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Minnesota Marathoners - Eight Weekend

March 17, 2004

West Yellowstone Rendezvous

By: Justin Pavlish

This weekend our team was once again down to three racers. Pat was out due to his bad chest cold, although he did travel with Dan, Evan, and I to watch and give us feeds during the race. Dan was ready to race, like usual, and I felt like I had rested enough during the week and therefore would be able to ski fast like we did earlier in the season. Evan, on the other hand, started to develop a cold of his own on Friday and was not sure how he would do in the race.

We arrived early Sunday morning with the intention of registering at that time. This was almost disastrous because the race organizers didn't had any more bibs with them, which meant we would not be able to get into the race. Luckily, they allowed us to purchase bibs from a few pre-registered racers who had for some reason or another decided not to show up for the race. With this good news we were soon registered and ready to race.

Eventually, Dan, Evan, and I made our way over to the starting line, which had already begun to fill with anxious 50km and 25km skiers (the 50km and 25km races began at the same time with the 50km racers skiing two 25km loops). Dan was able to sneak up to the front row with the other elite skiers. Evan and I chose to squeeze into the third row. We thought it would be best to put ourselves into a position where we would be forced to start the race a little slower than usual. We both have learned from previous experiences that it is rather easy to accidentally push your body beyond its limits when skiing at high elevations (I believe West Yellowstone is about 6,500 feet above sea level). Therefore, I didn't want to end up losing my breath 5km into the race while following the lead pack.

The start of the race reminded me of the Birkie. With over 100 skiers starting at the same time, dodging other skis and poles becomes your primary concern until everyone begins to spread out. Evan found a lane that was a little more open than mine and was quickly 20 or 30 meters ahead of me after half a kilometer. There were so many bodies between us that I was unable to see Evan. A few seconds later I found him. Somehow he had either tripped or been tripped and I saw him near the side of the trail picking himself off the ground. I hoped he would be able to catch back up to me, but when the trail narrowed at the 1km marker I figured he would have a tough time passing all the skiers that had gotten between us. Unfortunately, I didn't see Evan again until the race was over. At this time in the race the snow was still cold and icy so my skis were flying. I hardly had to work during the first 10km. I was having the time of my life skiing with a long line of racers near the leaders.

At the 13km marker I ran into a little bit of trouble. I had just picked up my pace and climbed past a few skiers on two small hills when I realized the next hill was rather long, maybe half a kilometer. By the time I neared the top I was breathing too hard and my legs were burning. Not long after I reached the top, the skiers I had just passed caught back up to me. Then at approximately 15km, the air began to warm and the icy layer began to brake down into softer granular snow. I was coasting down a nice descent in a tuck when all of a sudden my skis dramatically slowed down in the softer snow at the bottom. My body weight shifted forward and before I knew it I went crashing down on my elbow. While I was picking myself off the ground the line of skiers I was with went cruising by me. I spent the next 20km mostly by myself as I tried to regain at least a little contact with some of the skiers who had passed me. I have to admit that I was a little frustrated with my spill and how my skis where running in the melting snow. We had not anticipated such a fast warm up during the race, so my skis weren't prepped with warm enough wax and structure. At least I wasn't alone. After the race, many other skiers talked about having the same problem.

With 15km left to go the warm snow began to pack down and my skis started running much faster. Delighted with this, I took off with the goal of catching as many people as I possibly could. By the end, I took down six or seven skiers and made up quite a bit of ground on the others who had passed me during my fall. That was definitely my strongest finish so far this season.

Like I said before, I didn't see Evan again until the race was over. He was having trouble with his cold and ended up having to drop out at about 35K.

I don't know how high the air temperature was Sunday, but it must have been over 40°F that afternoon. For the first time I was able to ski a marathon with no hat and my suit sleeves pulled up. The Gold Rush next Sunday in California should also be at least that warm. I'm looking forward to it.


West Yellowstone

By Dan Campbell

Saturday was the Yellowstone Rendezvous, my third marathon with the team. In order to cut down on expenses we didn't drive down to West Yellowstone until Saturday morning at 5:30. The race was two loops around the rendezvous trails; some of them skied backwards to avoid traffic problems. We counted on transformed snow, around -4 C so we waxed with Swix HFBD 7 at home Friday evening. I was a little concerned with the wax, once we arrived at the trailhead and saw the sun baking the trail, but it was too late to change anything. I'm glad we didn't rewax, because the skis were good and the snow in the woods was fresh and dry.

After the cannon was shot to start the race, about 12 of us formed a pack and quickly distanced ourselves from the other skiers. The pace soon slowed and we jockeyed for position amongst the pack. I wasn't feeling particularly good at this point so I welcomed the easy pace. Around 25k, I realized that in an effort to avoid bonking I had drank too much of my hammergel/water concoction. Stopping on the side of the trail would be nice, but no one would wait. On the next downhill I just went. I felt better immediately and now my focus was back on skiing. The lead pack was soon down to eight and with about 10k to go the three of us in the back were dropped. I chased for a short time before feeling like I wouldn't finish if I kept up the current pace. I eased up slightly and made it to the finish in 6th feeling the best I ever have at the end of a marathon. Now I have to consult the other guys about how to do it on 7 days rest.

Dan Campbell: 6th, 2:10
Justin Pavlish: 50th, 2:33
Evan Pengelly: DNF

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