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E Load Marathon Race Report: Olympic Trials 30km and 50km…How many laps do I have left?
By:  Karl Saidla   (2009/12/26)


Tuesday’s final Olympic Trials events were the 30km (women) and 50km (men) individual start classic events, both held on exclusively on the punishing 5km World Cup loop. That meant six times the roughly 2km climb out of the stadium for the women, and 10 times for the men. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it has been rumoured that the total climb per lap is equivalent to a thirty story building. If you work that out, when you do that climb 6 or 10 times it amounts to climbing a really big building…like something about 3 times the height of CN Tower I think.

To put it mildly, the people who won these events are undoubtedly in bloody good shape and are probably about as tough as the highest quality rawhide. The results are all available on-line at www.zone4.ca, and given that the author was a participant in this event, he’s not qualified to give a detailed account of how the races really played out. He can say that he’s most impressed by the wins of both Madeleine Williams and Brian McKeever---both more than deserving of a trip to that thing in Whistler in a couple of months. You can read all about them in much more major publications than this one.

XC Ottawa had three people registered in this much anticipated event: Sheila and Megan in the 30 km and Karl in the 50km. Alana was also racing, but in a separate 10 k event which was being held at the same time, mainly for people (like Alana) who had important racing coming up after Christmas like the World Junior and U23 Trials events in ValCartier  The cold hard tracks made waxing relatively easy, but it was a little tough to decide on what balance of grip vs. glide to go with. The relentless climbing made grip of utmost importance…but nobody wants slow skis either! We were very happy to have XC Ottawa founding member Tom McCarthy helping out Jukka Suuronen (we learned on this trip that Jukka is his real name!) in the wax room and with dragging out some 30 odd bottles of much needed E Load mixed with Fly to hand out to the racers as they went by every 5kms. A big thanks is owed to both and not just for Tuesday. It was a long and demanding trip for the “technical support team” and they did the whole thing with encouraging words and smiles on their faces! Also, thanks to E Load for their amazing products and support of our team since 2001!

Sheila woke up with a cold but raced anyway after finding an article on the internet which seemed to indicate that racing wouldn’t be a bad decision, at least over the long term. While the long term effects are still being tested, after four laps she decided that the short term effects were significant enough to end her race. Given Sheila’s excellent racing in the classic sprint events shortly before, I am sure we will see her feeling better and going fast again very soon.

While Megan was not particularly pleased with her race, she did, nevertheless, report a certain feeling of satisfaction having made it both up and down that hill six times, all without any shoulder dislocations! Like Sheila, she did do some very good racing earlier in the trip and could certainly go home satisfied with how things went on this trip overall.

Finally, before I ramble on a bit about what the long race felt like for me, I’ll mention that Alana placed 8th in the10k classic event among the open women. This was actually her first distance race of the year so far and so it was good for her to find that rhythm again.

I was really looking forward to the 50k from the first time I heard rumours about it early in the summer. I figured this would be a pretty unique event. 50k races are generally rare, not to mention with an individual start. The fact that it was an Olympic trials event added to the intrigue. The last and only time I had done an individual start 50k was in 1997 and I was keen on trying it again. It was a major challenge trying to figure out how to prepare for it given that I wouldn’t actually be on skis until 3 weeks before and by that time the “training” would basically be over anyway. All things considered, I think I arrived in Canmore fairly well prepared and in a good mood. I raced on Sunday in the sprint event just to stay sharp and that went fairly well by my admittedly modest standards, so I was optimistic.

Once I actually got out there and got started I figured out fairly quickly that while I was skiing reasonably well, I just wasn’t having the special kind of day that you are always looking for in the “big” events. I skied almost entirely by myself, mainly because I was having one of those kind of days where I felt like I could keep going all day at one particular pace, but had no ability to adjust to someone else’s fluctuations in speed and for that reason, couldn’t manage to stick with people who passed me. The 10 laps ticked by relatively quickly, and I was pleased that I was able to keep the speed fairly consistent throughout. For sure, I slowed down a little towards then end when things got really tough, but I still felt like I had good energy throughout despite the extreme nature of the course. In the end, I finished 16th (15th Canadian) which, while not among my very best races, was, realistically speaking, within the range where I usually finish in these types of events.

Regardless of exactly how well we did in the races, it was really fun to be part of the Olympic Trials and the excitement that went along with that. Racing of this level and excitement only happens every so often!

Interesting Reading. . .
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