Minnesota Marathoners - Fifth Race Weekend
February 24, 2004
By Dan Campbell
Wednesday afternoon Pat, Justin, Evan and I drove to Seeley,
Wisconsin to begin preparations for this year's Birkie. We
stayed at the Lenroot Lodge, just off of Hwy OO, which was
very convenient for last minute course inspection and training.
Outside of our room, Madshus had a mobile wax trailer and
Zach Caldwell had set up his stone grinding operation. I had
heard that Zach had a grind that would definitely work for
our current snow conditions (near freezing temperatures and
fresh snow). I was skeptical about getting a new grind the
day before the race, but Zach promised the skis would be race
ready after grinding and some time in the hotbox. I tested
skis just before the start and sure enough the new grind was
the best I had. After duct taping my suit to please the FIS
and standing at the start for what seemed like half an hour
we were off. We skied at my 10k pace for the first 8k and
I wondered if we were ever going to let up. I was already
in a pack of 8 good skiers and we worked together until 20k
when I tried to lead them to a pack 45 seconds ahead of us.
I caught this pack after about 3k skiing on my own and joined
in at the back. I wasn't skiing all that well, but my skis
were keeping me in contact with this group. This was fine
until they decided to ski faster with 10k to go. I ended up
skiing with another guy who had been dropped from the pack,
and just before we got to the lake Chad Giese and 2 other
skiers caught us. This isn't the worst place to be caught
at the Birkie, since skiing into the wind on the lake is pretty
harsh. Our group made it across the lake without getting caught
by anyone else and now it was time to get into sprint mode.
I tried to fool myself into thinking I could take the sprint
for 21st place, then halfway up main street my thighs cramped
up and it was up to my arms to save me, they couldn't and
I ended up in 24th.
After the race we were treated to fruit and chicken noodle
soup and everyone enjoyed the warmth of the changing tent.
Once we had changed clothes and eaten, it was off to the Moccasin
bar for a "team meeting" and then back home to the
Lenroot for a nap. We knew the Sawmill in Seeley was the place
to be on Saturday night, and our team was fortunate enough
to be staying across the parking lot from it. Live music from
the band Elijah and the Powerhouse filled the place and we
couldn't help but dance. It was a great time to hear race
stories from all sorts of skiers, like our friend Chipper
from West Virginia. He tried to talk us into taking a detour
on our trip and visiting his ski center, White Grass, but
I don't think that it's on the way to Bozeman.
By Evan Pengelly
Wednesday afternoon the MNMarathon group and I drove up early
to the Birkie so we could ski some of the course and help
out our sponsors at the booths. It's been nearly a decade
since I came up and raced the Korteloppet early in high school,
and I've wanted to come back. I never had a chance to race
with indoor track taking up all of my time in college and
the fact that I wasn't skiing at all.
Wednesday was my first time back on the Birkie trails and
I knew that this would be a fairly challenging course. After
not finishing the Finlandia the previous weekend I was anxious
for a chance to redeem myself and have another good race.
So far I haven't quite had the results I was hoping for this
season, however I feel like the fact that I took nearly 5
½ years off from skiing and now I'm back and racing
fairly competitively, is a pretty big accomplishment in itself.
After skiing the trails at Hwy OO we got our rooms at the
Lenroot Lodge. Many of you probably noticed the banners that
were next to the Highway. Alpina/Madsus had arranged for the
team to stay at the lodge and they brought in a trailer for
us to wax inside. Zach Caldwell also was there with his stone
grinding truck, I'm not sure how he got everything done with
all of the traffic going in and out of his truck, but he worked
around the clock and definitely was a great help to the Alipna/Madshus
team and many others. Riverbrooke was located directly below
us and they were swamped from morning to evening each day.
With so much going on it wasn't hard to get pumped for my
biggest race of the year.
The next day went by with Justin, Dan, and I spending time
helping Peter Hale out at the Alpina/Madshus/Rotteffella demo
Thursday afternoon, and that night Justin and I came inside
and helped out Roger Knight at the Swix booth, and Justin
Morini at the Alpina/Madshus booth.
Friday we were feeling pretty worn out from standing around
the previous day so we relaxed in our room and went out for
one last look at the course. That afternoon as I was waxing
up my skis I started talking to Dan about what to do with
my skis the following day. We got into a discussion about
structure and Dan quickly convinced me that it would be in
my best interest to go next door and see if Zach could still
grind my skis. He said that he could get them done that night
which amazed me with the amount of work he had to do. After
that all I needed to do was get some rest.
We woke up race day morning to find out that Peter and Zach
had stayed up the entire night waxing skis, it paid off. Right
from the start of the race my skis were moving good. I felt
ok for the first 15km or so and I skied that part with Justin.
Around 17 or 19K I started feeling crappy though, and I lost.
I kept up pace until about 35K when I started really feeling
bad. I had people passing me by the dozen, and when I finally
did drag myself across the finish line I had really lost a
lot of people in just 15K. Overall I finished 329th which
wasn't quite what I wanted, but it was still a great experience.
I just want to thank all of our sponsors and everyone who
helped out. Thanks Peter Hale, Justin Morini, Roger Knight,
Zach Caldwell, and Frank Rorvic. It was my first Birkie and
I'll definitely be back next year to do another.
Bananas For The Birke
By Pat Lorentz
It has been a few weeks since my last report so let me recap.
It was cold in Mora, but the Vasaloppet went pretty well.
We picked up Dan Campbell from Hastings and he has been traveling
with us since. It is really nice to have Dan traveling with
us, he really changes and liven-ups our group dynamics. Being
at home also let us get some much needed away time from each
other as well. Evan and Justin are two of my best friends
but after being with them for every second of every day for
the past three weeks it felt good to do my own thing for a
day or two. For those that our wondering, we only had to pull
over 3 times while on the road to kick the crap out of each
other. Nothing but drop- kicks and hay-makers.
Back to Mora, I have been doing the Vasaloppet for the last
six years and yet each year I go to the race I am surprised
at how well this race is run. From the bib pick-up, to the
grooming, to the best awards ceremony around this race always
satisfies. After filling up at the VFW's speghitti diner the
four of us started waxing. We went with Swix LF 4 mixed with
Swix LF 6 for glide. For kick we used some Swix base wax ironed
in covered with Swix VR 30. We got to the start early. I got
a nice spot on the front line and was able to get out clean.
I hooked on to the lead pack right from the start and fought
the first 40K of the race to stay on the back of the lead
pack. About 10K into the race I could feel my triceps start
to tighten up and I knew it would be hard to stay with the
leaders. A number of times during the race I fell off of the
back of the pack and would have to work hard for a number
of kilometers to catch back up. After a short hour and half
meeting with my parents two nights before the race I had them
confident in their ability to give me a feed. I picked up
a feed from them at about 15K and had a chuckle at them all
bundled up. At 40K the leaders made a move and I couldn't
respond. I ended up seventh overall, a solid race. Congrats
to Piotr for the big win, I was hoping he would pull it out.
The Finlandia was extremely cold, nine below zero at the
start. Perhaps it was the cold weather or maybe it was because
of the Hallmark holiday Valentines Days that the race field
was a little thin. I got out with the leaders but soon realized
that I didn't feel up to par. I only made it to about 7K with
the lead pack. I ended up skiing the last 43K of the race
by myself in a cold daze. After the race we had some home
made soup and bagels which really hit the spot. We jumped
back into our vehicles and headed home. We got back to Hastings
about 9 pm and although I was quite tired I decided that since
it was Valentines Day I could not sit at home. I got cleaned
up and headed over to college (River Falls). I was pleased
to find my old roommates/teammates hanging out at the UWRF
cross country house and soon settled in amongst my brothers
and sisters. We explored a few of the local establishments
in search of some good music, good times, and lonely hearts.
I always enjoy catching up with my family in River Falls.
And then there was the Birkie. The Alpina/Madshus Team had
booked the Lenroot Lodge for Birkie week and what a treat
it was. The Lenroot is a new lodge located just a few hundred
feet behind the Sawmill Saloon. We had our own wax trailer
and wax techs. in Peter Hale and Zach Coldwell. Evan, Justin,
Dan, and I were able to get out and help some of our sponsors
(Alpina, Madshus, Rottefella, and Swix) at the Birkie demos.
The night before the race the four of us hit up the Telmark
Lodge for a pasta feed and then retired to the Lenroot. Peter
took our skis and started waxing for us at about 10 pm. The
next morning as we were getting ready to head to the start
I looked over at the wax trailer and their stood Peter in
a cloud of wax dust and particles putting on last minute touches.
As it turned out Peter never went to bed, he stayed up all
night waxing for us. A very special thanks to Peter Hale,
he busts his ass for our team.
Once we got to the start it was time to warm-up and test
skis. The testing was easy, in fact I only tested one pair
of skis and they felt so good I did not have to worry about
skis or wax. I ended up running on a soft track Madshus ski
with Swix HFBD 7 covered with Swix FC 7 and I can honestly
say that no one I skied with during the race had better skis
then me. With about ten minutes to the start of the race I
headed for the opening gates. I had turned my red, white,
and black Alpina/Madshus suit inside-out so that the logos
could not be read. As a result I ended up skiing in a suit
that looked like it was pink. When I got up to the ski check
in some lady pulled me over to the side and said she didn't
think my suit was legal the way I was wearing it because you
could faintly see the logos. She called over some guy who
had a piece of paper with a few cut outs on it. He placed
the sheet of paper over the logos and a couple of them appeared
to be too big. I looked at the guy and said: "Come on
man, I got the suit inside out, the logos are backwards and
you can barely see them." I then pleaded: "I only
have five minutes to the start of the race." He shrugged
his shoulders and said: "Ok, go ahead." God bless
I took to the starting line a bit further back that I would
have liked to due the pink panther racing suit complex. Later
a number of people including Dan and Evan's parents told me
that they thought that they saw me go by but didn't cheer
because they couldn't believe I would be wearing a pink suit.
Anyway, the gun went off and I got out conservatively. There
were a number of skiers thrashing and breaking poles and going
down so I just did my best to protect my equipment and hold
my position. It only took a few k's for me to figure out that
I was not feeling good. Early in the race I tried to ski with
skinnyskis Dave Nelson but I couldn't keep up. Shortly thereafter
Per Nelson of the skinnyski racing team caught up to me and
tried to encourage me to go with him. I told him I wasn't
feeling good and he said it was a long race and that I could
come around. As it turned out he was exactly right. I tried
to go with Per but that was not happening either. By ten kilometers
my legs were really starting to lock up and I was not sure
if I would even make it. Tons of people passed me and I was
going so slow I couldn't get out of my own way. The one thing
I had going for myself was my skis were really rocking and
that allowed me to recover on slight down hills.
At about 15 kilometers Mike Treker of Aspen, CO. caught me.
Mike skis for Alpina/Madshus and seeing him in the familiar
red Alpina suit was very welcoming for me. Treker yelled at
me as he got up along side of me. He said: "Come on Pat,
lets go." I remember not feeling well at this point in
the race but I thought to myself that if I don't go with Mike
I am going to end up skiing this whole race by myself. So
I tucked in behind Treker and followed his lead. Treker and
I picked up a number of feeds from Peter Hale who was somehow
still standing, Justin of Alpina, and Ole an Alpina/Madshus
fan and husband of Sara Konrad. I skied with Mike for quite
some time and then between 30 and 35 kilometers I all of a
sudden started feeling good. I started picking up the pace
and soon I was catching packs of skiers. Every kilometer after
35 I felt better than the previous and I kept passing people.
I stomped right up bitch hill at 42K and I remember wishing
that the race would be 70 kilometers long instead of 50. I
got out onto the lake and V2 into the wind passing more people.
It felt great to sprint down main street and as I dashed towards
the finish line I heard one guy yelling: "Go Pat."
It turns out that the one guy that recognized me in the pink
panther suit was a fellow co-worker of mine, Chris Crowe,
during my student teaching position this fall. I ended up
skiing the Birkie in 2 hours 39 minutes which was good enough
for 160th. I kept my elite wave starting spot for next year,
something I was not sure was going to happen 10K into the
Later in the evening a bunch of the Alpina/Madshus gang headed
down to the Sawmill Saloon to exchange war stories with other
skiers and enjoy some fellowship. We were able to listen to
so quality live music and enjoy the dancing skills of Cory
Wubbels. Tomorrow Dan and I will pack up his truck and head
to Bozeman to start trying to get ready for the races out
west. A special thanks to Peter, Justin, and Frank Rorvic
of Alpina/Madshus, all of the Alpina/Madshus racers, Zach
Coldwell of Engineering Tuning, Chipper Chase of White Grass
Ski Ranch, the race volunteers, and the community of Hayward.
And finally, thanks to all the skiers who have followed us
and supported us through our trip thus far.
*ski with red!!