Interestingly, most of the time when I consider an adventure it seems like such a good idea on the surface. A couple of weeks ago I reached out to Chad Brackelsburg, one of the organizers of the Wasatch Powderkeg, to see if they needed any help with the race. In the past I would have been gearing up to race the trifecta of events, but due to other commitments and lack of snow I decided that volunteering would be the better idea. Chad said they could use the help, but that I should consider racing the individual race. He planted the seed and it grew into a sign up for the race in a matter of hours. After all, I have been running a ton of vertical this winter and skiing some, mostly with my daughters, so it would be fine, right? Oh yeah, and the Powderkeg is exactly one week after RUFA, where this year I ran up and down Grandeur Peak 6 times for a total of 20,000′ plus of ascent/descent.
Fast forward a few days and I am standing at the finish of the sprint race helping with timing. It felt great to be around so many friends that I hadn’t seen all season and to see the skimo stoke cranking on high. The race had great turnout and the racers all got after it. When the dust settled there was a mix of the usual suspects and some new faces in the top 10.
The individual race started at 8:00am the next morning. As I got ready for the race I tried to think back to the last time I had donned race gear; from what I could reckon it was in December, and only that one time. “Oh well,” I thought, “it will be fine.” Admittedly, I was very stoked to pass through the final gear check in to the start corral, and my adrenaline surged as I made my way to near the front of the group. With a short countdown the race was off and almost immediately I knew I was in for a healthy dose of beatdown.
The front of the field quickly gapped me, along with several other less familiar faces. I think I was somewhere around 15th at the top of the first climb. Then came the clearest lesson of the day, you can hang on in a skimo race on the uphill by using running as training, but running downhill does not substitute for racing downhill on skis. The first descent to the last descent where all the most pathetic displays of “racing” downhill I have ever done. Granted, the skiing conditions were far from ideal, but I had nothing in the legs to try to power through the breakable crust, icy moguls, or anything else for that matter.
In the end I finished in 13th place. Frankly, the result was better than expected and despite suffering pretty hard at points during the race, I had fun! As soon as I was done I swapped clothes and jumped into volunteering. After the awards were finished I got the chance to go help set some of the course for the next day’s Team race, and to dig a really big transition zone at the bottom of the roped boot pack. After, we skied down, met with the rest of the crew, and enjoyed a few minutes of down time together before calling it a day. Back at the cabin there was a ton of work done on logistics and coordinations for the teams race. Due to a funeral and a trip to Europe for Pierra Menta three fourths of the race committee would not be present for the entire day. I was pinch hitting to cover for Emily.
It was a blast volunteering the next day. There were so many exciting stories told by the racers as they finished that it made it very rewarding to have played a small part in the efforts of the race organization. It turned out that I had almost as much fun racing as I did helping with the event. The Powderkeg is such an amazing weekend and the folks that make it possible are a very dedicated crew.
I may have stepped back from the skimo racing scene for a while, but it was sure fun coming back into the fray at the ‘Keg. I am not sure if I will make a full effort to get back into the Skimo race scene next year, but I can guarantee that I will spend a bit more time in the race gear, you know, just in case.