Canadian Birkie, Feb 11th 2023
Third time of doing, second without pack, or ‘lite’. 55k. Rolling birch
landscape, lots of ups and downs resulting in a total elevation gain of
nearly 700m. Very different from where we live in Canmore. Clive at last
made the start line, his fifth time of trying. Natasha lining up to mash
her 31k, aiming to get under 3hrs. Clive with his first Canadian
Birkie, hoping to finish without injuring himself in around 6hrs. Me,
4hrs was my target, last year being 4.28.
Weather was marginal, with low snow levels and higher than normal temps.
However, the groomers had done a wonderful job on the Thursday and the
weather gods were in a favourable mood, with the morning temperatures at
-5C, and after midday +2C.
First or second start wave? First wave was billed at 3.30 or quicker. I
opted for towards the front of wave two. Mistake. For 5km we were
bunching, jostling, weaving and accelerating, to get past those who had
started in wave one but most likely finishing in 5-6 hrs. Quite fun, but
unnecessary stress for sure.
Up and down, around the bends, along the straights we go. Double poling
with ease and rhythm. Big grin on my face, as I sailed through all the
first three aid stations. I was trialing Hammer Perpetuem as my liquid
fuel and a big squeezey of Hammer Huckleberry gel, which I am actually
quite fond of. Both had their challenges - I had no idea how much I was
drinking as my liquid was in my hydration bladder in the back of my
pack, and the gel was just too cold to pull through the squeezy nozzle.
However, the bladder system worked very well for the act of drinking,
but the gel pack was clumsy and awkward.
Back to the fun I was having - which lasted two full hours. After this,
there was a very apparent temperature spike and the snow just changed.
For the worse. Flow stopped and hard work started. Over the second half,
I lost any advantage I had, finishing is 4hrs 14mins. There were
occasions when nice glide happened, but any flow was short lived. I
passed a couple of skiers who had stopped to rewax their skis, but I
seemed to be holding my own. 40-50km was hard, with a long stretch
alongside a fence line. Never seemed to stop! However, the 50k marker
was passed and the adrenaline started to flow. Fun time, though hard
work. I was very happy to see Natasha and the finish line.
Natasha finished a storming 2hrs 49m, very happy indeed. Clive completed
the 55km lite in 6hrs 01 min, very happy just to complete it. I raced
well, and as ever held my own over the course. I started off 14th
through the first checkpoint and ended up 11th in my age.
I only fell the once - whilst stationary at an aid station. Although the
plan was to not to use any stations, I fancied a cup of water at one of
them. I had the usual banter exchange as I skied in of ‘what do you
want’ ‘water!’ ‘Gatorade’ ‘ no, water’ ‘I have gatorade. You want
water?’ ‘Yes, please, water’ and then promptly got my skis and poles in
a tangle, face planting the snow ahead in the process. At least I gave
all something to brighten up their morning :) .
Once in the massive but draughty public tent, I realized I was in a sort
of heaven. The muffins had run out, the hot dogs not appealing but there
in front of me was a Costco box of Tetley tea bags and an urn full of
boiling water. The icing on the cake was the thermos of milk I had
bought myself in my drop bag. Happy Tim! Clive came in happy but pretty
tired, having had a wonderful ride. He had finally done the Canadian Birkie.
Great organization by the Birkie committee. Kudos to all. Not convinced
with all the viking costumes or the Viking Keep Fit warm up at the start
though. Work needs to be done with the start wave selection, as too many
start way ahead of their realistic finish time. It is a very much all
inclusive, all encompassing event which I would love to do again. But
next time sub 4hrs.
Here are some simple and important things to remember when taking of your cross country skis this season!! Also check out our video at the bottom of Strides Staff Member Scott showing you how to wax your skis using liquid glide!
- Skin skis and skate skis still need glide wax on their bases (think moisturizer for your skin). Liquid glide is super easy!
- Aim to glide wax every 40-50km
- Caring for your skin is also important to keep it in good shape
- Always clean your bases off before applying any wax
- Snow temps are slightly cooler than air temps
We are bringing our Athlete of the month series back for February… We started this blog series to showcase a local athlete connected to the store and community and ask them questions about their sport and learn from their experiences!
This month we are featuring Strides Staff member Anna Sellers who qualified to represent Team Canada in Europe this season at Open European Championships in Switzerland and IBU Cup in Austria for biathlon. We are very happy to see Anna racing well and representing her country again after many years of injury. Anna has been working with us from the very start of our store and keeps returning to us whenever she moves away for skiing. Even when she is on the road she is still our photo/social media expert and will always have a place with us at Strides!
What got you into xc skiing and biathlon?
I grew up in Canmore with parents who were very into xc skiing. I started off in Jack Rabbits, like many other kids who grew up in Canmore, and then continued into the Track Attack program with Canmore Nordic. I then started biathlon because I wanted an extra night of skiing because I enjoyed it so much when I was 12 years old.
What are your goals for biathlon?
My main goal for my sport is to be able to compete in an international competition at home. I grew up watching Beckie Scott, Sara Renner and Chandra Crawford medalling at world cups in my backyard and that is what inspired me to do the sport. I still want to be like them even now that I’m older :)
Tell us a little about your highlights of racing in Europe so far…
My favorite race so far in Europe has been the Single Mixed relay in Lenzerheide Switzerland. I was competing in a large field with a lot of strong athletes who are often at the World Cup. Despite slower skiing I was able to have the best and fastest shooting out of everyone in the race which I am very happy with! Other highlights of Europe have been seeing friends from other countries like the USA and Switzerland and also eating a lot of Milka and Haribo!
What’s next for the rest of your season?
After my biathlon competitions I will be competing in a 42k skate race in the Dolomites in Italy before returning back to Canada. After that I will have more competitions in Whistler, Revelstoke, Quebec, Silverstar and possibly Canmore… I will let you know if I’m back racing in Canmore ;)
Thanks for answering these questions for us Anna and good luck in the rest of the season. If you want to follow along with Anna’s racing check out her instagram @anna4036