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Slush Marathon

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
After two years of Covid "peoples'" cross country ski races have finally restarted in France. In January I did the 21km Foulee Blanche on the Vercors plateau with a finish in the first quarter of the field but the FB is treated as a "fun day out" by many so is not super competitive. Last Sunday I entered la Savoyarde on the Bauges plateau. An altogether more serious 42km. The conditions didn't look fab, spring XC races are always at risk of warm, sticky snow if there is no refreeze and in any case by midday it will be getting slushy even on the best of days.

Still why not? I ski 40-50km regularly although not this year due to a leg injury in November. I figured I'd treat it as a recreational skate rather than a race and pace myself. There were 250 competitors in the 42k event but the 5,10 and 20k events were over the same course so several hundred skiers would have been on the trails before we started. We would make 2 loops of 21km and for me, it would be a game of two halves.



Skaters started to get ready for the start, the women had already set off with 15 minutes lead, they would be chased down, or not, by the men's race.

The race began with a tight hairpin then a steep downhill. Unlike the FB in Jan which started with a long climb then a funnel I decided not to fight to be at the front as it was not quite so important to be in the lead for the first km and I also was less sure about finishing. So instead I observed the Pamplona bull run - a chaos of broken sticks and interlocked skis as skiers, thinking they were Johannes Boe, fought for position. Obviously for the front runners things were a bit more disciplined with their level of skiing.



On the first downhill one guy had his skis dig into the soft snow and managed a fairly spectacular somersault taking out other skiers on the way. Finally the race settled down and the field spread out, the top skiers long since gone up the trail.



There followed a longish climb where I gained some places and I was now on the 10km traverse to St Francois and the first feeding station. From here I skied more or less on my own for the first loop except for one climb when a couple of guys caught up with me and in a fairly aggressive overtaking maneuver I found them skiing over my skis and pushing poles into me ! Neither of the two managed to overtake in the end and on the following downhill I put myself in the classic tracks and dropped them just before the feed. I don't know what the UK racing scene is like (MTB etc?) but some people seem to take things extremely seriously over here, even for minor places of no particular note.

From the feed stop the trails were under trees and the snow was slushy (gros sel) and hard to ski but finally things opened out on to a large plateau and things moved better. I was pleased to see I set a PR on the first leg, 3 minutes faster than I'd managed last year (not in competition) despite the sticky snow. The return to the start was ok until two very steep climbs I was forced to herringbone up due to the snow quality. I was also doing a lot of double polling in the classic tracks as the skate track was very cut up with some hairy downhill corners. The first 21k was ticked off in 1h25m. The leaders had flown through in 50 minutes !


lead group

On the second loop I began to catch some people who'd blown up and some of the women racers, one or two who were very courageous to start the second loop I thought. It took 6 minutes more to reach the feed station compared to the first halve. I wasn't going fast but didn't feel my skiing was too bad and that I was making continuous progress. It was then a case of keeping on, keeping on to finally finish the 42k in 3h14m with something over 800 meters of climbing. The leaders took 1h45 although 2h30 was considered a good time due to the snow. The front runners were cursing the snow but relatively they were less affected than me. The final descent (just sliding) was 10% slower on the second loop and I took 1h45m this time around; some 20 minutes slower.


Tired but all over

And where did I finish? Near the last 25% of skiers!

Next race, 20km only I think.


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Wed 16-03-22 13:01; edited 1 time in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
congrats!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I enjoy but struggle with enthusiasm for my local park run so this is as impressive as it is interesting@davidof,
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@davidof, I didn't see that on your Strava, and just checking it again, the event is not there?

Were there two courses, Skating and Classic running on the same trail ?

Were you Classic or Skating ?

Down here was actually a very brief XC season think my last outing was 6th Feb Sad
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Skating: https://www.strava.com/activities/6817404010

The classic race was on the same loop but just 21km, they went first to avoid their rails getting trashed.

Cross country has been very good here. I started at the end of November and will finish early April although things are pretty sticky this week with the sand and heat (zero iso at 3200m today).



I'm sure everyone is interested in waxing and all that techy kind of stuff. Ok first off I was using my Rossignol S2 192cm skate skis. This is a pretty top end skate ski so no excuses but also a little bit hard to handle, especially on icy snow (which we didn't have). I didn't structure them (the little holes in the base that absorb wax) but waxed with warm wax. A lot of people take their skis to an expert for a race prep but here is what the front runners were doing:

1. base lmach graphite
2. hmach red glide wax
3. accelerator yellow

with a medium structure with a linear structure on tales !

You need a degree in ski prep. to do all that Happy

Lets talk HRs as I had my HRM on for a change. Max 183bpm (but that must have been briefly on a steep hill) and an average of 151 bpm, so I was working quite hard. The limit was the second loop, I never felt limited by cardio/vascular but had a pain in my right arm and didn't feel able to push too hard in the end.
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Gosh. I feel tired just reading that. Congratulations.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Quote:

a couple of guys caught up with me and in a fairly aggressive overtaking maneuver I found them skiing over my skis and pushing poles into me ! Neither of the two managed to overtake in the end

I loved this bit. You fought them off, @davidof! Well done. And to think that some people think XC skiing is a gentle afternoon potter for the elderly.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
pam w wrote:
Quote:

a couple of guys caught up with me and in a fairly aggressive overtaking maneuver I found them skiing over my skis and pushing poles into me ! Neither of the two managed to overtake in the end

I loved this bit. You fought them off, @davidof! Well done. And to think that some people think XC skiing is a gentle afternoon potter for the elderly.


@pam_w you must get that in regattas too? some aggressive pilot ramming other yatchs like he's Cap'n Kid or something?
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@davidof, French alpine ski races are a lot more friendly than your XC one.
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What @davidof, didn't realise was that he was being filmed Laughing


http://youtube.com/v/AVcsaDha2m4
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
It's worth looking at the comments on the youTube video - it's quite a story. This guy had incredible guts.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
rjs wrote:
@davidof, French alpine ski races are a lot more friendly than your XC one.


They woudn't be if 250 skiers set off all at once. Already border cross is a contact sport.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Weathercam wrote:
What @davidof, didn't realise was that he was being filmed Laughing


http://youtube.com/v/AVcsaDha2m4


My hero.

Last I heard he was in the adult film industry in the Ukraine, or somewhere

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