Long and painful slog report: U.S. National Championship 30km/50km
By: Karl Saidla (2016/04/05)
A couple of us couldn’t pull together the necessary time off work to get to what were an undoubtedly excellent Canadian Nationals in Whitehorse. Instead, we travelled to Craftsbury, Vermont for the third time this year to take one final kick at the can before ending this year’s racing season. The Craftsbury Outdoor Centre was hosting the SuperTour Finals and U.S. National Championship 30km (women) and 50km (men) races.
By now it is old news that Craftsbury is a great racing venue and has been incredibly reliable in terms of managing to put together races when real snow is virtually non-existent. Hosting a whole week’s worth of national-level races in these circumstances is a tall order and as usual, Craftsbury delivered beyond all reasonable expectations.
Megan and I only arrived in time for the abovementioned 30km/50km event so we can’t report on the rest of the week but from talking to people we were left with no doubt that everyone had a good time and enjoyed fine hospitality.
As for the races themselves, we have to say that they proved to be the most challenging of the season for us. The 3.4 km loop featured 2 tough sections of climbing (with one of them being VERY tough) that were repeated 9 times for the women and 15 times for the men. A high temperature of roughly plus 9, coupled with the many racers doing multiple laps meant that the conditions quickly got very soft and slow, with the ultimate result being an unusually high number of people running more or less completely out of energy several laps before when would have been ideal (i.e., at the finish!)
“Saw stars and black spots”, “legs completely &*! stopped working”, and “I was sure my lap counter was lying to me” and “it was like somebody stole all the ski training I have ever done” were all expressions heard afterwards. The results sheet shows an unusually large number of DNFs and some late race individual lap times by World Cup level skiers that I have absolute confidence could be beaten 10 year olds.
Of course, I am pleased to say that neither of us succumbed to the temptation to pull over and whimper or to race ending leg cramps. In fact, we could reasonably call the racing a success, with Megan finishing 36th and Karl 30th. Certainly, there is also something satisfying about the simultaneous feeling of complete exhaustion and knowing that more of the same isn’t really in order for at least several months.
Before signing off, we would like to thank a few people in particular with reference to this trip:
John Suuronen, Craig Storey and Zach Caldwell for waxing help and advice.
The Craftsbury Outdoor Centre for being such great hosts and finding my jacket (not to mention my phone that I left behind last time I was there!).
- Megan is in picture #1 and #51...we couldn't find Karl in any of them
Megan skiing at Craftsbury in January.