The Bogburn has always had a little lore surrounding it. While there is not really a question in the mantra "Ski the Bogburn," there are things that need to be answered. What is a Bogburn? Bob Haydock, the long-time director of the race, can eloquently answer that, but it never satisfies Why the Bogburn? Of course, once you have Bogburned, you most likely will have the answer ingrained in you as the name suits the experience so well, and you will keep coming back for more. After a night of restless contemplation of how to attack the Virtual Bogburn, I rose to the occasion a bit grumpy due to a lack of sleep.
Questions of what I should do for a course kept me awake. Should I find the longest downhill I can and go for time? Should I trespass and set a track for a warm-up and then ski the race? How equivalent to the traditional Bogburn should I be? Should I go over to Hazen's Notch and ski the Ted Means course? Maybe climb Burnt Mountain, start at the top and use the runout on Route 58? Should I ski Dante's Loop, away from spectators and everyone? Would all the mass I have added to my abs shock the SMS and GRP Teams? Will my uniform even fit this year?
I decided to go to the Craftsbury Outdoor Center and slug it out on the humanmade loop. So, the decision answers the question, What would the Bogburn be like if it were held on a course, I can ski rather than one I fight against? I know it is a copout, and perhaps I will try the Dante's idea this weekend to make it more legit, but as I said, I spent a lot of energy overthinking it and ended up just wanting to get it over with. A Bogburn truism.
The course was the Craftsbury Manmade Outer Loop. I extended it as much as possible. I had a homologated course with bomb-proof tracks—a far cry from the usual. There were no water bars; my poles never punched through the ground up to my grip, the tracks never went into that ten-meter section where I am pretty sure it is just set mud after the earthen dam. Mud tracks are fine as long as they are not frozen. There were no hairpin turns, and there was no reason to thrash. It was a tame course designed and groomed by a team of perfectionists.
So, my physical condition is not the usual as I have not even done 20% of my racing quota this past year. Only six running races. No December ski races. Only one, more challenging ski effort last Saturday. Thus, all the mass I have added in the off-season.
I started at the Yurt and went out on Lemon's, taking the Ruthie's Cut Off onto Screaming Mimi and cresting the hill at Coaches Corner into the dip into the lower field, up Teaching Hill, across the Upper Field, onto Round-a-bit to the Junction with Murphy's, back to the old clubhouse between the Activity Center and Events building, down Teaching Hill back to the Yurt. To get to 13km and change, it was 6.5 laps of this finishing at the Coaches Corner. So, seven Screaming Mimi's.
The conditions were excellent. Pistenbully 400 groomed, temps steady in the high 20's, overcast with no wind. At the end of my warm-up, I inspected what SMS was using for kick. Some type of red, Rode WC -1-7, and some Oslo Violet. I was kicking fine on my Rode Multigrade Violet. I was using my trusty old RCS's with whatever was on them from before as my base. This is another Bogburn Truism. Not your best skis, and not a lot of prep. I also make sure they are a little slick so as not to rip out the soft tracks (if there are any left) on the traditional course.
I did not feel great; I was compromising what I really wanted to do mentally and was fatigued by the abandoned grandiose ideas that kept me up most of the night. After a 2.5 lap warm-up, I stripped to my racing threads and the Bogburn magic began. While this loop pales in comparison with the Bogburn course, it is still demanding.
I got underway in my usual fashion and was launched into the racing zone. An easy start can do that. I kicked up Screaming Mimi fine and thought that this was not going to be too bad. I found the trouble spot on the loop to be the Upper Field to Round-a-bit. I guess getting the heart rate up on Mimi; then a brief recovery turned Teaching Hill into a kicker that launched me through the ceiling. Going into the double-pole hurt, and for yet another season, I was reminded I ought to work on that. Don't worry; I won't.
During my race, some GRP and SMS Men were doing different workouts. It was nice to have some speedy company. The coaches were out, so of course, I had to try to step it up a little under their critical eye, especially after Pepa's presumption that the GRP would pass me at my pedestrian pace when skiing the weekend prior. At the Bogburn, I am familiar with being passed by someone wearing a bib number twenty-plus mine. Here my age was greater than twenty of theirs. We were all cordial, but there may have been some confusion about why I was dressed up in a racing suit and going for it with everything hanging out.
A Master's practice was also taking place. World Master's Medalists Trina Hosmer (Stowe Nordic) and Peter Harris (Craftsbury) were participating. So more familiar masked faces from the races were there. The Bogburn Magic continued as I checked my progress, thinking I must be close to done, only to find I was halfway. Just like in the real Bogburn! Do I really want to do this again!? I did. Heidi Caldwell cheered me as I trudged over the top of Screaming Mimi, recognizing I was up to something. I shouted, “Virtual Bogburn!” She kicked it up a notch with excitement – "nice, GO GET IT." Mansfield Nordic's Tom and Sheila Weaver gave encouragement at least once every lap. The racing mentality stuck through-and-through.
So, while not the usual Bogburn, many of the event's key aspects remained in place. The anticipation, the dread, the wax, and ski selection, trying not to get caught, the slow burn flaring into anaerobic despair on a course that will not give up, then starting the second half. The internal battle of mind over muscle and the encouragement out of the blue just when you need it most. So, to answer my question, "What would the Bogburn be like if it were held on a course, I can ski rather than one I fight against?” A blast getting a 13km PR!
There is virtually only one way to find out the answer to what the Bogburn can bring you this year – Ski the Bogburn!