Monday, December 29, 2008

Boxing Day was also Ski Your Age in Kilometers Day in Fairbanks. This new tradition, which began in 2004, has gained in popularity each year and it's something people look forward to as the year winds down.

Or maybe we're just so demented by isolation, lack of light, and months of cold that it doesn't take much to amuse us. There were over 200 participants this year, up from about 140 last year. More than 2/3 of the participants were over 50 or under 20. Some over 60 skiers skied their age, and a couple of younger ones went 80+. They must have been out there 7 or 8, or eveb 9 hours. Here are some other links describing the event, which is now a fundraiser for FXC.

Faster Skier Article

Nordic Ski Club Faribanks write up

My family also participated and we racked 123K, with youngest son going 18K (he skied his age in miles), the older one doing a surprise 22K, and Tamara skied an amazing 32K. Keeping up with the Bakers was an impossibility. Bad Bob set out to do 100K on his own: his goal was 50K classic in the AM and 50K skate PM. He didn't make it but still skied 83K, one less than John Shook. Nevertheless Bob's daughter did 3X her age, 69K and his wife did 50K.

The day was a challenge as we had 3-4 inches of fresh snow over the previous two days, and temps hovered around zero, while dropping through the day. My goal was to skate the whole thing within the "sunrise to sunset" challenge. I started with the new 184 cm Atomic World Cup Skate skis, which worked quite well. They are incredibly light. Thirty or forty minutes into the ski (maybe 7.5 or 8K) I met up with local runner/skiers Mike Kramer and Harald Aas (1st and 3rd at this year's Equinox Marathon), and we skied about 10K together. They were going a little faster than I had wanted, and I knew that I wouldn't hold that pace the whole way, but I was also pleased to at least be keeping up with them on the downhills. This was the first time I'd skied with cold wax (Star LA8) on the new skis.

Per my plan, I switched out after 19K (the original plan was to do 4 loops of 13) and tried a second pair of Atomic World Cup Skates, these 190 cm, but with a softer flex. These were more like old school skis. They were okay--I used the exact same wax--but the glide wasn't as good and it just took more work to keep going. I skied this loop with local skier Max Kaufman--we are often closely matched in races--who was doing classic. I was keeping up, but was working harder than him, and surpsingly he was pulling away on the downhill stretches. The 2nd loop was only 13K, and my quads were getting tighter with every K.

After 2 plus hours on the trail, I was chilled from sweat and a bit hungry, and had left my classic skis and boots in the car. I tried to be efficient, but changing shirts and jacket, warming up the boots with a bathroom hand dryer, and snarfing some soup and energy bars took 25 minutes. By the time I got going with Max again, we had less than an hour to ski 19K. 50K sunrise to sundown wasn't going to happen this year. Classic was definitely much less of a fight than skating, however. Even though I was feeling punchy by the last few Ks, I never bonked.

Ski your age is a fun community event and I especially enjoyed having the family involved. I'm not sure about ever doing mega Ks like some do, and to tell the truth I don't ever plan to do more than 55 or so. Nobody met the sunrise to sunset challenge, but apparently Kramer and Aas were close. Next time, I'll have classic skis and boots on hand for a quick exchange, and I'll figure a way to refuel better without going back inside.


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