Sunday, February 10, 2008
A Cold Sunday in Mora
The SKOAC Renegades completed their first nordic ski race, the Mora Vasaloppet, in -16F(-27C) temperatures with wind chills in the -45F range (-43C). The original 58k length of the race was actually shortened to 35 k in order to concentrate the number of medical personnel and rest stops as well as decrease the time that people were actually exposed to these dangerous conditions. The one nice thing was that most of the time the wind was from behind, over your right shoulder, as you skiied the course. For those of you thinking of filing petitions in Hennepin County Court to have the entire Renegade team committed, it really wasn't that bad. To quote a buddy from Cumbria, Northern England, "There's no such thing as bad weather mate, only p*ss poor gear". People layered up, put Dermatone or vaseline on any exposed skin and once they got moving all was well. Some unfortunates decided to put moleskin and even duct tape on their cheeks and noses; watching them attempt to remove it at the finish line was an ugly scene indeed.
The Mora Vasaloppet was founded in 1973 with one of the driving forces being TheLegend, father of the Voice of Reason and TheMayor. In honor of her dads contribution, the Mayor decided to ski the race on her dads '73 vintage wood skis, clothing, and every Vasaloppet button since the race's inception. She was lookin' good and, though it pains me to admit it, beat the Renegade relay team to the finish line. The two women next to her in the photo are her sister and sister in law, both fromer kranskulla (garland girl in Swedish), an honorary position. They present the medals and preside over many events over the year. The Mayor and family, the SKOAC Renegades, and also the Bjorn Dahlie of Mahtomedi and the Irish Pirate all ate spaghetti and crashed at the home of the Legend and his wife, the GraciousPartyer on Saturday night. And we all waited to see if there would be a race in the morning.
This is a true community event with over 800 volunteers to help pull it off. It was well run and when the weather became ugly the Vasaloppet board of directors met to decide what to do. A majority of the board are skiiers and they consulted with a number of the elite racers to see what the consensus was. The decision to cut the race to 35k, not move the start time, and run all the races on the 35k course was the correct one. This allowed them to concentrate on re-grooming the 35k which had drifted badly overnight, and also focus emergency personnel, volunteers, bonfires, and other resources on a smaller, more manageable piece of trail. The other amazing thing was that they enumerated and justified their reasons for doing what they did on their website and took responsibility for the end results. Which were in my opinion, excellent. If you've ever had your airline flight delayed and dealt with the lack of information, misinformation, and general disinterest in your situation, this was 180 degrees the opposite. Everyone was friendly, upbeat, and seemed to be having a good time. By the time the racers had skiied down the Main street of town, covered with snow for the occasion, and crossed the finish line to get their medals, thoughts of cold weather had faded into the back of their minds and that post exertion euphoria had begun to set in. Ain't winter grand!