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The Caribou Bog 2024

Cipperly Good

Despite my hope against hope that I could get away with hard wax at the Caribou Bog Classic 30K Race, I succumbed and pulled out the silver klister I scored at a race last year. There is a Good Family legend that klister climbs off your skis and gets on everything in the trunk of the car, your ski bag, and anything else in its path. But I digress...

Fifteen minutes to the start, I tracked down a torch to smooth the klister into the base of my skis. In my haste, leaning the ski up against my arm, I was warned not to set my race suit on fire. Did I mention yet how I missed having the NWVE race techs? I will note that the race start is about a half a Kilometer from the parking lot, and three races ago at the Bog, I missed the very important to be there on time.

Anyway, I was pleased with the silver klister- it climbed well and did not slow me down on the double-poles, and by kilometer 30, it didn't have much to scrape off or clean off.

Once again, the actual Caribou Bog did not have enough snow for racers to do a lap through a place more reminiscent of low bush and larch bogs of Scandinavia than your typical Maine scenery. Instead we made do with three laps of gentle climbs, tear-inducing and sharp curved single-track downhills, a soul-crushing out and back, and a double-pole flat back towards the finish.

About that soul-crushing out and back- the last two years at the Bog, I, for some reason, decided that this narrow track with barely noticeable rolling terrain is the place to refuel. I stuff cookies and PB&Honey sandwich bites in my leg pocket and then try to fish them out while still trying to ski. The slog is exasperated by the fact that because there is two-way traffic, you always have to stay to the right, and the track ends with a u-turn. The third lap, not needing to refuel, was a true joy on this track: I even got a tuck in. Note to self: pick somewhere else to refuel.

Another side note: when I registered for the race hours before the online registration deadline, I was the only female who signed up for the 30K. Perhaps I would only need to finish, and victory would be mine!?!? As the mass start sends the 10K, the 20K, and the 30K all out at the same time, with no rhyme or reason to the bib numbers, it is hard to tell who is racing what.

On lap one, I felt like my boot was too loose, so on lap two, I took a pit stop to tighten the laces. At the top of the only significant hill, which rumor has it, there are views of Mt. Katahdin from a side trail, but I have yet to see it; I heard someone gaining. Figuring it was the race winner lapping me, I kept out of the track. Alas, it was a challenger for my crown, Rachel Poppe, a 20-something female. While I held her off on the tear-inducing ascent, she caught me on the out-and-back slog. This is followed by a kilometer or so double-pole back to the start of the loop.

Remembering advice from White Mountain, I jumped out of the track and double-poled my heart out on the slightly glazed, skate-groomed trail to pull away. Hoping Rachel was only doing the 20K, I was slightly dismayed to look back and see her start the third loop—time to put the hammer down. Rachel seemed to climb better once again on that hill and was not daunted by the downhills, but I stayed ahead of her this time. Victory was mine and boy would I have felt pretty stupid if my boot tying and sandwich searching had resulted in second place.

We have in Maine a cross-country phenom by the name of Ruth White. Ruth won the New England XC Running Championship and was 6th in the Foot Locker Nationals. She is a short powerhouse that skis almost as good as she runs. Her younger sister Clara won the Caribou Bog 20K, as in overall, no matter the gender. Ruth was 2nd. Then, finally, a male. God help me when the White sisters move up to the 30K.

The award ceremony was a hoot. Turns out my competitor Rachel and her guy friend decided "last minute" to switch to the 30K from a shorter distance, so that threw everything into a bit of a frenzy. My laminated 1st place award was supplemented by a snazzy Swix hat with a Great Caribou Bog patch. Having just had to knit myself a new hat as my supply of winter hats have gone MIA one by one, I was really excited to get a hat. Alas, I did not win any of the "Race Director Homemade Hot Sauce" or old Alpine Ski Team jackets in the raffle, but I made out pretty well otherwise.

That's the race report.


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