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Minnesota Marathoners - First Race Weekend

January 25, 2004


Day One: Travel to Lake Placid, New York

By Justin Pavlish

Greetings from New York!

The journey to our first stop on the American Ski Marathon Series, the Lake Placid Loppet, finally began yesterday (Wednesday, Jan. 21st). After loading up the truck and leaving Hastings, we made a quick stop in River Falls, Wisconsin to pick up a very happy Pat Lorentz. I'm sure most of you were not aware that yesterday was Pat's last day of student teaching and therefore the conclusion of his college career. Congrats Pat! After only five and a half years, you finally graduated! To celebrate this feat (and the beginning of our adventure), we stopped at Main Streeters Bar and Grill in downtown River Falls for a few Wednesday night dollar tacos.

The drive last night from River Falls to western New York was fairly quick, which may have been due to a few heavy feet, a tremendous tail wind, and unusually high gas mileage. As best as I can tell, the old '94 Chevy is pulling off 17 mpg. I feel like my truck owes this to me after leaving me stranded in Fargo last Saturday with a non-functioning fuel pump. Our first night of driving was also relatively quiet and resulted in only a couple minor "incidents". The first took place at one of the toll booths along interstate 94 just north of Chicago. Pat introduced Evan and me to the toll booth fire drill which he and his college roommates started last year on their way down to South Beach, Florida for spring break. When you get to a toll booth you hop out of the vehicle and pick up the loose change lying on the ground around the money collection baskets. At one stop I started to jump out of the truck and without realizing it, Pat hit the gas and started rolling again while I was still outside of the truck. Of course Pat got a good laugh out of watching me scramble back into the passenger side of the moving vehicle. The second incident occurred around midnight while we were driving east on interstate 80/94 in Indiana. We had been driving for an abnormally long period of time without stopping for gas when I noticed that a little over 300 miles had gone by (350 miles is the normal full-tank maximum) yet the gas gauge was reading "half-full". Putting the two together, we quickly figured out that a "half-full" gauge reading more closely represents an empty tank. Since then we have disregarded the gas gauge and are focusing on the number of miles driven.

So far, today has consisted of driving and a two hour break at Niagara Falls (Buffalo, NY). This is Pat's, Evan's and my first trip to New York, so we decided we should make the extra effort to see the falls. Those of you that have been there already know that the American and Horseshoe Falls are amazing. Unfortunately, our tail wind blew the mist from the waterfalls straight up into the air, partially blocking the American Falls view and almost all of the Horseshoe Falls view. At least we can say that we have been to Niagara Falls and we took a couple decent pictures.

After leaving Niagara Falls, we cut east across New York to Utica. In Utica you can either drive north along interstate 86 to Lake Placid (via Albany) or you can take the scenic route through the Adirondack Mountains on highway 8. We chose the scenic route. Once we reached the mountains, we soon learned that we had made a mistake. The combination of the lake effect snow and the strong tail wind created blizzard-like conditions and reduced visibility to a few feet. At this point I concluded that northern New York has more snow than Minnesota has seen during the past three years. We quickly decided to drive back to Utica and the safety of interstate 86.

On the way up interstate 86, Evan brought up the idea of stopping in Albany for the night and then continuing on to Lake Placid early Friday morning. After discussing the falling snow, wind, and the fact that we had been traveling for a solid 26 hours, we decided at 8:00 to finish the drive to Lake Placid early tomorrow morning. If any of you happen to make the trip out to Albany, I would recommend eating at the 76 Diner. The homemade cooking was excellent and perfect for hungry skiers.

Our plans for tomorrow include a little training on the Lake Placid Loppet race course and helping the Swix wax techs with a demonstration at the Lake Placid cross country ski center.

Before I go, I would like to thank everyone who has wished us luck either in person while we are out skiing or through email. Your comments are appreciated, so keep it up!


Day Two: Lake Placid Loppet is out, Noquemanon is in!

By Pat Lorentz

This article is for the following people who worked hard for us today to turn a major disappointment into a success story: Peter Hale of Madshus, Roger Knight of Swix USA, the mother and daughter combo at the Lake Placid training center, Jennifer at the Lake Superior Community Center, and Sue of the Noquemanon Ski Marathon.

While day one went by with relative ease, day two was not without major drama. You will have to read this article to believe the topic line and even then you might not believe it.

Evan, Justin, and I woke up at 6:30 this morning to complete our drive to Lake Placid. As it turns out the two hour drive to Lake Placid would just be a warm-up for another long day of driving.

We repacked the trusty pickup, which was starting to look white from the salt rather than its factory green, and were on our way. The drive from Albany up to Lake Placid was nice. The snow had stopped during the night so the visibility and road conditions were good. We got a chance to see the mountains during the drive without battling white out conditions as we had the previous day. The training center for the Lake Placid Loppet was clearly marked from the road and it appeared as though everything was running smoothly. The first indication that today was going to be a challenge came when we had reached the training center parking lot.

As we parked the truck I looked out over the parking lot and noticed that there were only two other cars there besides us. "First ones here I thought," just like in the movie National Lampoons Family Vacation. Evan, Justin, and I were so excited to be at the venue and to finally get out skiing that we didn't think much of the lack of other skiers present. We grabbed our skis and headed to the training center. Evan and I were not more than five steps inside the training center door when Justin said: "Hey guys, look at this." Justin had uncovered Marty Moose, a sign on the back side of the training center stating that the Lake Placid Loppet had been postponed until Feb.7th, the same weekend as the Mora Vasaloppet. Employees at the training center informed us that the postponing of the race was do to USSA and American Ski Marathon Series regulations on the minimum temperature for holding a race over 30 kilometers. The projected high for tomorrow in Lake Placid was two below zero. I was so disappointed, I felt my heart drop, my throat swell up, there was no Marty Moose to punch…..so I kicked Justin in the family allowance instead.

After hanging our heads for a few moments Justin said: "well we might as well go skiing." I replied with: "How far to Noquemanon?" Evan's eyes lighted up, Justin got the dirty smile going and I knew my idea was good to go. We quickly asked this mother and daughter combo that was working in the Lake Placid center, their names I regretfully did not get, and they started going to work. One lady started looking at directions and figuring out if it was doable while the other lady got on the blow horn to someone in Michigan about whether or not they were still going to have the race. I called up Peter Hale of Madshus and told him of our predicament and he went to work on getting us into the Noquemanon from his home in Bozemen, MT. The next call went to Roger Knight of Swix Sports USA and with in a couple of minutes after reaching Roger he was working on looking up who he knew staying in Ishpeming. The mother and daughter combo were back with information….we could make it to Noquemanon before the start of the race if we left now the mother said and the daughter handed us a piece of paper with the name Sue and a phone number on it. "Good luck" the two ladies said as we left the training center.

Evan, Justin, and I packed the skis back into the truck and hit the road while Peter and Roger worked frantically to do a little dance and make a little magic happen. As we headed north to Canada the mood in the vehicle was surprisingly upbeat. We were faced with what we thought would be about a 15 plus hour drive after having driven for 26 hours the previous day. However, we were going to be able to do a marathon on the American Ski Marathon Series….maybe. Being Hastings men means never saying die, never giving in.

After a few hours of driving we reached Ogdenberg, New York, on the U.S.- Canada border. It was time to see how Peter and Roger were doing. Peter had spoke with some race organizers at Noquemanon and had filled them in on our situation. Peter gave the race organizers our race information and hooked us into some race bibs. Roger came back to us with a few contacts for potential places to stay. Peter and Roger don't run the world…..and that is unfortunate. Thanks guys, you really saved us. The only thing left to do was get in touch with Sue, a very resourceful individual working on the Noquemanon race to solidify race details such as the bib pickup location, the start time of the race, where the starting line was located, etc. I tried to call Sue but was only able to get her voice mall. I then called the Lake Superior Community Center and talked to a lady named Jennifer who graciously listened to our sob story. Jennifer took down some of our information and told me to call back in an hour or two. Evan, Justin, and I hit the road again while Jennifer did her best chase down Sue and relay our message. Thank you Jennifer, you kindness made our dream of racing this weekend possible.

And then there was Canada. We caught the first break of the day when we hit Canada. We were able to get across the border with relative easy and found highway 17. Visibility was perfect and we found that the Canadians on this highway liked to drive fast, which worked to our advantage. One more phone call at 6:30 to Sue and we had all the details we needed. Sue told me how to get to Ishpeming, where we might be able to find a place to stay, where we could pick up our race bibs, and how to get to the starting line. Once again the Minnesota Marathon Skiers cashed in on the humanity and hard work of the people in charge of the Noquemanon Ski Marathon. With the last phone call at 6:30 we settled into a driving marathon. Our trusty green pickup has an extended cab allowing for one person to sleep in the back while the other two work to keep each other awake while making long driving pulls. With a little coffee, some good tunes, and the best upbeat positive attitude we could muster we put hundreds of miles behind us.


Day 3: 51 Kilometer Race - 0 hours sleep

By Evan Pengelly

We didn't encounter any problems in Canada and the rest of our trip through the country to the north was smooth sailing. After a short stop by the border patrol it looked like our travels were near a conclusion. We only had another 150 miles to drive to Marquette and it was 2:00a.m. This meant we could potentially get 3 hours or so of sleep before we had to get up for the race. Unfortunately, sleep never became an option.

Shortly after arriving in Michigan we ran into some pretty difficult weather. I sat in the passenger seat and tried not to look as Pat crawled along at 40 mph in 5 foot visibility. Forty mph probably doesn't seem very fast, but when your visibility is five feet in front of your face it feels liked you're doing 90. We did finally manage to make it to Marquette, however at this point it was more like 7:30. We raced into the bib pick-up introduced ourselves to Sue and she sent us off with our bibs. (Thanks again Sue and the rest of the Noquemanon staff members who helped us, great race!) From there we drove the 13 miles to the start of the race, quickly waxed up our skis with Swix CH 4, got dressed and raced to the start line. We managed to get up to the line with 3 minutes to go before the start.

Being that we had driven over 40 hours and gotten maybe 8 hours of sleep in the past two days, we weren't exactly ready to throw down for this race. We took it easy from the start and skied most of the entire race together stopping at each feed station and talking along the way. I thought the scenery here at the Noquemanon was awesome. Usually your attention is focused on the trail ahead and you can't appreciate what's around you; it was neat to be able to take a good look at the surroundings that make the Noquemanon such a great race.

All in all I would say it was a long, tiring, difficult, but rewarding last minute trip. I also would like to thank everyone who helped to make these last minute plans work and I would recommend coming out here to try out the Noquemanon when you have the chance.

Pat Lorentz: 65th, 3:19
Evan Pengelly: 71st, 3:21
Justin Pavlish: 72nd, 3:21

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