Minnesota Marathoners - Seventh Weekend
March 11, 2004
Tour of Anchorage
By Justin Pavlish
Like most of our other race weekends, this one began with
a large amount of pre-race traveling. Fortunately, only about
15 miles of it was in my truck with myself as the driver and
one of the other guys acting as a navigator. The other 1000+
miles from Bozeman's Gallatin Field to Anchorage was taken
care of by the pilots and copilots of the airplanes Pat and
I flew in. For the first time, we had the luxury of sitting
back and relaxing while someone else brought us to the next
ASM race. After flying for most of the day Pat and I arrived
in Anchorage late Thursday afternoon and were followed shortly
thereafter by Evan who was on a different flight out of Bozeman.
As luck would have it, all of our bags and skis arrived at
the same time we did without any mysterious damage.
Also much like most of our other race weekends, Peter Hale
of Alpina/Madshus came through for us in the days leading
up to the race and found us a friend to stay with while we
were in Anchorage. That friend was Tobias Schwoerer, who skied
for the University of Anchorage and now skis for Alpina/Madshus.
With Peter's help and Tobias' generosity, we had an excellent
location for relaxing and waxing prior to the Tour of Anchorage.
Arriving in Anchorage late on Thursday only allowed us to
have two days to ski and look over the racecourse before Sunday.
Friday we chose to ski the first portion of the course, and
left the finish for Saturday. Much like we had heard from
others who had skied the Tour of Anchorage before us, the
first 10km has several challenging climbs before settling
into the slightly rolling and flat terrain found throughout
the remainder of the 50km racecourse. We decided that we should
take the first 10km a little conservatively and then pick
up the pace once we made it through to the flatter sections.
After five marathons in six weekends, all of us are starting
to feel a little worn out so we definitely didn't want to
blow all of our steam at the beginning of the race.
On Saturday we took off from Tobias' place to check out the
last 10km. Unfortunately, we never made it to the finish line.
A bull moose who decided to lie down and rest on the middle
of the trail stopped us about 6km from the end. This was only
the second time I have seen a moose (the first was on Thursday
night when we saw one walking down the street near Tobias'
house) so we had no idea if we could approach it or how aggressive
it would be if we tried. Taking advice from a couple locals
who were also skiing that part of the trail, we decided to
turn around and ski back the way we came. That night we sat
around Tobias', filled up on pasta and cookies, and waxed
our skis for the race. Most of the racecourse was covered
with a base layer of old, dirty snow and a two-inch layer
of fresh snow that was mixed with the old once the trail was
groomed Friday night. The air temperature reached the 30's
on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so there was quite a bit
of moisture in the snow pack. With this moisture and the dirty
snow in mind, we dug through our wax boxes and chose to use
Swix HFBD 6 mixed with a little Swix LF 4 (the temperature
during the race was forecasted to be between 10 and 15 degrees).
We would have used Swix HFBD 4 instead of the LF 4, but we
didn't have any with us in Anchorage.
Sunday morning Tobias took us to the start of the race a
little early because we had yet to pick up our race bibs.
While Pat, Evan, and I were doing this we had the chance to
meet the race director, P.J. Hill. I would have to say that
P.J. is definitely the brains behind the Tour of Anchorage
operation and he does an excellent job getting the course
ready and the race off to a smooth start. As busy as he is,
he also takes the time to meet and greet the competitors and
he takes care of any concerns that arise prior to the race.
In fact, P.J. personally made sure we were entered into the
first wave even though he received our registration forms
only three days prior to the start. Thanks again P.J.!
The race itself was one of the finest on the series. After
the first 10km, the race enters Anchorage and travels along
bike trails, through city parks, and around private residences.
The middle 30km of the trail was consistently lined with spectators
and ski fans. I have never before seen this much support during
the middle of a marathon ski race. Obviously I would recommend
the Tour of Anchorage to anyone considering the trip.
As much as I enjoyed the racecourse, I did not finish exactly
where I wanted. I was able to join a group of three other
skiers that broke away from a larger group that contained
Pat and Evan about half way through the race. We kept the
pace up and widened the gap to about three or four minutes,
but with less than 20km's to go I fell off the pace and lost
them. From there, I struggled to keep a decent speed going
and as many skiers behind me as possible. By the time I reached
the 45km marker, I had completely bonked. I could hardly ski,
let alone keep people from passing me. With 2.5km to go, Pat
caught me and gave me the rest of the HammerGel/water mixture
in his water bottle. After a minute rest, we took off for
the finish line. I don't know how I looked from there on,
but I imagine my technique wasn't pretty. Maybe next year
I will hold myself together better.
Pat Lorentz: 27th out of 253, 2:38
Justin Pavlish: 29th, 2:39
Evan Pengelly: 44th, 2:44
Tour Of Anchorage
My Last Race??
By Pat Lorentz
Justin and I loaded a plane in Bozeman last Thursday morning
followed shortly after by Evan, in pursuit of our sixth marathon,
the Tour of Anchorage. Before flying to Anchorage, however,
we had a two-hour layover in Salt Lake City. While in the
airport Justin and I decided to buy a couple of books for
the flight to Anchorage. I picked up a book called "It's
Not About My Bike, My Journey Back To Life" by Lance
Armstrong. I read the book for the entire five-hour flight
except for the times when the turbulence was so great that
I could not hold the book steady. Armstrong's book is very
motivational and I would highly recommend it to anyone, athlete
I knew that I had arrived in Alaska when on the way to Tobias's
house I ran into a large moose walking down the middle of
the road. The moose looked at the car and slowly lumbered
into a nearby front yard. He grazed on the homeowners trees
while we took pictures of him. When we got to Toby's house
he told us that the moose are all around Anchorage. Later
in the week we had to cut our workout short because we ran
into one on the ski trails. I found Anchorage to be a beautiful
city, something every outdoor enthusiast should check out.
Anchorage has everything, to the west you can look out over
the ocean and if you turn to the east you see mountains. To
the north of the city is Mount McKinley.
On Friday we checked out the first 10K of the ski trail late
in the afternoon. As I was standing about a third of the way
up this mountain we were skiing on I looked to the west and
watched the sun set. At the same time I could look over my
other shoulder and see a full moon equally high in the sky.
I had never seen anything like this before, it was like the
sun and the moon were facing off for a showdown. It was just
On Saturday morning Evan, Justin, and I went to downtown
Anchorage for the ceremonial start of the Iditarod. I have
never been to a dog sled race before but I have always been
interested in dog sled racing. If I had more time and any
money I would think about getting into dog sled racing, but
as it turns out I can only feed the Nordic ski habit at present.
At the start line we were greeted by hundreds of people and
the howling of some very excited sled dogs. One-by-one the
teams left Anchorage waving to the people lining the streets.
That evening we just layed low, waxing and eating, the usual
night before the race routine.
Race day came and the weather was quite nice, mid-twenties
and clear skies. Evan, Justin, and I warmed-up and took to
the start line. My plan was to take the first ten kilometers,
the hilly section, easy and then work from there. All three
of us got out of the start clean and soon we tucked into a
nice pack, somewhere in the teens. I just tried to stay smooth
on the skis and not work too hard. Just before the start of
the first set of climbs I took the lead so I could control
the pace. I was worried that Evan and Justin would ski the
hills harder than I liked and I did not want to lose them
early in the race. I took the hills very easy and was a little
surprised that nobody tried to take the lead. As we started
our descent from the mountain some of the skiers in our pack
started making pulls and trying to break up the group a little.
Evan, Justin, and I stuck with a group of about eight other
skiers. Evan and Justin took a few pulls at the front and
I noticed the pace pick-up every time they pulled. I hung
out at the back of the pack just trying to stay relaxed and
ski easy. Around 15K there was a right turn on a downhill,
nothing too difficult, but as I went into the turn another
guy in our pack ran over my skis trying to cut the corner
tight. I went down and had to work for about 5K to catch the
pack again. Just as I caught up to the group Evan was dropping
off the pack, stating that his legs were cramping up. Justin
kept skiing at the front of the pack and pulling and he was
doing some damage to the rest of the group. A few guys could
not handle the pace and dropped off.
At 25K or so there is a fairly tricky s-turn. It would not
have been so bad but the tour skiers in the earlier races
had snow plowed the turn down to solid ice. I did my best
to stay on top of my skis but to no avail. This time when
I got up I had lost some of my motivation. I lost sight of
the pack and it didn't look like I would be able to reel them
back in. I skied easy for about a kilometer a little pissed
at the two spills I had taken and then I decided that it would
be a long race if I didn't snap out of it. I decided that
I would ski the best I could and hope that some of the guys
would come back to me. I skied by myself for a long time.
Skied over highways and under tunnels with the mountains and
the ocean in the background. At about 35K there was a long
open stretch, I looked up and could just barely see the pack
I had been skiing with, they looked like ants chasing each
other. At 40K I started to fell pretty tired but kept my head
up and looked for anyone falling back. By 45K I was starting
to get real tired. My legs were starting to cramp every so
often and I noticed that I was starting to get real hungry.
At 47K I looked up and I thought I saw a red suit and white
hat. Is that Justin? I squinted as hard as I could but I still
could not tell. That cannot be him I thought, but as I got
closer I realized it was him. I picked up the pace as best
I could to get up to him and at first I thought about just
blowing by him. I was thinking when I caught him I would say:
"Guess who's back, back again, Lorentz is back, tell
a friend." But when I got up along side of Justin I could
tell he was really hurting. He had that dead man's gaze in
his eyes and I knew he needed some help. I asked him how he
was doing. He said: "Do you have drink," pointing
to my water bottle. I stopped in the middle of the trail and
gave him my water bottle. He drank and then I did. I told
him to hang in there and then went on my way. I finished in
27th place overall (out of 253), not too bad, but the real
excitement was our Alpina/Madshus teammate Tobias had won
That night Tobias, Evan, Justin, and I went to the award
ceremony and then to a local establishment with skiers from
the other ski teams (Subaru, Rossi, etc.). We told some war
stories and enjoyed the hospitality of the locals. All in
all I would rate this race at the top of the races we have
done thus far. I strongly recommend checking out this race.
And then there was the title. Evan, Justin, and I got back
into Bozeman late Monday night. Tuesday morning I woke up
with a sore throat and a stuffed up nose. Wednesday my throat
got a little worse. This morning I started coughing up green
bile from my lungs. I figure it is either a sinus infection
or a lung infection. As of Thursday night I am about 95 percent
sure I will not be doing Yellowstone this weekend. If I wake
up Saturday morning and I feel great I will ski the race easy,
but right now it's not looking too good. I said in my first
write about this trip that the key would be to stay healthy.
I almost always get sick once a winter, in a way I am surprised
I did not get sick earlier. I did race once before when I
was this sick. Three years ago at the Birke I was coughing
crap up and felt awful. I decided since it was the last race
in the season I would tough it out and do it. After the race
I had to get escorted to the first aid tents, the only time
that has happen to me. I was sick on and off the rest of that
spring, summer, and into the fall. This fact is weighing heavy
on my mind because should I decided to do the race and have
the same health problems afterwards it is going to be a serious
financial burden on me. Three years ago I was a college student
with full medical coverage under my parents, today I have
my own insurance with a deductible that is high enough to
be of help if I die basically. Insurance, God bless it.
I started this trip out with one simple goal for myself,
finish each race. However, I also have another code I hold
myself too. In the ten years I have been racing I have done
hundreds of running and ski races and no matter how bad I
have hurt in a race I have never dropped out, ever. For right
now I just hope I can get healthy soon and be prepared for
the Gold Rush. Well that is about all for now, thanks to our
sponsors: Alpina, Madshus, Rottefella, and Swix. Thanks to
PJ Hill in Anchorage for letting us into the race and to Tobias
for letting Evan, Justin, and I crash with him. And finally,
thanks to our fans who have followed us all along. Take care,
*ski with red!