â€œIt was the best of times, it was the worst of timesâ€. For some, today was fantastic, but for quite a few it was essentially a day of survival and racing for personal satisfaction. This is usually the case in long races to some degree; the field spreads out and many are left fighting an inner-battle with themselves for many long and lonely kilometres until either they pull to the side of the trail and call it a day, or until the blessed (or cursed?) finish line arrives.
Today, however, these problems were accentuated by tricky waxing conditions. The tricky part in this case was predicting what the temperature would do and how the track would deteriorate. At race time for the open women’s 30km and the open men’s 50km the temperature was right around 0C. At the finish it is the author’s guess that it was about plus 6C. By this time the snow was generally wet, slow, and soft. As is always the case on this type of day, a few people nailed the wax, another group found something reasonable, and the poor rest of the field was left to contemplate re-waxing, actually re-waxing, and generally doing a lot of ugly herringboning.
On to the important stuff like who won the races. Daria Gaiazova of the National Team continued her streak of wins here in Thunder Bay by about a minute and half over Milaine Theriault (also National Team) and about 3 minutes ahead of Tara Whitten of Exel Racing Team.
The open men’s race saw a three way battle over the last 10kms with National team member Chris Jeffries prevailing over X-C.com’s Stefan Kuhn and Dan Roycroft of the National Team at the finish.
There were no big surprises in terms of the winners of the junior men’s and women’s races either. The top three men were Alex Harvey, Brent McMurtry, and Chris Butler. Among the junior women first went to Amanda Ammar, second to Kate Brennan and third to Bibianne Mahy.
PHOTOS BY JON NELSON: