A Winter of New Racing Adventures - By
This Winter, Neil and Kate and I have been expanding our ski
horizons. My decision to put my running goals on hold for a
bit and switch my focus to ski racing has been extremely rewarding.
I have been skiing my entire life, but have only raced ‘recreationally’.
Neil, on the other hand, raced through high school and university,
but stopped racing once he hit ‘adulthood’. This
winter he re-discovered the ski racing bug. Kate has been racing,
running and skiing from the age of 2, but this year was her
first foray into the Ontario Cup level.
Kate met many goals and personal bests (PBs) in the Ontario
Cup series this winter, and even competed in her first high
school OFSAA Championships, placing 30th of 130 racers. Neil
and I joined the Ontario Masters Race Circuit, competing in
more than 5 races the past 2 months. We’ve travelled to
many new trails, including North Bay, Parry Sound and Timmins,
and discovered a lot of hidden ski treasures along the way.
Last weekend, fresh off the Masters Championships in North
Bay, Neil and Kate and I travelled to Timmins for another race
weekend. We had visited Timmins in February with Kate for the
OFSAA Championships and were super impressed with the Porcupine
Ski Runner trails. Making the decision to head back up for the
loppet was an easy one. The Porcupine Loppet included both classic
and skate races in distances of 10km, 17km, 23km and 46km. Kate
signed up for the 10km (a new distance for her), Neil the 23km
and I opted for the long haul – 46km.
Race day was perfect weather, a bit cold to start (-15), but
quickly warming up to -12. The 46k’rs started just over
an hour ahead of the rest of the racers. It was a quite start
line for me, with only 6 of us, and I was the only woman. No
issue finding my space along the trails with such a small crew.
Kate and Neil had a much larger crowd to deal with, over 50
skiers starting together. Kate made a clean start, quickly finding
her groove. Neil, unfortunately, met with a battle through the
first kilometre. A group of younger skiers raced out of the
start line just ahead of the gun. This left Neil and a few other
fast skiers who actually waited for the gun, having to battle
their way through the crowd of false starters. After a few attempts
to get by this group, Neil jumped into the classic track to
double pole around. One of the skiers jumped into the track
directly in front of Neil, and forced Neil into a crash. Sadly,
Neil’s pole didn’t survive the crash. It was a very
quick end to his 23k race, very disappointing.
Kate, however, had an amazing race, staying strong throughout
the 10k. She even acted at a ‘pace bunny’ for one
of the faster classic racers. There is nothing more rewarding
than having a good race to finish off the season. I, too, had
a successful race. This was my first time racing this distance,
the longest I’ve raced is 30k. I was a bit worried about
‘bonking’, and really worked at keeping myself fueled.
The efforts paid off, and I even negative split the second lap
(2 laps of a 23k course) by 5 minutes. Racing a long distance
has different challenges than shorter races, but one of the
benefits is that the slower pace means you can actually ‘enjoy’
your scenery. The Timmins trails were a pure joy for me to race
With our ski race season quickly ending, we are all shifting
over to running again. For me, Around the Bay is a short 3 weeks
away – yikes! The break from running has been an amazing
experience for me, and I’ve discovered a new passion for
ski racing. Trying new things is an awesome way to renew your
passion for what you love, and may even ignite a new passion.
Putting yourself outside your comfort zone is how you grow!