Monday, March 16, 2009

Frozen Solid on the Sonot Trail (race report)

The race itself was just a frigid blur, but the time seemed to go by fast even though I was 25 min slower than last year and was miserable almost every stride of the way,

Tyson Flaharty took off like a rocket and was gone up the first hill. Game set match. Race over. Apparently Davya Flaharty, did the same thing in the women’s race.

In our race, a pack of 5 or 6 skiers congealed and I tucked in behind them for less than 1K, before settling into my own pace. Then I played a game of cat & mouse with Bruce Miller who was skiing classic. Through most of the first 12K we see-sawed back and forth, staying within 100 meters or so. But he pulled way at about 14K, and I was resigned to 8th place, with Max Kaufman and an Anchorage skier about a minute or two ahead, respectively.

At the same time I was heading into the Warm-Up Loop at 15K, Mike Kramer, Dave Arvey and the Norwegian ringer, Tore Olsen were in a tight pack cresting the hill and entering the stadium area. That was the last I saw of them, but former World Cup skier (who boasts a top 20 finish, some 7-8 years ago) Olsen pulled away to finish in 2:29 to Arvey’s 2:31 and Kramer’s 2:32.

Coming into the stadium for my own lap, I shifted into a V2, a rare treat for this cold-slow day where almost everything was V1 (I did some marathon skating, with one ski in the track). At the lap, Bruce inexplicably pulled out of the race—he had been doing so well with the classic too!

Into the Black Loops, the hardest 10K of the course, where it’s dark, shady, and the snow was beyond slow—more like miserable sandpaper—and the hills are numerous and steep. The cognoscenti say that under no circumstances should a skier single stick stake (granny skate) at Birch Hill. Normally I don’t need to, but on Saturday up the steep climbs on Black Cross and Competition that’s what I did. Call me a wimp if you will, but it seemed more energy efficient than grinding up with a V1.

Caught Mr. Anchorage on Black Cross and we dueled it out for the next 8-10K, while slowly reeling Max into contact. But on Rollercoasters and White Bear, with about 12 K to go, he picked it up with some great transition-downhill skiing and caught Max at the Biathlon Range. At the far end of White Bear, just before the big hill a 200’ grinder, I caught also Max and started pulling away, hoping per chance that Mr. Anchorage, about 40 seconds up, would bonk.

Well, it was me who bonked half way up the hill at 36K. The rest of the race was a just a slow, wintery, and wobbly death march to the finish. By the top of the hill I had a good 30-40 sec on Max, after that but he whittled it down. I could barely stand going up the last hill on Warm Up. Into the stadium with 200 m to go Max was less than 20 m back and I was sure he’d take me down. We were punch drunk and frozen. But somehow I mustered enough energy to finish in 2:39:59, 12 seconds up.

I bent over and about collapsed. Race director Bad Bob, taking the day off from racing to keep things going well (which they did except for the weather), pinched my butt—Hey aren’t there laws against that kind of stuff!—and asked how’d it go?

IT SUCKED! Was all I could muster.
“Oh then, it must have been a good day out there,” he glibly replied.

Overall, it was probably as good as could be expected—maybe even better for me than the Tour, but it was not fun. I did not enjoy this year’s Sonot very much. Nevertheless, sometimes you just have to suck it up.

So let’s conclude with a list of those who, “sucked it up” and raced the two marathons, 6 days apart. Congrats to all of you!
Name Tour, Sonot, (Combined)
Tyson Flaharty 2:15:16, 2:15:06, (4:30:22)
Dave Arvey 2:23:53, 2:31:11, (4:55:04)
Chet Fehrmann 2:23:31, 2:35:15, (4:58:46)
Roger Sayre 2:34:37, 2:39:59, (5:14:36)
Max Kaufman 2:35:54, 2:40:12, (5:16:06)
Bill Pearson 2:31:17, 2:45:36, (5:16:53)
Ken Leary 2:40:47, 2:50:51, (5:31:38)
Rick Johnson 2:51:02, 3:11:06, (6:02:08)
Chris Puchner 3:29:37, 3:43:07, (7:12:44)
Tim Mowry 3:40:16, 4:40:34, (8:20:50)

Davya Flaharty 2:51:29 3:06:40, (5:58:09)
Jane Leblond 3:01:44 3:20:30, (6:22:14)


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