Monday, January 8, 2018

Gunnar Sloggin'

We've come to expect this, haven't we, and even take a certain amount of pride in this.  After all, as DT so notably pointed out, "If it were easy to wax for, this race would be for [little kitty cats]."  As it was, we had rain and freezing rain and wintry mix in the days leading up to the Gunnar Hagen, and the temperature never got below freezing the night before.  But never mind that; there was a big festive pre-race crowd in the waxing shed and an army of waxing benches set up in the stadium area, all testing ... red klister?  Purple klister?  Zeroes?  Skins?  It was snowing hard just before race time, but that quickly changed to serious rain, and, as David Evans said, you needed a different wax for every lap!

Still, 61 racers lined up for the 30k, with 32 7.5k racers right behind them.  In the 30k, there were 13 women; the winner was Heleene Tambet in 2:01, originally from Estonia, then a cross country runner at the University of New Mexico, and now a member of Plain Valley Nordic Team.  Second was Sarah Widder from Seattle, and third was Marlene Farrell from Leavenworth Nordic.  The men's race was led from start to finish by powerhouse Michael Karas in 1:34, followed by Rune Harkestad, Pierre Niess from Plain Valley, and Jeff "I'm the race director; I don't have time to wax!" Hashimoto, who double poled the whole race and finished in 1:45.

As usual, the 7.5k race was dominated by juniors, which is so awesome -- these kids are our future! -- with Andreea Ghizila (Momentum Northwest) winning the women's race in 29:29, followed by Sadie Hansom (Momentum Northwest) and Ruthmabel Boytz, and Isak Larson (Ellensburg Ski Team) winning the men's race in 25:23, followed by Cooper Jackson and Blair Voorhees, both from Momentum Northwest.  But skiers with a few more trips around the sun under their belts put in an impressive showing, too.  In the women's race, the first finisher over 21 years old was Carey Gazis, in fourth place, and in the men's race, the first eight finishers were 16 years old, followed by ... 70-year-old Jeff Eustis!  I love this.

(The link to the full results list is on the Kongsberger website.)

The pre-awards ceremony featured a pull-up contest in the cabin among some of the men whose arms weren't tired enough yet from racing.  Rune led the pack with 18, and then someone said, hey, maybe the women should give it a try.  So Ruth Cordell, former gymnast, hoisted her tiny frame a number of times, and then Andreea stepped up and whipped out 20!  The men can be forgiven if they were surprised to be chicked in a pull-up contest, because Andreea is a ringer: a world-class sprint canoeist on the US Junior Sprint Canoe Team who won a bronze at the Olympic Hopes in Hungary last year and has her eye on the 2020 Olympics.  You go, girl!

And then on to the awards and prizes.  Jeff Hashimoto did his usual masterful job of keeping the crowded cabin full of hungry tired skiers engaged in the proceedings as he announced winners and handed out prizes.  The Master of the Ages award went, no surprises here, to Rune, with Ginny Price in second.  Many thanks to our sponsors Helly Hansen and Ascent Outdoors for the fun prizes!

Big big thanks to our fabulous groomer Nick, working with less than ideal conditions to make us some beautiful tracks!  Many thanks also to the legion of volunteers who make the race happen: race director Jeff Hashimoto, timing chief Augustina Harper, chief of course Jim Slyfield, kitchen czars Kare and Aase Gjolmesli, parking lot enforcers Jim Felty and Doug Holtan, feed station stalwarts Siobhan Knowles, TJ Owen, June Lindsey, and Andrew Gastineau, course monitors Max Limb, Keith Ritland, and Eber Teeter, stadium workers Jeff McGrew, Jim Repsher, Jim Lindsey, and Isaac Harkestad, and all of the many others who stepped in to help set up the stadium area and the course markers, to help with the parking, to help in the kitchen, to help at the feed station, to help with the timing, to pick up bibs and to cheer for the finishers and to clean up the cabin afterward (thanks, Momentum kids!) and to do the countless invisible jobs that need to be done.  You all are heroes!

And of course, thanks to all the racers who looked at the rainy forecast, shrugged their shoulders, and put on a race bib and did their best, whatever that was on that day.  You are heroes too, and we look forward to seeing you next month for the Stampede!

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