general post by Colin; race reports authored by each athlete [all photos by Midge Eliassen]
The New England cold was sharp as ever today. The bustle of cars and people was like nothing I’ve ever seen at Oak Hill during my years on JNT. CSU, Maine Winter Sports, Mansfield Nordic, GNA, Ford Sayre, and many other teams and individuals from across the land were running, shouting, laughing, chatting, waxing, and skiing everywhere you turned. In retrospect, the quiet twists and turns of every trail and the windy stadium were transformed beautifully. The spice of life was here for the day. It was time to show the rest of New England the extreme course we call our home trail.
For the first time in too many years, racers spilled out onto the steeps and twists of Oak Hill. The U16 boys took to the course first.
Adam cannot report on the race itself, as he was home recovering from the flu – but the poster he sent of a grasshopper likeness of himself cheering madly graced the tent and we all felt his energy throughout the day!
[The U16 boys apparently have no other comment…]
Jack surely had no regrets about wearing his warm up pants during his race, the temperature refusing to rise as the day progressed. This was one tough day. Nonetheless, Erik, Chris, and Colin were ready to take a stab at the course they’d grown up on.
Sara: When I arrived at the site, I was a little taken aback. I hadn’t seen so many competitors here in so long, and they were all going to be racing on my home course- which I heard various comments about, but that is what made me excited. I have skied here almost everyday this winter, doing intervals up the hill from the dam, working on those S turns, and now I would finally be able to use that experience in a big race. For me the race went pretty well, oddly enough, I like the steep ups more than the flats (luckily there aren’t to many of those on this course), and was able to take a good line on the S turns-ridin’ the berm. It was a very fun race and I am really excited to do it all over again next year as part of the women’s division.
Perrin: Even though this was our home course, I was still intimidated by how hilly it was. I didn’t feel very good during my warm up, but my race was better than I expected. Although I didn’t feel too snappy, all the practice on the S turns payed off and I felt steady and fast going down them. And of course the best part of the day was drawing on the van windows after all of the races!
The girls and women had broken in the course for the men, their faces more tape than skin in an effort to evade the frostbite that inevitably claimed TONS of racers.
It’s Colin here, and let me tell you something. When people talk about home course advantage, don’t take that for granted! Boy oh boy, the hills on this course are the greatest I’ve encountered so far, and it would have been a whole lot messier if I hadn’t known them like the back of my hand. I distinctly remember reaching the highest point on the Kendal Field hills and surveying men attempting to scramble up the hills, yet so tired that they were backed up in lines. Sheesh! The last test of my knowledge of this course came on the final turns as I came through the S-turn and down into the stadium. With so much use over the course of the day, those turns were more dangerous than running blindfolded over banana peels while carrying scissors. Take my word for it! But I had nothing to lose and I cut the turns insanely close, gaining unheard of speed that gained me at least 4 places in the last kilometer. I even made sure to duck under the pine tree and smack the needles as I came plowing into the stadium. As a Senior, it doesn’t get much better than spending my last Eastern Cup testing myself against the hardest course I know and train on.
A shout out to the Ford Sayre Masters who gave it their all along side us that day. You set a great example of what we can one day be!
Erik: The Silver Fox Trot has always been an awesome mass start BKL race that I would always look forward to when I was younger, and I would always watch all the buses and cars pass by Garipay as they made their way down to Oak Hill, to arrive at another part of the Silver Fox Trot, just older people!! And when I heard that this year we would hold The Eastern Cup part of the SFT I was excited because I just love Oak Hill and all its little twists and turns. I was slightly disappointed when I woke up Saturday morning to discover that my throat was still very sore, and my cough had gotten worse. I knew that if I raced, it would not help my health, but hey, I wasn’t about to miss out on racing my home course, which I know so well. My race was great, I felt really good right from the beginning, and finished strong, so I couldn’t ask for anything much better.
And more photos of the day! Alums, those who don’t appear above, etc. (If you are an email reader, click through to the web page to see this gallery!)