The 2-3 cm of fresh snow overnight, nicely covered the slightly glazed tracks from the previous day's melting temps and rain.
Jumped on the 6 a.m. shuttle bus from Banff to the start at Lake Louise. At the bib pickup, relay skier Bill Young was kind to help arrange for my skate ski gear to be dropped off at the transition from Leg 5 to Leg 6.
A few lumpy road crossings had volunteers quickly shovel snow on the road after a car passed.
Leg 1 usually is the best tracked of all the 6 legs. This time is was just ok. I almost dead-stopped when my skis scraped a rock on the Hwy 1 underpass.
When the track swerved on a few lumpy sections, I fell a couple times landing forward on my knees.
Early in Leg 1, I managed to get in a few slurps of fresh frozen thawed coconut water from my Camelbak. It is a long leg at 22k. At the first transition, I asked for help and coached a spectator to grab a date from my forward-facing fanny pack. Excellent refuelling!
Leg 2 was the best scenic leg and was mostly in good shape (out of the 6 legs!).
Skied mostly alone with a relay team skier passing me or me re-passing a slower relay teammate.
Leg 4 was hilarious attempting the big climbs with no grip using short weighted steps. On the descent, the track was set very close to the road. Speeding clumsily down the wobbly track had me cautious with the oncoming cars so close. It would have been a quick tumble into traffic with the skittish snow.
|Leg 5 start - photo SkierBob.ca|
My double-pole single-kick muscles were maxed out!
My skate gear was waiting for me at transition… all zipped up in their bags. I quickly hollered for anyone to help me. A kind woman and guy spectator helped unzip the gear. I plunked my butt down on the damp snow to remove my boots. One toggle was iced up. Moments later to my surprise my whole boot was tugged off by the guy. Awesome help! I tossed on my skate boots. My guy then gave me my thermos I had prepared with Apple Blossom honey in warm water with cinnamon. What a great boost!
The 800m run on the pavement to the trailhead with gear dangling was awkward. Note to self to leave ski sleeves on.
Even though I now had skate skis on, I double-poled in the track whenever I could as the inner lane was lumpy. I was so happy to switch disciplines. The hill climbs were forever long. Finally onto the snowy bike path by the river, the bomb-field of teeny pine cones got me once. I fell to my knees with a screech as a couple Sunday walkers looked back at me.
Ivana Novosel who I passed on the descent at Lake Louise on Leg 1 came in only a few minutes back. Looking at results, we flip-flopped for fastest solo women's times for the different legs. 3rd woman Jessica Stichelbout was also getting closer in time.
The top team "overall" was the dynamic triple of local Canmore/Banff women Maria Hawkins, Kathy Davies and Theresa Gawron. They had a battle to the finish line with the top solo male.
I appreciate all the volunteers that shovelled snow on the road crossings, train tracks, and were marshalling all over the place (even in the back-swamp), and the cheers they gave.
I was very slaughtered at the end (and during)! It is a wicked challenge in a beautiful scenic area… to want to do it again. Each year with the varied weather conditions makes it a different course.