It was to be an extremely long and cold day during the Grenaderen cross country ski race Saturday! In fact, I cannot remember ever being SO cold for so long.
The 90 km (55 mile) long trail has several extreme climbs, and some even worse downhills. In addition to the tough terrain was the extreme weather conditions. With -12 Celsius and snowing all day long, there was no mercy from mother nature. Our only slight advantage was that the cold wind was mostly with us.
The gun went off at 7:30 am, and there were about 600 competitors. I had some problems with my skis from the start, as I quickly found out that I had no glide whatsoever. This was my own fault for having prepped my skis wrong the night before. There were several food stations, and I stopped at each one to fuel up (thanks for the tip Tim). But after standing still for a few minutes, my hands would freeze up and it took about 30 minutes to warm them back up each time. Towards the end, my hands were so cold they hurt.
But I refused to give up, and even though I saw my time getting worse and worse, I just wanted to get to the finish line.
My final time would be 9:44:01.
I was hoping for 9 hours, but with these conditions, I was happy just to get to the end. Plus I have a shiny new medal and a diploma I can hang on my wall ;-)
Here is a profile from the race just to give you an idea.