I was nervous coming into Birkie week. I think everyone was wondering what the weather was going to do, with having a big warm up the week prior. To add to this, I snapped one of my good race skis a week before the Birkie! But after a last minute trip to Finnsisu and fitting with Devin I had a new pair of skis, complete with a famous Finnsisu Fine grind and Devin’s spectacular wax prep. The scary thing was that I picked up the skis on Friday on my way up to Hayward and Saturday morning would be my first time trying them out. But skiing around the warmup loop 20 minutes before the start I knew Devin had worked his magic, I had some rockets on. Now I just needed to have a conservative start and not blow up on the north half hills. I quickly found myself in the middle of a huge 30 plus pack, which stuck together for nearly the whole race. I’ve never felt so fresh at 00. I was just conserving and waiting for someone to make a break and split the pack. The Ks kept clicking away until we were less than 5K from the finish and about to hit Lake Hayward, which is a 3K stretch before Main Street. I thought about my Mora 35K race from a few years ago when I jumped ahead of Andy Schakel on the lake and ended up pulling him across only to have him out sprint me to the finish. But I also knew that I didn’t want it come down to a huge sprint on Main Street. So I made the decision just before the lake to ski to the front and take a gamble on opening a gap across the lake. I thought I could either try to put the “hurt” on these guys and make a break or end up pulling them all across (with a head wind). Two guys from the pack followed me about half way across, but I was able to keep a strong v2 up and hold about a 6 second gap into Main Street and right across the finish line. I actually got really close to catching Dave Chamberlain just before the end. My goal for the past few years has been to break into the top 50 (I’ve been 51st prior), so I was totally pumped to end up in 39th. Woohoo!! Catch the Birkie Fever!