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Minnesota Marathoners - Third Race Weekend

February 12, 2004


Minnesota Marathon Skiers Unite in Mora

By Justin Pavlish

Much like the previous Vasaloppets we have enjoyed, this year's races in Mora proved to be full of high personal expectations and good memories. For the first time this season and the first time in our lives, Dan, Evan, Pat and I were able to race together at the same Nordic skiing event. Being together and not too far away from Hastings also provided our friends and families with the opportunity to watch us race as a complete group and to cheer each of us on to strong finishes. All four of us appreciated the presence of our parents.

Like usual, we arrived Friday afternoon with just enough daylight left to get in one last short workout before the marathon while we checked out the condition of the race course. The warm temperature (20's) of Friday afternoon prevented us from doing any real testing of our race wax options because the forecasted temperature for the start of the 42km classic race was close to 10 °F. However, we were able to note the physical condition of the snow, which was a little abrasive and dry. Our initial glide wax ideas included Swix CH4, LF4, and possibly a combination of Swix LF4 and LF6 if the forecasted temperature remained around 10 °F. While skiing that afternoon, I also discovered that the stiffer of my two pairs of Madshus Hypersonic classic skis was better suited for the condition of the classic tracks (in terms of handling and kick).

Around 6:00 that evening we headed off for the traditional pre-race pasta feed at the American Legion in downtown Mora. I really can't say enough about the people who organize this event every year. It is amazing how efficiently they are able to serve the hundreds of skiers who march into the Legion looking for good spaghetti and lasagna. After the pasta feed we were ready to soak our Madshus skis with generous layers of wax. One last consultation of Saturday morning's forecast allowed Pat, Evan and I to decide that Swix LF4 mixed with a small amount of LF6 was the way to go for glide wax. For the kick wax, we knew that ironing on Swix VG35 binder followed by a couple hand-corked layers of Swix VR30 would give us more than enough kick without sacrificing any of the glide speed we desperately strive to keep for Mora's flat terrain.

Each of us had high expectations for our race results, so Saturday morning couldn't arrive soon enough. Dan and Pat have both been 35km skate champions and I have had three top ten finishes in the 42km classic race. Evan, Pat and I hoped to finish 1-2-3 in our age group in the 42km classic race and Dan was shooting for a strong top ten finish in the 58km skate race.

After the 42km race started, I could tell that my glide and kick wax were performing very well and therefore I was comfortably able to race with the lead pack. At this point in the race the lead pack consisted of approximately 12 skiers, most of whom I have had the pleasure of racing with numerous times over the past five years. Congratulations on your victory in the 35km skate race, Grant! Next year I would like to see you back in the 42km race! We all know each other rather well; so talking during the first few kilometers isn't uncommon. At about four kilometers into the race, Kurt Refsnider asked me how our trip out east to the Craftsbury marathon went. Of course I did my best to explain the race to him as we skied through the quick turns found in the first 10km of the 42km race.

Around the 6km or 7km markers, the leaders picked up the pace again and the lead pack was quickly cut down to eight skiers, with myself hanging on to 8th place and Pat and Evan about five seconds back in 9th and 10th. The rest of the first half of the race was pretty uneventful as most skiers in the lead pack were satisfied with their overall position. Shortly after the beginning of the second half of the race, Pat worked his way back up to the tail end of the pack. From that point on, the old memory of myself struggling to hold on to the rear end of the lead pack returned and I found myself constantly struggling to maintain contact. During the second half of the race, I must have lost and then regained contact with the lead pack at least ten different times. The one part of my skiing that I found to be abnormal was my inability to ski fast and hard though the top portions of the hills. Maybe I was starting to feel the effects of our thousands of miles of driving and two marathons previous to the Vasaloppet.

Overall, I was very satisfied with my performance. For the first time in five years I was able to ski with the lead pack deep into the race. I lost contact with the leaders for the last time at the 36km marker. From there to the finish, I was alone yet I skied hard so my finishing time would be as close to the winner's as possible.

Dan, Pat and I have been training on the Birkie trail in northern Wisconsin since Sunday night and we will be returning there after our race this weekend in Bemidji (the Minnesota Finlandia). Next Thursday and Friday we will be helping Alpina and Madshus at their demo booths before the world famous American Birkebeiner on Saturday. Stop by and say Hi to us!

Pat Lorentz: 7th, 2:20 (42km)
Justin Pavlish: 8th, 2:20 (42km)
Evan Pengelly: 12th, 2:27 (42km)
Dan Campbell: 11th, 2:42 (58km)

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