The Bogburn Classic
The Bogburn Classic saw around 300 athletes descend on The Rikert Touring Center for the annual event. The Bogburn is a long-standing homegrown favorite on the calendar. Though it outgrew the Bogburn Homestead long ago, the character of the race kept it going, and organizers found a way to continue hosting the race with limited facilities. Recent years have seen the race relocated to nearby Woodstock and now a new, more permanent home at Rikert. Fortunately, Rikert has the capability to reinforce snow in lean years, such as we are experiencing, and the race was held as scheduled. The goal is to use some of the outer perimeter trails at Rikert to give the event an authentic Bogburn feel, but sometimes you have to take what you get.
Youth races started in the morning, and several fields competed based on age. The open races were held after a break in the action between the youth and adult races. Not to go unnoticed, the most important race of the day, the Lollipop Race, was held during the intermission while things were reprogrammed for the open races. The Bogburn has spawned several Olympians, many of whom started their careers in the Lollipop Event. As the masters arrived, it was good to see clubs gathered around open tables socializing, smiling, and getting ready to throw it down. I prefer this to the more secretive and sequestered team trailer model. To me, it seems much more welcoming with people sharing information and resources, lending itself to enriching everyone's experience and making the competition about everyone having their best day.
Today's conditions were not those where secrets would yield much of an advantage. The snow was fast, the tracks were solid, and the whole range of wax was working on the mixed machine-made and natural snow. Skiers have been pulverizing these short loops, seeking to train on limited terrain, turning the snow into fine ground dust that, when below freezing, is easy to kick on. The one thing not working was skin skis, noted by a skier rehabilitating an injury sensitive to the classic skiing technique.
Temperatures were steady in the upper twenties. A brisk wind ahead of the nor’easter made things feel cold. Scott Magnan (NWVE) stated it was not cold; we were “not conditioned to below-freezing temps.” The course was a nicely skiable 1.3km loop. Racers started in the stadium and down the hill at fifteen-second intervals. Instead of going up Loop 1, they took a cutoff after crossing the forest road and paralleled the road to the next crossing. The course took an S-turn back up to the stadium and sent the participants back across the forest road on Loop 3 to the first cutoff. On the second downhill out of the stadium area was an ice obstacle that narrowed the trail to one skier wide, which played a part in your positioning strategy on this descent. On Loop 3, skiers crested a short hill and had a nice twisty, banked descent back to the forest road, where they climbed back up to the stadium to the start/lap/finish area. Racers completed six laps for a total race distance of almost six miles.
Bogburn start seeding is a mysterious science, and athletes could not make much sense of it, but as we lined up, clubs appeared to be grouped somewhat by age. The U16 athletes followed the Open Races, with DOR registrants following the U16 athletes. The course was busy, with starts spanning 37 minutes and the U16 racers skiing fewer laps. Most skiers were accustomed to the traffic and shared the trail. Others may not have known the first rule of the Bogburn: Anyone who takes the Bogburn too seriously is automatically disqualified. This is not to say that you cannot take the Bogburn too seriously, but the nature of the Bogburn is one of fun and celebration for all skiers.
Chris Burnham was the first starter for NWVE. He set out chasing Chris Stock (EMXC), and the two matched pace for the whole race, with Chris Stock finishing with a slight advantage to win the M1 category. The two raced smoothly as they weaved through the ever-growing race field. Chris Burnham was well into his second lap when a string of NWVE athletes started. Scott Magnan, Eric Tremble, and I started sequentially, with Eli Enman close behind. Justin Freeman (Unattached) was right behind Eli. Eric Tremble made quick work of Scott, me, and almost everyone around us. He found company on the course with other skiers looping through and eventually was caught by Eli. Eli came by me and Scott early in the race. Setting out a few spots further back was Eric Darling (NWVE), Frank Feist (Ford Sayre), and Tom Thurston (NWVE). As Scott and I looped through the stadium, heading out on our second lap, Stephen Wright (NWVE) was in the corral with Thomas Clayton (NWVE) a few spots back. This put a lot of blue NWVE uniforms in close proximity.
NWVE had many members cheering, making things more exciting. Sarah Pribram, who tested the Skin Skis, was in the middle of the course, and her distinctive excitement cued the club on their progress relative to each other and other athletes on the course. Sarah used positive words of encouragement. Brendan Barden and Jon Miller stood on the last climb to the stadium and used competitive words of encouragement to pit racers against each other. Oliver Tremble and friends also strongly supported the team. All strategies were effective. The course was lined with people watching the race, and it was a lot of fun to pass through so much support. With the volume of athletes on the course and the volume of spectators, you were always among someone who was receiving energy from the sideline.
At one point, Stephen, Thomas, Scott, Eric D., and I were all aligned, heading out to loop three with Tom and Frank closing in. While the order was changing, having such a strong group was good. I am not sure how it looked to the other competitors, but for a moment, it looked like we were dominating the race. The group blew apart when it encountered one of the few bottlenecks of athletes on the course, with some squeaking through while others waited for a better passing opportunity. Sometime during the middle of the race, the NWVE women came on course. Kasie Enman and Jessica Bolduc cheered as we looped through the start area and hopped on our tails. Both Kasie and Jessica charged through the field. Rosalie Wilson (Ford Sayre) also joined in on the quickly advancing skiers. Kasie skied strong but would have liked a little more kick. Jessica was happy with her skis, which had the NWVE wax pick Star M21.
There was a slew of Mansfield Nordic Women in the race, which should extend their lead in the club series. Apparently, MNC got the memo that NWVE was looking to close in on them fast. Gina Campoli (Craftsbury) was the lone master skier from her club. John Brodhead (Craftsbury) crisscrossed the course, cheering her on, and tended to her skis before and after the race. Gina was with Kasie, wanting her wax to have a little more bite. Gina held her own and finished in the top ten of the deep master's field. Acadia Enman (Sleepy Hollow/NWVE) is used to the commotion of a crowded ski track, being a veteran of Wednesday Night Worlds. Flying the CVU colors, she aged up out of the 7/8 race to join the U16s and open races. She moved easily through the field and kept pace with the top contenders on the most difficult climb in the race.
Keeping track of the laps was a challenge, and people have different strategies for doing so. I counted up, Kasie counted down, and Stephen counted on Eric Darling to keep track. It seemed that things all worked out. Several of the club's skiers finished close to each other. Frank and Tom got by Scott and were on my heels at the finish. Tom had passed Frank earlier in the race, but Frank came back and made it hard for Tom to take the M6 win. Frank passed Tom on the last lap and opened a gap, forcing Tom to dig to keep it less than 15 seconds, the time he needed to stay ahead.
Many other notable Masters were in the field. Britta Clark(Maine Mussel Project) was the top Masters Woman, Mary Stewart (Unattached) was second, and Kathy Maddock (Dublin) proved her credibility taking third, ahead of many of her aspiring prodigies. For the Men, Chris Stock (EMXC), Justin Freeman (Unattached), and Chris Burnham (NWVE) were only a few seconds apart in the Men’s top Masters. The field was deep with great athletes; running legend Pascal Cheng even hopped in and endured the excitement of the ski criterium-type race. Stuart Kremzner’s (Toko) result was also more on par with his fitness this week, having probably done an extra lap at the Jackson Jaunt last week. Dennis Page (Nansen) looked to be in good form, and Nick Trautz (GMVS) hopped in at the last minute, perhaps to help position GMVS in better contention earlier in the season after the yields of the club's late surge last season!
The Bogburn continues as a grand family affair. As I write these closing lines, enough snow has fallen on the region that I opted out of traveling to the Gunstock Freestyle due to safety concerns of trying to get through Franconia Notch in the predawn during a blizzard and back. Hopefully, the new snow will stick and improve conditions for the rest of the season, and the energy of the Bogburn will carry skiers to their next events. The Haydocks are excited that the Bogburn lives on in its latest evolution, and so are the 300 participants and countless fans and supporters thrilled with the experience this year!