Boy, that was a tough one. The Birkie (a yearly tradition for my dad and I) was unbelievably challenging this year. The distance was shortened to 48kms (from 55kms) and there was a delayed start due to extremely cold weather conditions.
With a start temperature of -21 and a high of -19, everyone looked like they were about to rob a bank at the race start. There were more down jackets worn right up to race start than I’ve ever seen before. With the sun not quite up yet, the first 2kms of the race (on the lake) was exposed and cold.
Dad and I started the race right behind one another but he quickly dropped me once we were off the lake. We both were racing the traditional birkie category (with a 12 pound pack).
I struggled early in the race with blisters and they only got worse throughout the race. Fortunately, Dad did a great job waxing our skis and they were fast. My grip started to suffer (could have been sloppy technique too ;)) so I stopped to wax with about 14kms to go. It was a bit mentally challenging as the signage was confusing with the shortened distance and I was told (with 14kms to go) that there was 7kms to the finish. You can imagine how bummed I was 7kms later when I found out I had 7kms to go. Sigh. The volunteers were absolutely amazing. I can’t imagine being out there all day in the cold standing around. They were so positive and were always checking for frostbite and asking how cold you were. They really went above and beyond. Thanks volunteers!
I never was able to get Dad in my sights and he had an amazing race. That guy is such an inspiration. He skied the 48kms in 4:08 – making him 1st in his age group (by about 10 minutes) (1/17) and 19th overall with the pack. I hobbled in at 4:46 also fortunate enough to score a 1st place and 7th out of all the women carrying the 12 pound pack.
Congrats to all those who finished yesterday in those gruelling conditions. Special congrats to cousin Ian, Darryl, Mark Thomas, Mark Neilson and the Perry’s. Great to see you all out there!
See you on the trails!