It's a special feeling representing a good cause and getting to sport their colours in an athletic event. I was excited to wear the MitoCanada ski suit at the Master World X-C Ski Championships today at Sovereign Lakes in Vernon, BC! Blaine Penny, one of the PLPP skiers I met, is the instigator behind creating awareness and raising funds for mitochondrial disease. More about this cause can be read here.
So much exciting about the champs... the organization is superb, our own lane assignments for starting within 20 lanes, racing in my age category the first time 45-49 year olds, the enthusiasm meeting masters from all over the world...
The women's category races started 5 minutes apart with the younger age groups first. I was just in place in the 19th lane on the first row when I realized I left my GPS sitting on the bag check-in table 50 metres back. With 1 min to race start, I sprinted back to get my GPS, put it on and dash back to my starting position with 20 seconds to go, phew! Best sprint warmup as once our starting flag was down, I had a great double pole start. I actually eased up abit when our lanes merged as I wanted to go the pace of the lead skiers, and be cautious of any breathing difficulties at the high altitude.
After 2 km, I realized I was at a pretty comfortable pace and my skis were faster on the descents than the lead skier. I knew I had to commit to taking the lead and possibly skiing solo. I jumped into the passing lane and went hard. Either someone would go with me, or I'd get a nice break. I broke away... and stayed away slowly passing skiers from the earlier starts. Had to focus on keeping my heartrate high and breathing low.
I was all smiles and laughter when I passed a huge cheering section of people, some with cowbells. Really motivating! The conditions were superb... a little snowy... warm air temp around -4C... and the scary warm blazing morning sunshine had hidden behind a snow squall. The course was quite fun rolling gently up and down for the first 10 km. The last 5 km had the Montezuma hill that was seemingly endless interspersed with fun twisty descents. The crowds cheering definitely helped keep me moving on that last bit of climbing.
Best part was I had both excellent grip AND glide the whole race. It is such a great feeling to race on skis that worked 100%, a tricky balance to get. MAJOR thanks goes to Coach Corey who helped refine my ski wax before the race until the skis were gripping well. These humid conditions are challenging to wax for.
For accommodations, I really wanted to stay at the lower elevation in Vernon at 1140'. The ski area is up at 5500'. I was fortunate to get to stay at a local jade sculptor's place just west of town.