Have you ever wondered how far you could ski? March might be the time to find out. While there still are some races on the upcoming calendar, many of us have completed our major goals for the season. This spring there are a variety of events providing the opportunity to celebrate the completion of the major races and also push ourselves in ways that typically don't mesh with mid-season training.
First up in the rolling hills north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado is the 4th Annual North Routt Coureur des Bois event on March 15th. Competitors can choose between a 45km loop or a 90km loop both of which are groomed and marked only once a year for this distinctive event. The 90 km course has about 6,500 ft of climbing and there will be long stretches where solitude and great views (assuming no storm) will be your only company. You will be required to carry appropriate clothing, food, water and gear to keep warm and fed in the case of emergency. Aid stations are located about every 15 km and will be well stocked. As well, a post race feast awaits all finishers, and rightfully so.
On March 22nd and 23rd is the Equinox Ski Challenge at the renowned Rendezvous Trails in West Yellowstone, MT. Competitors can challenge themselves to ski as far as they can in 6 hours, 12 hours or 24 hours as either a soloist or a relay team. A full moon, a trailside bonfire and a potluck with beverages make the Equinox an experience in both determination and camaraderie. Last year a relay team skied just under 400km and two student athletes from University of Utah exceeded 300km in the solo division! The traditionally great spring skiing in West Yellowstone is complemented this year by a surplus of snow and by mid race grooming to keep the two 9km courses in top shape. As well, Toko is supplying on-site waxing for free this year to help skiers adapt to the varying conditions throughout the 24 hours. Madshus and Patagonia have graciously donated prizes for this event which benefits the West Yellowstone Food Bank and the West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation among others.
For the Midwestern skiers, the 24 Hours of Lappe in Thunder Bay, Ontario is scheduled for March 29th this year. This is the pioneering 24 Hour Nordic ski race in North America and has seen some impressive records over the years. This event differs from other 24 Hour races by requiring all competitors to stop mid lap at the sound of a shotgun fired exactly on the 24 hour mark rather than allowing skiers to complete their lap as long as they began the lap before the 24 hour mark. Further details on this years event are still being finalized.
All three of these events join events such as the 24 Hours of Telemark and the Arrowhead Ultra 135 among the growing contingent of endurance races that emphasize fun, teamwork and camaraderie alongside the adventure and challenges associated with skiing for such extended periods of time.
Finish strong this year. Make use of that hard earned fitness and set a personal distance record.
Complete details for these events are available from the fasterskier.com
Members of the University of Utah Ski Team leading the way at the 2007 Equinox Ski Challenge