Tough Day At The Office But A Good Experience
The Keskinada Loppet was held last weekend in the beautiful Gatineau Park near Ottawa, Canada.Â The three day event finished Sunday with the main race – the 50 km free.Â Due to cold weather, the course was shortened to 42.5 km and delayed an hour.Â Both the men's and women's races were close with the top three men finishing within seven seconds and the top three women within forty (seconds) of each other. Canadian Sarah Peters is skiing for Maine Wintersport/TorbjornSport/SOLDA. She finished in third place overall behind Tara Whitten and Sheila Kealey, both of Canada. She felt great but a little bad luck might have cost her a chance to (really) fight for the top spot.
Sarah, tell us about the race course?
The race starts on the flats below the Gatineau Hills.Â Within a few kilometers you start the climb up to the top, which you reach about 15 km in!Â The next 5 km are spent on rolling trails in the woods which emerge on the open parkways.Â The parkways are wide and windy with long continuous climbs and often equally long downhills. (The views of the Ottawa Valley
from the parkways are training day highlights!) Back at the bottom you turn into the woods and spend the last 5 km on gradual climbs in the woods.Â The last kilometer is a fast downhill bringing you out for a 200 m sprint to the
What were the conditions on race day?
Race day was COLD!Â The race started at -24C and wasn't much more than -18C for most of the race.Â All my long races this year have been under frigid conditions so I wasn't surprised.Â In other years, I had a lot of trouble racing in these conditions due to asthma.Â This year I have a system – I wear a ton on my core and cover my face for at least the first 5 km.Â It seems to work.Â I've even read lately that I am a long distance cold weather specialist!!
How did the race unfold?
Off the start, Tara Whitten was in front.Â She had a great start and built up a good lead over the first 10 km.Â Sheila Kealey – a skier and top regional triathlete – and I were together for much of the race chasing Tara.Â I thought for sure she had gone out to hard but she held on for the win.Â After the race, Tara admitted that if she had had to go even 500 m further she wouldn't have been able to do it!
What was the most challenging part of the race?
At 5 km into the race, I could feel that something wasn't quite right with my pole.Â Looking down I discovered that I had lost the basket to my left pole!Â I skied the next 37 km without a basket!!Â I never got a replacement pole as it wasn't noticeably broken.Â On some parts of the course it would sink up to 15 cm into the snow and I would have to yank it up and out.Â On
others parts it was okay and with trial and error I discovered that V1 to the right work pretty well.Â Things like this happen to all of us so I just went with it.Â I was glad that I was mentally tough enough to keep my head in the race!