We/ve come to expect almost anything from the weather at Cabin Creek for the various Kongsberger races, and this year's Ozbaldy did not disappoint. After blissful spring skiing on Saturday for the kids' races, and the expectation of more of the same on Sunday, many skiers (and volunteers) were caught by surprise by the SNOW! It snowed and snowed and snowed, then it eased up a little, and then it really really snowed. Finishers later in the pack found really tough going, but even the guys at the pointy end had to work hard to wrestle with all the fluffy white stuff. The pass was closed intermittently during the day, but that didn't matter too much because we had the cabin, the fire in the stove, and our own Kare and Aase keeping everyone well fed and happy all afternoon.
A great big thank you goes to our world-class groomer, Nick Whitman! Many thanks to all the volunteers, including (I know I'm missing some, but you are loved just the same!) Dale and Chris in the parking lot, Jim as be-everywhere do-everything chief of course, Augustina, Anne, and Tom as timers, Susie as bib collector, Kare and Aase, of course, in the kitchen, Meredith, who was the everywhere-helping hand whenever anything was needed, and Lisa, Kirstin, Mandy, Victor, Brandon, and a bevy of energetic kids at the feed station. Super big thanks go to the race directors Alex, Aaron, and Todd, one of whom is a relatively new member and the other two of whom are brand new members -- way to step up, guys! They did a terrific job of herding all the cats and keeping the process running smoothly. It was a really really fun day, and the pass finally opened and everyone went home with tired muscles and happy bellies, and some with a prize!
David Evans offers a cool perspective on the race, for when you're planning your schedule for next year:
Living up to its moniker, today’s Ozbaldy 50 K, boasting a first lap up and around its grueling eponymous loop, saw 68 Nordic ski endurance aficionados test their mettle in Kongsberger Ski Club’s annual 31 miles of speedy sylvan skate skiing… or slogging and surviving, particularly if you were like the author on the 5th of the race’s five10K laps.
The third of three in the club’s triumverate of excellently organized Nordic ski races each winter, whether you zip through it in a bit more than 2 hours, as the winners typically do, or approach it in a more measured 5 or 6 hours, the Ozbaldy is an equal opportunity event, inclusive of those who attend some of the world’s most competitive ski races (and do well while there!) as well as those for whom just completing 50K of anything without the benefit of battery power or the assist of an internal combustion engine is an accomplishment in and of itself.
Plus, for the race entry fee of a mere $30, you can have as much food, gatorade and water as you need at the superbly-staffed feed zone twice each lap and, once the race is done, you can further indulge in an all-you-can-eat buffet of chili, noodle soup, breads, desserts and beverages! Honestly, a deal like this doesn’t exist in the world of endurance racing anymore – unless you are lucky enough to live in the NW, know about the Kongsberger Ski Club’s devotion to the promotion of Nordic ski racing, and get to do the best March race anywhere, the Ozbaldy 50K.
And as if that’s not, the die-hards at Kongsbergers have attracted a number of sponsors for this race series, so not only does the wonderful volunteer staff take care of you during and after the race, but during the awards ceremony there are regular intervals where the proceedings are stopped, a few names are drawn, and the lucky ones get to walk away with things like beautiful jackets, expensive ski wax, gift certificates and such.
So, my advice is to begin right now training for next year’s Ozbaldy 50K. It may be a long race, I grant you, but you will attend no finer ski-racing event, and surely none at prices most Seattle folks can’t remember anymore!Some pictures of the day:
Feed station hustle and bustle, with skiers coming from both directions
All smiles at the feed station!
This guy left some of his face out on the course, so his pace-daughter skied the last lap with him to supervise
Expert service; the smiles are free!
Thanks, of course, to all the racers who fought the snow battle! Some won, some lost, but everyone gave it their best shot. It's been an amazing winter; train hard this summer, and we'll see you on the starting line next year!