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High School

Minnesota Marathoners - Fifth Race Weekend

February 24, 2004

American Birkebeiner

Campbell's Story

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.


First Birkie

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 the FIS.

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 race.

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.
Take care,

*ski with red!!

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