It was 0F and about 20 knots of wind. My Birkie was an exercise in Type II Fun. Maybe this should be called the Type II Fun Dome. Eleventh edition of the Fun Dome to celebrate my eleventh edition of the race. My goals were to finish, have fun, and be grateful. I was grateful I can ski for 31 miles under my own power. I was grateful for my health and the health of my family. I was grateful my triceps didn’t completely lock up. I was grateful for the new bib type. Mostly because it helped squeeze in my protruding belly.
I was grateful that it wasn’t more than 5 hours. It took more time than any ski race I’ve ever done. It was the hardest ski of my life. Particularly the face numbing trip across Lake Hayward at the end. Several old-timers were quoted as saying it was the toughest Birkie ever. Guys who have done over 30 trips down the trail. I’m grateful I was there so now I can brag.
At the finish, I was also grateful for chemical hand warmers, dry upper layers, and that bowl of soup. I’ve skied colder Birkies (2011) and ones where the snow seemed deeper (2001). But not both at the same time. The race organizers came out yesterday with a bulletin. They normally allow you to look back three years at your results to determine your wave placement. They immediately allowed people to use the previous four years to seed your wave. One of my three goals for the year was to ski a Wave 2 Birkie this year. So I could move up from my current Wave 3. To get into Wave 2, you have to ski a race that is 39 – 54% back from the leaders. So, if the leaders ski in 2 hours, I had to ski in 3 to qualify to be in Wave 2.
Let’s say a hypothetical skier (we’ll call him Derek Mandler) skis this years hateful version 116% back. According to the website, that places him in Wave 69. Derek should blame the awful temps and foot of fresh snow. He definitely shouldn’t blame his lack of fitness. Other aerobic mutants in Duluth did well relative to the pack. Not so for me–I mean, Derek.
So, Derek skied worse than half the speed of the leaders. Half Fast. Half-Assed. Poor Derek. Moving up a wave will have to wait until next year.