Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sonot 2009 Not So Fun

Sonot Kkazoot in Athabaskan means sliding on the snow in sping. It was anything but that this year. Normally this race is held on the weekend of the spring equinox, but due to some scheduling conflicts with dog mushing (Alaska’s number one sport) and the USSA Senior/Distance Nationals to be held here later this month, the race was pushed up a week. I balked when I saw the schedule, way back in November, because the race would be only 6 days after the Tour of Anchorage 50K. The club’s competition director, who is pretty much the Nordic decider here just said, “suck it up.”

Indeed, Mr. CD, I did suck it up and finished 6th, my highest placing for this race. I knew that the double would be tough. But it was not fun. That’s neither here nor there because the biggest detractor was beyond anyone’s control. It was cold.

How cold? So cold that:

• My wax test was a joke—glide, what glide? I needed a push to even start sliding down stadium hill, and it turned out that each run netted less glide than the previous. (I went with TOKO LF Blue with cold powder).

• Our thermometer was only -12 an hour and a half before the start; by race time at Birch hill it was about -5.

• Not only did the snow crunch and squeak like Styrofoam, sending those chills down your spine, the sound echoed from the trail surface to the ground and back. A hollow scraping sound with every stride.

• I covered my cheeks and nose with Duct tape to avoid frostbite. I still ended up with frostbite on my face.

• My sport drink froze within an hour (but I did get an exchange right then from my lovely wife).

• Even though I had Gu packets stapled to the seam of my racing suit, the honey like substance froze up and I had to actually bite and chew little bits at time rather than gulp it down in one lap of the tongue.

• Meanwhile, because I couldn’t get all the Gu out and had to carry the packet for a half K, the residual portions stuck to my gloves, which stuck to my poles.

It was that cold, and more. But I finished. (part II a blow by blow account follows)


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