Friday, January 13, 2012

Epic Misery

With Gunnar Hagen right around the corner, Inge reflects on last year's unforgettable conditions and the almost-as-bad conditions in a race she didn't do in Norway last week that turned into a classic Inge-adventure.  Her story, her photo ... (I love this picture; it makes me want to go outside!)

Nothing will ever – EVER – match the bonk of the 2011 Gunnar Hagen, nor will any racing conditions ever – EVER – match the misery of the 2011 Gunnar Hagen (If anyone forgot, the race course was washed out by torrential downpour). But the 2012 Budorrennet at Budor, Norway, was also a frigid experience for yours truly, even though it was not even a real race for me. January 7, 2012 was a classic winter day: About 15 F, pretty windy and thick snow.

Given that I was going to do a race feature from the 45K classic Budorrennet by Hamar today, I luckily had a great alibi for not having to actually race the event, since I had to be on location to take pictures of the start and the finish. The event, which is also a seeding event for the Norwegian Birkie, attracted 459 racers from all over eastern Norway. It is also the first seeding race of the season, so that explains some of the interest in the event.

There was a 15K version advertised on the race flyer, so I thought this would be perfect. However, nobody signed up for the short course. So it was cancelled. To my huge disappointment. But I arranged with the race director that I would cover the start, then stash my camera back in the car and do my own start 10 minutes later. I would race to the first feed station (13.25K) and back, which would be a great “race” time trial and also put me back to the start/finish with time to spare before the top 45K racers would be finishing. In theory.

In practice, it went like this: heading out, I quickly started catching racers toward the end of the pack and that’s as good as wearing a bib. I was in the zone, race face on. Skis were fast, kick was great, body was cooperating. I got to the feed station feeling pretty good about my “race,” turned around and realized that it was really, really snowing, and the wind severely reduced visibility. And the race course is only marked in the direction of the race.

Coming back, I missed a turn. All of a sudden, I was lost for real. Everything on the tundra looked the same. 26.5K should have been completed in 1hr30 +/-. The wind and the temp made for quick drain of energy, already depleted by the race effort, and didn’t carry food or water (slap me). I was wet, shivering, cold, and lost. I decided to ask the natives. And finally found some that could tell me the Nordic stadium was miles from here. While I didn’t feel like moving another inch, I had no options but to crawl there.

I barely made it in time to grab the camera and note pad and greet the first 45K racer. So much for changing into dry clothes and getting fuel. Result: I got the pictures, I got my quotes and I sat inside waiting for the awards wearing wool underwear, Sorels, a down coat and a hat, wishing I could type with mittens because my hands were still cold.

1 comment: