base training. However, things progressed fairly well for me since January and despite the lack of volume, I thought that if things went well I could do OK at this year's edition of the Gatineau Loppet. I did not think I could pull off a top ~20 as previously done but if the snow gods were with me, maybe I could pull off a top 25-30.

So I had an ok start, and quickly found a group that I was comfortable to ski with. By looking at the results later, this turned out to be guys from about position 22 to 28. I felt under control and the pace was not too hard. I felt confident that I could remain with this group until the end. I noticed that my skis were OK but not great - on long down hills I had to be careful because I was losing ground a bit. However, being in a group of 7-8 guys, the draft is good enough and people generally regroup naturally.

I never carry anything to drink, I always rely on the getting drinks from the feed zone. At Penguin, after 16-18km, I wanted to have some sugar - a Gatorade. However I was only handed water. So I had to stop for a brief 5 seconds to find the proper drink. I could not afford to lose the "mothership" so I had to catch up with my group of guys. In retrospect, I should have pushed a little more on the uphill to completely catch up. I was almost there and on the other side of the hill, on the long descent, I was only only meters behind when I crashed right in the middle of the hill (I'll spare you the details). So I lost the mothership. How do you catch up when these guys are going 40 km/h downhill and you start at 0 km/h? Answer: by spending a lot of energy - energy that I unfortunately did not have. I proceeded up to Champlain, picked up a couple of guys on the way, and at one point we caught up to Craig Storey (XCOttawa) - we then formed a group of 4 guys. We made it up to Champlain and on the way down, things started to turn sour for me - the elastic game really started. On every downhill, I would lose ground to my 3 companions and had to catch back every time. My 3 bigger friends seemed to just fly downhill and even in their draft I could barely hang on. The first big blow for me occurred down Black lake, when I saw Craig taking off like a rocket - jury is still out if this is due to his size or his Karhu skis :-). The final blow occurred down Pink lake - this is when I lost contact with this group of 3 and I had very little in the tank at that point. I tried to make up the lost distance but my body was not agreeing with this.

So roughly 5-6 km to go to the finish line seemed like a lot of distance to cover. Every once in a while I would look behind but I was not seeing anybody. Near Asticou, I started to see a big group. It seems like a pack of angry (and hungry) wolves chasing me! This is not far from the truth :-) - they passed me as I entered the turn-around point at Asticou with about 2.5 km to go. They were about 10 people, including the 2 XC Ottawa women, Sheila and Megan, and 2 of my training partners, Yves and Maurice. I proceeded to climb the Asticou hill with only sugar vapors in my body - I even had to take a little 5s pause in the middle. So I made it to the end along side with Dev Paul.

Conclusion, got a 42nd place but I was hoping for a better result. So next objective is Mont-Valin. I am hoping to have a better race there.

Interesting Reading. . .
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