The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks believes in the adage: Think Globally, Act Locally. To that end, more than 90 members of the Nordic Ski Club, including skiers from 68 years old down to elementary age, fought the rampant obesity that plagues our society by attempting, and in most cases succeeding, to ski their ages in kilometers on the Jim Whisenhant Ski Trails at Birch Hill in Fairbanks on the day after Christmas. It’s a very low-key, non-racing event where racers and non-racers alike are rewarded for persistence, and the real glory goes to the oldest and youngest skiers.
Fighting their way through the lethargy that comes with rampant holiday overconsumption, 91 skiers whose ages totaled 2607 years, skied 2526Km — 969m of skiing for every year of total age. Not quite the 1000m+ objective, but pretty close. Seventy-four of the 91 skiers actually did ski their own age in K’s, or more.
The weather was perfect, with temperatures in the teens and no breeze. Tracks were hard, although a little abrasive, and the skating surface was as good as it gets. A warm spell (+40F) followed closely by below-freezing temperatures within the last couple of weeks had made the snow a little icy, so conditions were relatively fast, a fact certainly welcomed by those of more advanced ages.
Tom Wickwire, who covered 61Km at age 61, was the oldest skier to ski his age, and was the only skier over the age of 60 to do so, and Jane Parrish, 58, was the second-oldest skier, and oldest woman, to ski her age. Eleven skiers between the ages of 50 and 59, two women and nine men, skied their age or longer. Nine skiers in the 40-49 year group turned the trick, as did four skier in their 30s and four skiers in their 40s.
The most prolific group was the teen age group. A total of 28 skiers aged 13 through 19 skied their age, including 15-year-old Ian Wilkinson who skied 40Km. Not to be outdone, 17 skiers between 9 and 12 skied their age or more in K’s. Nine-month old Sonja Truffer covered 6.5Km in a pulk. Earlier this year, she was wheeled and packed around the rugged Equinox Marathon course by her parents.
It’s simple to organize such an event. We get the event on our club calendar and send out an e-mail on our club listserv. We ask people to bring Christmas leftovers for the food table, so throughout the day skiers can stop in the Birch Hill Cross Country Ski Center and replenish their systems with nutritious (and some not-so-nutritious) food — and socialize. Skiers start whenever they want and finish when they are done — there is no timing. Each person is on his or her own in counting K’s, and reporting is on the honor system. It’s a great motivator for younger kids to do a little longer ski than they otherwise might, and a great way for those of us who enjoy overeating at Christmas to take off the excess pounds.