Over the last month, I’ve had the opportunity to take part in two races put on by Endurance North.
The first was the Chena River to Ridge, a 45 mile loop linking the Compeau and Stiles Creek trails, starting at mile 32 on the Chena Hot Springs Road. The 25 mile Compeau trail is graded very moderately the entire way, and the excellent grooming by the race organizers made it even better. The Stiles Creek trail is a little bit rougher, with quite a bit more ups and downs on the ridgelines, but was also very well groomed. I went out moderately, kept a fairly casual pace the whole way, and generally had an uneventful race. I finished in around eight and a half hours, for second place in the ski division (the field was pretty small).
|Overflow on the Compeau Trail from a pre-race scouting trip.|
|Louie is skeptical of snow machines.|
|Near the top of the Compeau trail.|
|Switchbacks near Twin Bears.|
Two weeks later, I skied the Tanana River Challenge, which was unfortunately foreshortened from 45 miles to 32, as a result of sub-zero temperatures at river level. The shortened TRC course followed the Tanana downstream for 6 miles, followed by a really pretty 20 mile loop through the forest, and back up the river to the start. I had intended to skate this race, but cold temperatures caused me to shy towards classic gear, a choice I somewhat regret; skating on the river, followed by kicker skins in the tighter sections of forest would have been ideal. As it was, I hardly needed to wax my classic skis, applying only a layer of ironed-on base binder, followed by a layer of ironed-on Toko X-cold. Any more wax would have been excessive.
I tried to push much harder at the Tanana River Challenge, partly due to the easier course, and partly due to the larger field of skiers. Throughout the race, I oscillated between third, fourth, and fifth place, but eventually got beat out by the skaters on the final 6 miles back up the river, for a fifth place finish in 5:28, about half an hour behind the winner. It was a slow day for skiing. I’m confident that with skate skis and faster conditions, I could decrease that time by well over an hour. Already looking forward to next year.