Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Chasing Racers

with 2 comments

There’s an app for that. Family support for race participants becomes a sport in itself. One of the first challenges is interpreting event information provided by the organizers. Then there is the physical exertion of arriving at the correct spot at the precise moment to see specific racers along a 50-kilometer freestyle course. Having an app to show a skier’s progress is a helpful tool, but only part of the information needed in the role of spectator/support people.

Yesterday’s adventure began with the challenge of finding where skiers can be dropped off to catch a shuttle bus with time to spare to reach the starting point of the American Birkebeiner. Oft referred to as “The Birkie,” this is North America’s largest cross-country ski marathon and part of the worldloppet circuit of over 20 international ski marathons and it happens practically in the back yard of our lake place getaway.

When we got to town, taking the back route to dodge a suspected road closure (that turned out to be not closed) there was no obvious sign of where to find a skier drop off for the shuttle. We decided to make the drive to the race start ourselves. Knowing the route to Cable, WI was no problem but reaching the start required a lot of luck and a little bravado. As we got close, we found busses and followed one  past a sign that said “no entry.”

Our heroes, Ella W., and Ellie G. hopped out as the traffic volunteer was instructing us we couldn’t park there. Luckily, we had no intention of parking. We drove back to the house and watched the race progress on a live online feed.

When the time looked right, we drove to an access point somewhere near the middle of the race.

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Our intrepid first-time marathon skiers were in fine spirits and good form which was a wonderful thing to see for those who love them and are cheering from the sidelines. Once again, we headed back to the comfort of the house and some lunch while the athletes were outside pushing their limits in the elements.

With the app offering hints of their progress, we headed out again, this time in two cars so we could give them a ride back after the finish. Our first challenge was to find a place to park in the small town of Hayward where the population had expanded 20-fold for the weekend.

Since our first-timers Ella and Ellie started in the last wave of the race, a good percentage of people were already done and leaving so parking spots were opening up at random. We arrived on Main Street with time to scout out the scene and took up a position that unfortunately offered primarily shadowed views.

Regardless, we hollered excitedly at the sight of the girls taking their finishing strides.

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They had enough skiing for the day, that’s for sure. Gauging their assessment in the immediate moment of fatigue leaves room for interpretation. No matter what, it was a heck of an accomplishment for them. Endurance sports are not for everyone, but it is an honor to witness their achievements in person and live vicariously through their impressive efforts.

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2 Responses

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  1. What fun! And it looks like a beautiful sunny day! Congrats to the skiers!

    frisshop

    February 27, 2022 at 12:21 pm


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