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E Load Marathon Race Report: Gatineau Loppet 55k Classic
By:  Team   (2013/02/20)



On Saturday XC Ottawa lined up for the much anticipated Gatineau Loppet 55km classic event on the new course from Lac Philippe to Mt. Bleu. We’re pleased to say that the event more than lived up to its billing. The course had everything you could hope for: variety, scenery, some big hills (but not TOO many), great competition, stellar grooming, and all very well organized as usual.


 Thanks to all our sponsors, friends, and supporters. In this particular case, we are highlighting a few that had a particular role in this race:

 E Load sports nutrition for all their help over the years and for the great sport drink and gels that we had handed to us at various parts of the course by our teammates and friends including Justin Demers (who chased Sheila for 5kms with her bottle when she had missed one), Pavlina Sudrich, Holly Jones, and Lindsay Chapman.

 John Suuronen, Peter Rozmovitz, Vauhti and Fresh Air Experience for the perfect wax jobs that we have come to expect as normal (but really should not). For the record, here is what we used:

 Glide: Vauhti LF Graphite, Vauhti HF Green, Vauhti HFC 21.

 Grip: Vauhti Super Base, Vauhti K19, a little bit of K15, and more Vauhti K19.

 To Gatineau Nordique Sport and Caldwell Sport for great grinds and ski selection help. Some of the ones we used this weekend for Gatineau Nordique Sport’s XTi.1, and Caldwell Sport’s Li.2.

 To Infinity Poles and Ulysse Ramsay. For more than 10 years there have been a lot of Infinity poles in the hands of XC Ottawa skiers!

Podiumwear for making us look and feel good!

 Race Highlights

After the friendly bus ride to the start at Lac Philippe, we all clambered out of the buses and tested skis before quickly lining up at the start. The sun was warming things up nicely and everyone was in a good mood. The start was quick and crisp, and the well groomed trails ensured no mishaps as we passed the beautiful Lac Philippe, followed by Herridge cabin, and finally, O’Brien beach.

 As one might expect, the fittest people asserted themselves on the climb from Meech Lake Road to the Fortune parkway. By the top of the Fortune climb,  Chelseas's own Steffan Lloyd (CNEPH), Raphael Couturier (CNEPH and just back from some impressive racing at World Juniors) and Benoit Chauvet (winner of last week's 76km Transjurasienne) were in the clear, with the rest of the men’s field, including XC Ottawa skiers Karl Saidla and Matthias Purdon working in groups of 2-3 and by themselves to limit the damage. Similarly, in the women’s race, Megan McTavish (XC Ottawa) had a fairly substantial margin by the top of the climb, followed by skiers including Tara Whitten (Edmonton), Martina Stursova (Czech Republic), Robyn Anderson (USA), and Sheila Kealey (XC Ottawa)

 By Champlain Lookout, Chauvet had made his escape, with Lloyd and Couturier strung out behind him. Karl and Matthias were roughly 2 and 3 minutes back respectively at that point. Megan had in the area of 2 minutes on the rest of the women, with Sheila beginning to make up ground on everyone except Megan.

 Very impressively, Chauvet continued to increase his lead for the duration of the last 20kms. Lloyd skied strongly in second place and on his own. Over the last 10kms Couturier tired (we should point out that at 19 years old, this was still a very impressive performance), with Karl eventually catching him some 2kms from the line. Matthias made up several spots to move up to 5th, almost catching Couturier as well.

 Megan reported not feeling totally comfortable with her lead, so she kept pushing all the way to the finish. Sheila chewed up the second half of the race impressively, moving all the way up to second. She was followed to the finish by  Stursova in third, Tara Whitten (hmm…that name looks familiar) in 4th and Tea Parnik of Estonia in 5th.

 All in all we’ll simply say that it was a great race to be a part of and we look forward to next year!



Men's winner - Benoit Chauvet

Men's 2nd place finisher - Steffan Loyd-Nice work Steffan!

Karl enjoying his recovery drink (in this case not Emend) on the podium

Women's winner - Megan McTavish

Megan and Sheila Kealey after the race

Megan needs more practice spraying champagne!

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