The following entertaining report was emailed to me by our enthusiastic and invaluable SkinTrack contributor Jonathan Shefftz.
How it all went down
» Results are posted at the FB page – https://www.facebook.com/NERandoRaceSeries
My hypoxic recollections are something like the following:
Jerimy wanted to be all anti-social so he pretty much went off by himself for the win. Although maybe he just wanted some solitary peace and quiet after dealing with three kids in diapers.
Meanwhile, Duncan and I were much more sociable in our back-and-forth battle for second, even squeezing in some getting-to-know-you conversational snippets at transitions.
I took the initial lead – the Junk Show lead – by breaking my boots before the race. Would have taken only a few minutes to substitute in a random bolt or nail or whatever for the walk-ski lever bolt that fell off somewhere/sometime after I rode the lift to flag the descent, but I didn’t notice it until after the pre-race briefing, so I had time only to switch into an old pair of boots I’d tossed into my car just in case.
The initial road run from last year that Pete and I had worried on Thursday might be too icy, was now so snowy that we skinned it instead. Duncan passed me on the road, but I thought with his heavier boots that he couldn’t maintain that pace for the entire race – turned out I thought wrong! I kept him in sight though, and then near the top I started skinning frantically to take the lead – the Junk Show lead again, as I had forgotten that something about the worn and sheared lugs on my old boots can sometimes flip the pin cover on one of my bindings. So I had an inadvertent skin>ski>skin binding transition.
Coming over the Upper Flying Cloud headwall, I saw that Duncan was gentlemanly hiking up to help someone retrieve a lost ski. Oh wait, that’s *his* Fischer RCX ski (the sample pair great deal in the spring from Skimo Co – probably many many thousands of dollars of Jason’s gear at our race). Well, reassuring to know that those Dynafit LTR bindings are capable of releasing in a crash.
I was terrified following Jerimy’s tracks up the boot pack with my defective crumbling sole rubber, but fortunately the climbing conditions were a bit better for the first bootpack ascent than on Thursday, and then on subsequent climbs all the traffic matted down the new snow nicely (instead of how it just sheared off in the parking lot, which was terrifying).
Duncan might have evened up the Junk Show tally on the second skintrack ascent, as I kept hearing all sorts of disturbing clanking sounds from behind me. However, I then cemented my Junk Show lead for the day at the skin>ski transition, when I heard a loud snap. Oh, right, I hadn’t bothered replacing the frayed cord since replacement takes only a few minutes, but of course I didn’t have a few minutes now. I thought I was a DNF for sure, but I started skiing at a moderated pace by keeping the lever in ski mode and just leaning back against the cuff, w/o any retention going forward. Any fall though would be a sure fracture with my lower leg so mobile in the boot, but the race was just too much fun at this point to stop!
With Duncan now gaining on me during every descent, I needed all my ascents and transitions to be perfect. I felt like my new Atomic skins had mad glide for double poling, so at the first opportunity on the backcountry skintrack I tried to max that out, only to fall as my skis jetted out from underneath me just like little Micayla always does on her xc skis (including numerous times last night on the hill in front of our house). Unfortunately (from my competitive perspective) Duncan didn’t see this, as I’m sure he would have been incapacitated with laughter and hence lost even more time than I did from the fall.
For the skin>ski transition, one of my quick-release Leki straps wouldn’t release, so I tried transitioning with one strap still attached before my brain received some oxygen and instructed my hand to undo the velcro. This slowed me down a bit for the subsequent ski>skin, skin>boot, boot>skin, and skin>ski transitions (yes, we had to set some sort of record during this race for transitions, with three circuits of skin, ski, skin, boot, skin, ski), but I hammered the boot pack, although Duncan was still very close. I knew everything had to go perfectly for me, so I clicked into my binding for the final skin only to immediately step out.
Then for the final ski I took a few extra seconds to put my suit gaiter around the upper buckle to force it to stay in ski mode, but of course it immediately came loose, so my final full ascent was entirely in walk mode, not even able to lean back against the cuff. Within a minute, Duncan appeared at the finish, where Jerimy had been waiting patiently for us ~7 minutes.
Alex came in fourth for a strong skimo debut as I expected, with some assorted Junk Show tales as well.
Hard man Soviet climber Dima came in fifth, which surprised me, as I almost expected a DNF should he find the bootpack so much to his liking that he might just end up lapping that all day, both up and down.
Some tele guy slipped in ahead of Pete, who spent something like 20 minutes coming out of his ice-over binding (probably new snow glopped up with his drooling and slobbering) instead of spending 20 seconds to clear it out with a ski pole tip.
Another notable finish was Morgan in 10th, complete with downhill boots, Atomic/Salomon binding monstrosities, and matching skis.
Overall, everything about the lengthened course worked out really well, with my only regret the impending ski area expansion. However, when I was deflagging the final work road, as I was about to call out to three skinners emerging from the mtn bike trail that they should have done the race and should also get lighter gear, I realized first that one of them was my near namesake Jon S. – our third nice chat in as many weeks, and this time he told me the expansion area won’t affect the backcountry skintrack much.