720 stalwart skiers made it to the line for the 2008 Craftsbury Marathon. A significant New England ice storm the day before made for interesting driving and challenging waxing. Fortunately Mother Nature backed off by start time – delayed for two hours to allow for extra work on the course.
All photos courtesy of Kris Dobie – http://krisdobie.smugmug.com
Starting at Highland Lodge in Greensboro, Vermont, the marathon winds through farm fields and sugarbush, eventually climbing to finish on picturesque Craftsbury Common. The course was shortened by 5km due to the weather of the previous few days, but the remaining 45km was in excellent condition.
The Craftsbury Marathon is actually three events in one – the 50m marathon, the 25km half, and the tour – an untimed category for those who want the experience without the competition.
Waxing proved to be difficult. Conditions at the start warranted klister – granualar ice the was packed an hour before start. But the half inch of powder that fell early in the morning was waiting in the wind-blown fields. Many racers went with a violet klister well covered by hard wax. This resulted in solid kick but slow skis in the places where the tracks were blown in.
Justin Freeman (Factory Team) led off the line, opening a gap on the field right from the start. Freeman, a blogger on FasterSkier, has stated a goal of winning a major marathon this season. It appeared that he was planning on putting it away early. Given the conditions, this was a risky move – the man in front would be “skiing-in” the tracks for the rest of the field. And the chasers were no slouches – with Dave Chamberlain (Atomic), Eli Enman (Rossignol) and Green Mountain Valley School coaches Justin Beckwith and Jon Arne Enevoldsen.
Freeman led for the majority of the race – over 40 kilometers, before relinquishing the lead briefly, taking it back, and ultimately losing out to Enevoldsen in the final 300 meters. FasterSkier correspondent Ian Case, just back from the SuperTour, took a strong third after a slow start – finishing a little over a minute behind the top two.
In the women's race, Burke Mountain assistant coach and Atomic racer Carina Hamel charged to a two minute victory over Alpina's Dorcas Wonsavage. Former Harvard and Maine Winter Sports Center star Anna McCloon was third, another 4 minutes back.
The racing was a bumper haul for the Green Mountain Valley School in Waitsfield, with GMVS racers or their coaches taking 3 out of the four overall categories. Noah Brautigam kicked off the parade for the Waitsfield school with a win in the men’s 25k, beating teammate David Sinclair by roughly a minute. Teammate Doug DeBold made a solid GMVS podium with his third place, 30 seconds ahead of Waterbury, VT skier Tom Thurston.
Not long after that, GMVS skier Sarah Moore led the 25k Women’s race across the line in 1:58:31. The junior skier from Waitsfield beat Master’s competitor Margie Prevot of Felton, PA by a solid 2:30 and took 14 minutes out of Gretchen Czaja of Woodstock who rounded out the podium.
The Craftsbury Marathon is not all about racing though. This year saw nearly 300 participants signed up for a non-timed touring option. Food stations, featuring quiche, pea soup and other delicious options, awaited the tourists. As a way of injecting more interest for the nearly 200 volunteers, Craftsbury sponsored a contest between the feed stations for the most creative as voted on by the participants. The inaugural winners were U32 with a Pirates theme on the 25 km course and the Waterbury Boy Scouts with a Mardi Gras theme on the 50 km course. The competition was marked by plenty of enthusiasm and great costumes.
Justin Freeman skiing away early
Men's 50km winner – Jon Arne Enevoldsen (GMVS)