Skinnyski Race Team Weekend Recap
By Bruce Adelsman
February 18, 2003
After the cancellation of the Minnesota Finlandia, last weekend
had more an air of low-key racing as most skiers did their
final racing before the Birkie. Dave Nelson and Jill Troutner
joined the big metro crowd for the 10K Snowflake race in Osseo,
MN. Nearly 200 top metro and national skiers competed in this
fun romp around the Elm Creek trail system. Meanwhile, Brian
May and Grant Nelson were putting in a short race at the Brule
River Timber Cruise in NW Wisconsin. All of them had some
great final tune-ups.
Wave 2 heading out at the Snowflake
Grant Nelson has provided a race summary on the new Timber
Cruise race, and in a depature from the normal race summaries,
Jay Richards, Brian May and Grant Nelson have sent in some
helpful insights on their final Birkie preparations.
Race Team Results
February 15, 2003 Brule River Timber Cruise
Brian May 1st overall 16K Freestyle
Grant Nelson 2nd overall 16K Freestyle
February 15, 2003 Snowflake Race
Jill Troutner 5th female 10K Freestyle
Dave Nelson 14th male 10K Freestyle
Team Member Race Reports
Race Report from Grant Nelson
During these last few snowless winters, choosing the
right race to do each weekend has become one of my most
mentally draining components of ski racing. As I have mentioned
in earlier reviews it is imperative to stay flexible when
considering ski races. Obviously, it isnt always possible
to be flexible especially when considering lodging, travel
considerations and even the dilemma, To pre-register
or not to pre-register? However, this last weekend
I truly was flexible and due to the early cancellation of
the Finlandia, I figured I had plenty of time to make an
easy race decision.
As I searched through the skinnyski race calendar, my
obvious backup to the Finlandia was the new Timber Cruise
race at Brule, WI. They had nice fresh snow, great trails,
were close to Duluth and I knew a number of my friends were
planning on attending. There was even a good choice selection
of race lengths with both skate and classic races. Unfortunately,
they didnt have a nice long classic race.
Ideally, at the end of the year I like to have a pretty
even distribution between skate and classic races. Even
though technically, I had skied an equal number of skate
and classic races this year, I tried to convince myself
that last weekends Vasaloppet should actually have
fallen into the category of Painful double pole races,
instead of a true classic race. When I heard there
was a 30km classic race on the beautiful trails at Lappe
in Thunder Bay, I was definitely intrigued.
My Lappe plans fizzled out on Thursday when my body
started to give me hints that sickness might be coming my
way. With the Birkie only a week away, I certainly didnt
want to race myself into a miserable cold. Thats when
I decided I was going to be a founder of the
new Timber Cruise race, but I still hadnt decided
which race to do. Generally, Im a pretty strong believer
in the MKFYB plan (More K for Your Buck) I felt quite guilty
signing up for the short 15km skate race, but I justified
that it would be easier on my body and probably better Birkie
I felt great as my good friends Matt and Carrie Ryan
and myself pulled up at the Afterhours ski trail at Brule,
WI. Even though it was cloudy and mild in Duluth, Brule
was clear and crisp with a temperature near 0F. The classic
race took off at 10:00AM, followed by the 30km skate and
then the 15km skate. Even though the turnout wasnt
huge, the competition was good in both of the skate races.
As we took off, the race quickly turned into a four person
pack race consisting of Bob Peterson and Scott Chapin from
Riverbrook and fellow skinnyskier Brian May and myself.
Even though there was a few thin areas, the trail was in
very good condition due largely to quality grooming and
For the first 10km all four of us stuck together in
a nice tight pack having a fun time weaving around the 30km
skiers. The trail was very enjoyable with some nice gradual
ups and downs along with a few technical corners and exciting
downhills. At about 10km Bob spun out on a tricky corner
and took Scott out with him. I managed to weave around the
pile up and latched onto Brian. I decided that this was
a pretty good spot to push it a little so I cranked up a
couple of hills and just about drove myself into the ground.
With 2km to go, Brian powered up the final large up hill
and took the lead for good. I was quite happy with my 2nd
place performance. Bruce Bauer and Phil Rogers were one
and two in the mens long skate and Kelly Rogers won
the womens long skate. We enjoyed a great post race
feed at the Brule Town Hall with some neat handmade awards
and good door prizes.
|This week we also made a call on the team members to
provide some insight into their Birkie preparations with
an emphasis on nutrition...
Comments from Jay Richards
The last four times I have done the Birkie, I have
eaten at the "Taste of Saigon" restaurant in Canal
Park in Duluth the night before. Not the normal pre-race
meal for me but I have to stick with tradition as a stop
at this joint seems to do the trick. Maybe it is the msg
or extra tablespoon of peanut oil. The key thing I have
found for having good energy stories for the "big race"
is to begin consuming large amounts of carbs the week of
the race with a nice balance of protein and "good"
fats. If one is tapering for the event, generally the training
loads are lighter and the calorie consumption should be
a bit lower to avoid putting on extra pounds. Water consumption
is key as well the 3-4 days before. Trips to the bathroom
should be clear. A light carb snack before bed seems to
be good to top of the glycogen stores. The morning
of meal is lighter then I would typically consume in the
summer for mountain bike racing. However for the Birkie,
I do like to eat a bowl of home made seven grain hot cereal
with some whole-wheat bread with peanut butter around 3-4
hours before the event. About 1.5hrs before race time, I
like to consume a bar and then do a couple of gels 1 hour
then 30 minutes before the canon sounds. Taking fluids and
gels early and throughout the race is important to avoid
Comments from Brian May
Birkie Preparations ...
With 4 days to go, all focus is on the Birkie. Today was
my last significant workout before the big race - about
1 1/2 hours, mostly easy but with a few faster sections
to get all systems up and running. The next few days will
see lots of rest with a couple of easy skis (< 1 hour).
Again, I will do a few fast pick-ups (30 seconds - 1 minute)
to remind my body that going fast is on the agenda come
Food preparation/planning is invariably a key part of
getting ready for race day. In the coming days, my focus
will be on carbohydrates, while keeping an eye on fat intake
(no trips to McDonald's!). Friday night will see a typical
pasta meal. Nothing particularly special race morning ...
a glass of orange juice, bowl of cheerios, granola bar,
and a cup of coffee for the road down to Cable. However,
I will make an effort to polish off that breakfast 3 hours
before race time ... which means an early morning wake-up
When the race gets going, keeping the energy stores up
is a challenge in itself. For long races, which the Birkie
certainly qualifies, I carry a bottle of sports drink. Drinking
from glasses at the aid stations is a challenge (I normally
end up with more down my front than in my mouth), so I find
having my own bottle is an easy way to ensure I get enough
to drink. The bottle normally gets me through the first
half ... with refreshments from the aid stations to the
finish. For a cold morning (which is expected), to limit
freezing potential it is a good idea to carry the bottle
upside down and to drink early and often - there's no point
carrying a frozen water bottle 50km! Planning race feeds
can be an important strategy when trying to maximize speed
and avoid dropping off the pack. Long gradual downhills
are the best places to swig from a bottle. For example,
early in the Birkie, downhills in the 7-10k stretch offer
a few key opportunities to rehydrate after the long early
climbs and before slugging it up to the "high point".
I don't limit consumption to liquid however - energy
gels are a great way to avoid that end-of-race bonk. I am
a real believer ... my record is 14 gels in one race! For
the Birkie, I will staple two Enervit gels to my waist belt
to be consumed at about the 1/3 and 2/3 points in the race.
Energy gels can be strong on flavour - it is a good idea
to try out any planned energy gel before getting out on
the course. It's also wise to ensure anything else you are
planning to carry will be edible at the cold temperatures
expected ... Power Bars for example are horrendously difficult
to consume when frozen.
With cold weather in the forecast, it's a good idea to know how any
food/drink you will be carrying in the Birkie will react to cold. With
that in mind, I tossed 3 different energy gels (lemon-flavored Enervit,
vanilla-bean Gu, strawberry-banana Power Gel) into the freezer overnight.
The differences were remarkable. The Enervit gel came out as it went in,
fluid. The Gu was definitely a little thicker, like a sludge. The Power
Gel was solid, literally. The Enervit gel is clearly the ticket here, the
Gu would be fine, IMHO Power Gel is not something you want out on the
trail come Saturday.
Last but not least ... have fun and good luck!
Comments from Grant Nelson
Race Day Breakfast...
My preferred race morning breakfast is oatmeal. My brother
Dave and I used to have an oatmeal competition Birkie morning.
Typically, we would make about twice as much oatmeal as
we normally consumed. Once I read an article studying world
cup athletes which found a direct correlation between performance
and the amount of food consumed for their breakfast. Both
of us took that study a little overboard. Before we started
eating, we would compare each others heaping bowl to our
own and then the race would begin.
I had a pretty good winning streak going when we started
collecting our own data. That's when we realized that the
bloated and sluggish feeling we felt for the first part
of the race every year might have something to do with our
oatmeal competition. We still eat oatmeal every race morning,
but we don't race or consume double the quantity anymore.