I participated in another episode of WTF SkiMo last weekend. The Crowbar Backcountry Ski Race is held near Logan, Utah and it is one of the only ski mountaineering races held entirely in the backcountry meaning outside the bounds of any ski resort.
It has pretty much been non-stop snowing in Utah since Christmas and race day was no different. It took nearly four hours of precarious winter driving conditions to make it to the race start just to find out the race had been delayed an uncertain amount of hours. The large dumping of snow through the night necessitated some course re-marking and re-routing so the race started two hours later than planned.
Last year I participated in the recreation course (5.9 miles, ~3,000 feet of climbing) and this year I was determined to step up to the race course (10 miles, ~6,000 feet of climbing). I opted to use some wider skis (no skinny ski stoke for me!) because of the huge amount of snow and I wanted to enjoy (not die!) the downhill.
After two hours of freezing my bum off and burning all my breakfast calories trying to stay warm, we were off into the snowy, blowy mountain. I felt great during the first climb (2,000 feet), but totally trashed my quads on the first descent. The snow was deep and wet and I couldn’t see a thing so I wasted too much energy slowing myself on the downhill. Visibility was close to zero and I launched off a rock or stump or something, but landed it on uneven terrain and was very proud I didn’t crash.
I came into the first transition laughing because my legs were shaking so terribly and I could barely stay standing to put my skins back on. Luckily, my legs felt better as soon as I started climbing again. The second climb was way too short and I wasn’t prepared to go downhill again. I took my time with the transition and tried to attack the downhill a bit more aggressively which lasted about 5 seconds until my quads were burning so badly I thought I was going to pee myself.
During this descent I biffed it pretty good and wound up in a tree well, which depleted way to much of my diminishing energy stores to crawl out of. At the bottom of the descent, the volunteers asked if I was rec or race and almost convinced me to head towards the finish. But I have NEVER NOT finished a race so they told me I better hurry up because I only had an hour until the time cutoff. I was feeling like sh!t on the third uphill and thought there was no way in hell I was doing it again (had to do 2 laps of this uphill for the race course), but then I started telling myself to believe in my training and get my ass moving and it worked and I got a second wind.
I took my time on the downhill and made it with three minutes to spare and headed up for the second lap. The fifth uphill was short and I got my third wind because I knew the finish was close. It is a long, flat skate to the finish and as I turned the corner and saw the finish everyone started to cheer and I heard them announce me as the Women’s Heavy Metal Champion. Considering I finished last and was the only female heavy metal participant, that was only slightly awkward. But heck, I’ll take it because I finished and it was damn challenging!
SkiMo is HARD! And I still can’t decide what I think of it – part of me loves how challenging it is and part of me hates it with a fury. I really enjoy training for it and what the training has done for my running fitness, but sheesh it is soooo hard!
Regardless of how much I do or do not hate SkiMo, the Crowbar people put on an awesome event. The volunteers were super supportive and fun, the beer was apparently good although by the time I finally finished it was all gone, and the raffle prizes were awesome although I didn’t win any, but I am stoked on my gigantic engraved crowbar award that I didn’t care!
Wasatch Powder Keg is up next on March 5 so I guess I will be giving this SkiMo thing another go.