Craftsbury Marathon Day 2: 27km Freestyle
Day two of the Craftsbury Marathon brought new twists to the weekend. The conditions were restored and improved after the beating the course took from the Classic Race. The crew at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center refreshed everything and was ready to serve the skiing population with another outstanding event. Added to the festivities was the SuperTour component to the citizen’s racing. I think it was welcomed by the citizen participants.
Conditions were quite different today. The snow dried out a little, and the overnight temperatures dropped into the high twenties for several hours. Grooming was done after the staff and volunteers re-shoveled the known thin spots on the course. Eleanor’s received some attention after being sheared off during the Classic Race. Workers noted how slippery it was in boots, let alone skis. The course set up nicely, with the track packed but not icy firm. The course was the same as yesterday’s.
Skiers warmed up and were delighted with the conditions. Those who raced on Saturday were fatigued and found sore muscles in unexpected places. The skis were running fast on the freshly groomed transformed snow. Everyone was in good spirits, looking forward to the race. Skiers put the finishing touches on their skis: a little structure to cold grinds and a topcoat for some.
Today, the Men started first. The ranked skiers got the first few rows, then the open racers filled in. The start was seven skate lanes wide. The no-double-pole zone starts seem to be working out, as people establish their lines and do not surprise others when they start skating. The SuperTour Skiers quickly distinguished themselves from the rest of the field. While there was no official gap, one became apparent in the beginning stages of the race.
The snow was fast, but not scary fast, or so one may have thought in the first few kilometers. That changed on the course's first and most technical downhill - Eleanor’s Downhill. Eleanor’s claimed a lot of unsuspecting skiers. The berms were loose, and skis punched through them, throwing the skiers off balance. Even conservative skiers would have difficulties staying under control, as was my fate after colliding with some debris from a yard sale at the bottom of Eleanor’s. It seemed everyone in the field, from the leaders to the tail gunners, was impacted by a skier who had fallen. Some, setting up chain reactions. At the back of the field, a few wise skiers elected to hike down the hill.
As I hiked out off the course, the Women’s Field had a little more finesse and control through the area, though it was not without issue, and thoughts of what happened must have crossed a few minds seeing the carnage of broken poles, glasses, and bindings littering the side of the trail.
NWVE skiers Jake Hollenbach and Gaelen Boyle-Wight were at the front of the open race field with a bit of support from Kevin Hoose (Maine Mussel Project). Gaelen pulled most of the race, waiting for Jake to make his move. Jake did after Timothy Cunningham (GRP) went by late in the second lap, pulling Gaelen away from Kevin.
Eli Enman NWVE was in an exciting race with Eliot Schneider (GMVS) and Tim Van Orden (Prospect Mountain). Despite the age differences, all skied competently and helped each other along. Thomas Clayton (NWVE) had another great day. He raced the whole way with Andrew Nadler (Ford Sayre) and Martel Laurent (Ottawa) to a final sprint. Thomas won the sprint when someone yelled it was “CLAYTON TIME” down the final stretch. Ben Coleman (NWVE) made it a little deeper into the race skiing with Michael Gaughan (MNC). Ben was the victim on the hard right on the first downhill of Ruthie’s, where he caught a tip on the inside of the turn, breaking his binding and getting a little bloody in the face. Rob Riley (Gunstock) and Nick Trautz (GMVS) were also part of this group. Tom Thurston (NWVE) fell hard on Eleanor’s but skied it out to the finish. Tom joined the club of many with a swollen nose and busted eyewear.
Perhaps it was good that Tyler Magnan was nursing a pulled muscle from the White Mountain Classic. Not trying to push too hard, he skied steadily with Owen Lenz (MNC). Wes DeNering (CSU) pulled a nice negative split, reeling in Rick Powell (Ford Sayre) and Jeff Palleiko (Gunstock) on his second lap. Jeff had a large bruise from a crash early in the race. Jud Hartman (NWVE) played it safe skiing with Rob Simms (CSU). Jud completed the double weekend looking strong, gliding up Teaching Hill among some of the Junior Women skiers.
In the Women’s Race, NWVE only had one entry, Jessica Bolduc. Unlike the Men’s Field, the Women’s did not have as clear a delineation of SuperTour vs Open Racer. Some of the local youth and retired GRP athletes made their way into the mix and held their positions. Greta Kilburn (MNC) got a top ten. Retired biathletes Susan Dunklee and Hallie Grossman showed they still have what it takes with top twenty finishes. Amy Caldwell (Caldwell Sport) hung in with Junior skiers Sadie Bell (Putney), Emily Linton (Craftsbury), and Paige Fieldhouse (GMVS) for a lap before caution overruled competitiveness on lap two.
Jessica Bolduc (NWVE) skied wire to wire with Kathy Dufour (University of Ottawa). Kathy paced off Jessica, but with a late surge overtaking Rosemary Shea-Cobb (MNC), Jessica gaped Kathy by 15 seconds at the finish line. Jessica was super psyched to complete the Brodhead Challenge! It was the first time she did the full marathon distance since 2011. Jessica was also happy to see that Anna Milkowski (Onion River) was only a minute up on her today.
Even though I did not get very far in the race, it was still a fun day. The SuperTour fields were amazing and made spectators realize how talented these skiers are. The top skiers were turning out laps in thirty-two minutes! Yes, the snow was that fast, but the talent was clearly on a different level. Craftsbury did a great job putting on an excellent weekend of skiing in difficult weather conditions. Judy Geer (Craftsbury) personally tracked me down to ensure the other NWVE athletes and I were okay after the race. Skiers were treated to a Craftsbury Village Store lunch before heading home. Craftsbury will now focus on next weekend’s Harvard Carnival and Eastern Cup.