Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Lakeland Loppet Part 2

The first heat of 8k skate style skiers (14-18 year olds) left 4 minutes before, and the heat I was to be sent with (19-39 year olds) would be getting the green light in a mere 60 seconds. As the rest of the skiers from my group were lining up to start the race, I was still trying to decide whether or not I should race with my fleece jacket on. If I kept the jacket on, I would be somewhat warm, however, if I removed the jacket, I could show off my sweet "Team Aderhold" t-shirt; the brain-child collaboration of my Aunt Jan and Grandma Aderhold. Ultimately, it was a no-brainer; Team Aderhold it was. I removed my jacket, strapped on my gloves, and got in my ready position (which looked a lot like this: click here).

The Lakeland Loppeteers line up for the start of the big race

Yup, that's me in the white. At 6'4" and weighing in at an impressive 178 lbs., the old man to the right can't help but be impressed with my terrific ski posture.

"3... 2... 1... GO!"
And just like that, we were off!  

After 1k I still hadn't fallen, which was a small victory in itself. However, 20 yards after the 1k sign, I guess I got a little cocky, and biffed it pretty hard on a winding downhill. Was I embarrassed that I wiped out so horrifically? Not really. I was so far behind the pack that nobody actually saw me. I picked myself up and continued on. I was pretty content that I could just enjoy the beautiful trails and not worry about people passing me or, unlikely as it sounds, me passing other people. On the way to the race I was a student in "Ski Race Passing Etiquette 101", which to me definitely seemed more like a 400 level course.

This contentful (it's a word... look it up) thought process came to a sudden and crashing end near the 3k sign when out of nowhere I got passed on a steep uphill by a man on my left.

"What the heck?", I thought to myself, "Where is he coming from?"

I was, without question, in last place. How could I be getting passed? I didn't say anything, just smiled and watched him fly by me.

Approximately 45 seconds later, another man flew past me. Then another. Then another. Then a woman.

Then it hit me... This was the 40-59 year old wave of racers that began 5 minutes after my group started. And yes, they were smoking me. I could only think one thing, and those were the classy words of my friend, Eddy: "Cheese and biscuits!"

I began to wonder if wearing the Team Aderhold shirt might have been a bad idea. I was concerned that I would be giving us Aderhold's a bad name. "Oh well", I thought to myself, "At least I'm not Roger Clinton."

Finally, after only falling a half dozen times, getting passed by another dozen or so races, and then repassing a woman with less than 1k to go, I finished the Lakeland Loppet in just under 52 minutes! Such sweet relief!

Following my race, I watched Mo-T finish the 25k race, and then we packed up our gear and loaded our ski's into my truck. With a 4 hour drive in front of us, I was pretty intent on heading on home. Mo-T had other plans. She asked if I wanted to stick around for the awards ceremony, which initially I thought was a joke. She wasn't very happy with her time, so I assumed she had no chance at winning a medal. Certainly there was no reason for me to stick around. Not only did I get last in my heat, I think I was close to last in the "old folks" heat as well.

She finally talked me into staying, so we headed back up to hear the official results of the race.

After only standing there for a couple minutes, the PA system announced, "And in 2nd place in the male 19-29, 8k skate ski division, Chris Aderhold (which sounded more like "AID - ear - hold"). Pandemonium ensued! For exclusive video footage of the chaos, click here.

Sure, there were only two of us males in the 19-29, 8k skate ski division, but that didn't matter. Ten years (or more likely 2 months) from now, I'll forget to mention to people that there were only two of us. I have my second place prize (a Lakeland Loppet travel coffee mug) prominently displayed in my apartment, and will forever boast of winning the silver in my very first nordic ski race.

(Oh, and Mo-T ended up being the only female in the 19-29, 25k classic ski division, making her the champion. Not a bad weekend.)

Peace be da journey.


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