The much-anticipated Nakkertok/XC Ottawa time trial took place on December 30th. This was the inaugural race event at the brand-new Nakkertok Nordic Development Centre, a set of race trails attached to (and incorporating) the old Nakkertok South racing loops.
The course started in the brand-new stadium, and looped through the stadium 3 times before entering the finish. The new stadium is the best place in Canada I have yet seen from which to watch a race; it beats even Sovereign Nordic Racing Centre, the host of one of next year's Canadian World Cup races, in this respect.
The race was a mass start 3/5k classic, and featured six starts. The total field was over 60 starters. XC Ottawa was represented by all of the skiers who managed to make it back to Ottawa from their Christmas vacations. The open men's race featured 22 starters- a bigger field than the Canada/Ontario Cup race in Thunder Bay, also held on December 30th!
The open men's race began as a tight, exciting battle. The course was fast and hard due to a cold, humid night the previous night, and the diligent work of two inexperienced track-setters. The men streamed out through the stadium down a gradual bumpy downhill to the first major event, Gopher Gully. This fast downhill with two quick corners acts as the 'holeshot', similar to freestyle slalom races. Brian Czop, of XC Zone, won the holeshot, and the rest of the field tucked in behind him. Rounding the bottom corner of the course and beginning the gradual climb back to the stadium, Karl Saidla of XC Ottawa took control. He pulled away and gapped the field slightly, with Tom McCarthy just hanging on to his draft. The course zipped through the stadium and began the first and hardest major climb on the course, Powerline, followed immediately by Montee McCarthy. Karl established a 10 second gap on this hill, which the rest of the field was unable to close. The course then flew down Dirk's Dive, a downhill equal to any others in speed and technical requirements. After Dirk's Dive, the course climbs Sharon's Chute, a venerable hill known and respected by all those who have climbed it in a race. The course cut down Dave's Hill immediately after Sharon's, and back into the stadium, to begin the final leg, the 500m Jackrabbit Loop.
Karl won the Open Men's race by 17 seconds, followed by Tom and then Ed McCarthy, another 6 seconds back. Wayne Dustin followed close on Ed's heels, followed by Richard Weber and Craig Storey. Dirk Van Wijk, who designed and built the course, managed a very strong 7th place.
The Open Women's race was won by Perianne Jones, although this is not technically correct because she started with the men (she finished 9th of the 22 men). In a separate start women's race Megan McTavish of XC Ottawa was second, followed by Marita Cockburn in third place, 5 seconds behind Megan.
The race was a huge success, and the new Nordic Centre was a terrific host course. The course is ideally located and set up. Expect big things of the Nakkertok Nordic Centre in the near future! Thanks so much to Dirk Van Wijk, Sue Holloway, Claudia Van Wijk, Jim McCarthy, Josee Auclair, Edith and Joan Post, Margaret McCarthy, Jean McCarthy, and all the others who pitched in to help things run smoothly.