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Eload Marathon Race Report: Skiathlon day of racing at World Junior Trials at Highlands Nordic in Duntroon, Ontario.
By:  Andre Marchand   (2015/01/08)

Wednesday marked the first day of racing at World Junior Trials at Highlands Nordic in Duntroon Ontario. The skiathlon is a continuous distance race where the competitors start in the Classic technique and switch to Skate at the halfway point of the race. The open men raced a 30 km race (i.e.15 km classic & 15 km skate), while the women raced a total of 15 km (7.5 classic / 7.5 skate).

While all ski racing is hard, the skiathlon is arguably one of the hardest races of the year. This might be because we only do one or two events like this per year, or because the first 2km after the transition to skate skiing always feels brutal. After finding your rhythm in classic it is hard to suddenly switch to skate and begin racing with a different group of muscles that are working in a very different way.

The weather was also a force to be reckoned with Wednesday, with a severe SNOW SQUALLS weather warning, and the temperature (with wind chill) holding steady at -20 degrees celsius, the race site looked something like the planet Hoth, seen below.

Sheila, Kyla, and Ingrid, bundled up with buff’s and tape to prevent frost bite

We have established that it’s a tough day for the athletes, but it is also an extra long day for the coaches and wax team who have to prepare 2 skis per athlete, which usually means prepping a TON OF SKIS! Big thanks to our coach John Suuronen and Peter Rozmovits, from Vauhti ski wax & Canadian Winter Sports, for giving us some awesome race skis!

We also woke up extra early Wednesday to prepare eLoad feeds for the men doing the 30km. Taking eLoad feeds during a long race like the skiathlon makes all the difference in the last half of the race. To give you an idea, the open men on the team took between 8 and 12 feeds during this 30km.

The feed bottles full of eLoad in an insulated bag, to prevent them from freezing! Big thanks to XC Ottawa alumni Holly Jones, who spent all day on the course sidelines handing us feeds and cheering us on!

The team had a strong showing with Steffan Lloyd finishing 28th, and Andre Marchand finishing 39th in the Open Men category. On the Open Women’s side, the XC Ottawa racers had a strong showing occupying 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 24th place, respectively belonging to Sheila Kealey, Ingrid Hagberg, Kyla Vanderzwet, Liza Rozina and Katie McMahon.  XC Ottawa training partner, Mark Rajack got his first taste of racing a 30km, but unfortunately got pulled off the race course by the officials because the race leaders had lapped him. 

We are all looking forward to Saturdays Classic Sprint race! Stay tuned for the sprint race report!

Sheila skiing at the winter wonderland known as Highlands Nordic

Thanks for reading, keep the shiny side down!

Andre M.

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