Filed under: Family Camping, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking
Racing the Chama Chili Ski Classic
In my previous post, I wrote about discovering the 40th Annual Chama Chili Ski Classic, held over Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend, January 19-21, 2013. Terry and Ryan eagerly planned to compete as a training race for the 52K American Birkebeiner, held each February in Wisconsin. Learning all that was planned for the weekend and that it was all taking place a mere two hours from our home, we quickly made plans to attend as a family. This meant a great deal to all of us, as it is difficult to cheer them on at the Birkie as it is further away and would mean boarding three dogs for the duration. We were all excited to be able to enjoy this event as a family.
The guys needed to be there by 10 to complete registration so we left our home in Taos at 7:30 and headed northwest. When we arrived, it was apparent that others had found a unique way to eliminate the early morning drive. They had camped in the trail parking lot in order to take advantage of the entire weekend of events. While no services are available, there were porta-potties on site and, from approximately 9 to 5 each day of the event, a food wagon was selling simple cold and hot food items, right at the trail. Camping would have been a simple solution! And quite comfortable.
The weather was absolutely delightful, especially for the spectators! Approximately 40 degrees, the skiers were a bit warm but you could not have planned a nicer day to stand outside cheering the skiers on. Promptly at 11, the skiers took their mark for the group start.
Participants completing the 15K freestyle (skate-skiing) event, including Terry and Ryan, were informed as the race was about to start that, rather than 15K, they would actually be competing a 19K race. Not great news, but not the end of the world. Further, they were required to complete three circuits of the approximately 6.5K trail. And then they were off! Music blaring over the loudspeaker and our cheers urged them on.
As they came around the curve where we were standing for the first time, only about 1K into the race, I became concerned. Ryan came through first, moving more slowly than I have ever seen him moving on skis. Terry came a short while later, second to last in the pack of 23 who would complete the race, looking exhausted!
We eagerly watched for them to return, having now learned they were skiing at 10,000 feet above sea level and would be following a trail that climbed partway up a nearby peak to make the part of circuit we could not see. Both looked better on their second round, then began the long wait for the finish. One skier dropped out, finding the course too difficult. But our guys kept on skiing.
Ryan completed the course 16th overall, with a time of an hour and 21 minutes. He came through the finish line and collapsed exhausted in the snow beside the trail. Terry came in the last of the finishers, a valiant effort, with a time of one hour 55 minutes, relieved and exhausted with his effort. Both men achieved a wonderful training effect from their effort and we were all thrilled to have been there to see it happen!