Well the big day is finally here! We all woke up at 4:30 am to eat a good breakfast and to walk down to the bus stop for 6:15 am. The coach bus took us to the start area in Moena. It was still quite dark when we arrived so next time we’ll bring a headlamp to the start of every race. We were able to do a last minute ski test on the actual track. We have both decided to race on wax skis. They seemed fast and the track was pretty solid. Ross put several layers of klister covered with a hard red Toko wax. I am so thankful that Ross does my skis and he’s so so good at it!
The start area was super energizing! Lots of people, helicopters flying overhead with loud music playing! They were playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Winter and then ACDC etc. Ross and I said our good byes as he was starting 2 waves earlier than me. Ohh, it was going to be a great day!
The start was very relaxed. Once they opened the gate you just ran out, put your skis on, started your watch and started skiing when you were ready. There were tracks for about 50 metres, yes only 50!
The tracks were icy and totally washed out and with in about 10 minutes I knew that this was going to be a very tough ski! The first 18 km were up hill to Cavalese. Every little town we skied through was lined with people cheering. My wax didn’t last long, so I had to double pole up quite a bit- super tough! In Cavalese a group of fans actually called out my name. They had the start list book and had looked me up-pretty neat. We did a loop around the church and it was a real happening place!
The food stations were very well supplied with water, Enervit and tea to drink. The food consisted of mini ham sandwiches, cookies, oranges, chocolates and dates. I stopped at most checkpoints along the way.
The downhill was much harder than I thought because double poling without a track or washed out ones is very tiring on your legs. At about 30 km I stopped for wax at the Toko stand and they put on some purple grip wax. I thought this might allow me to diagonal stride a bit more and it did for a little while. At this point I decided that this was going to be really tough, 70 km seemed so far and that I was going to need a lot of grit and determination.
Meanwhile Ross was double poling ahead of me and going so fast! He was having a fabulous time. He’s just such an amazing skier!
Predazzo was another super vibrant town and it was where you turned off to the finish for the 45 km Marcialonga light. No way I was doing that! I was in for the 70km! It was also really cool to be skiing on the street that we cycled on last summer.
At 63.5 km at Molina di Fiemme I had the Toko guys put on klister so that I could climb up to the finish at 70km. The hill was gradual for a couple of kms. and then the last couple were very steep and windy- herring bone was necessary. The trail was winding up through the woods and then the track wound around the buildings of Cavalese on very narrow streets, more like walkways.
All of a sudden you could see the lights, including big strobe lights and hear the sounds of the finish! Oh I was so excited! So many people were cheering me on the way in. It was an electric place!!!
I asked Ross what his thoughts were right after I met up with him. He was super happy but tired. His heart rate average was 150 bpm so he definitely worked hard. He loved skiing through the villages but wished that the track had been better. It was hard to pass so many people because the track was so narrow but he still managed to get by them and finished in 5 hours and 23 minutes. Me on the other hand finished in 8 and half hours. Ross also loved skiing on the ribbon of snow with grass all around and found it very cool to ski over and under the bridges. It really was fantastic!
Once we picked up our bags, changed our clothes, picked up our finisher shirts had something to eat and got our passports stamped we walked up hill for about 30 minutes to Carano, to our apartment. When we were almost there we saw many cars parked on the side of the street looking down on Cavalese. As it turns out they have a big fireworks show as soon as the last skier crosses the line. What a show it was-lasted about 25 minutes! Bigger than Canada Day show on Parliament Hill in Ottawa!
Oh wow! What an amazing ski and day it was!!! We did it! We now have another stamp for our Worldloppet passports and are one step closer to achieving our Gold Masters!
Race photos to follow.