Race Report: Ozbaldy 50k
Another banner day for a ski race at Cabin Creek! Blue skies, lots of skiers, lots of snow ... we could get used to this! If you've thought about the 50k but are intimidated by those spandex people flying around the course, or the prospect of five laps seems a little much, then read on. This awesome race report by an anonymous back-of-the-packer could be just the nudge you need to ramp up your training this summer and challenge yourself to sign up for this great event next winter! See you there!
The nice thing about skiing the Ozbaldy at the back of the pack is that you get a chance to see some of the skiers twice - once at the start line and once when they come around again, having already completed an extra lap. Though the sun was out and the sky was blue this year, I noticed that not many of the skiers had their "I'm having my best race ever" faces on. I assume this is because the trail could only be described as "squishy". This was not a race in which the average skier could gracefully glide to a personal best. This was a long slog through slush, a test of balance and the will to finish.
Slush aside, it was a wonderful day to ski the Ozbaldy. After two years of asynchronous racing (which, let's be honest, was really just "going for a long ski with a watch on"), it was great to be at the start line with 75 strangers again. If you are woman who likes to race far in our region, you get to know the few other ladies who show up for the Ozbaldy each year - I'm thinking of Mona (woohoo! you won!) and Marlene (the perennial leader of the women's M4 pack) . And if you like to race at the back of the pack like I do, you get to ski with some of the same people year after year, forming bonds that can't really be made any other way (Ian, I'm looking at you!).
On my fastest days, I'm an "enthusiastic but mediocre athlete" (a euphemism, I'm sure). I'm never going to be one of the elite skiers zooming at the front of the pack. But I LOVE to ski the Ozbaldy. It's one of the highlights of my ski year. Yes, you ski the same loop five times - but that gives you a chance to chat with the same smiling volunteers at the feed station five times. Yes, the field is small compared to the Tour of Anchorage or the Birkie - but that gives you a much better chance to win a draw prize at the end. And the post-race chili made by the Kongsbergers? The best.
I was so glad to be back on the trail this year and I'm so grateful to all of the volunteers who made it happen. I hope more women and "mediocre athletes" come out and join in the fun next year. Its a wonderful way to spend a morning - even with slush.