Thursday, February 9, 2017

City of Lakes Loppet Race Report

From our club  member Paul Gooris:

Just finished the Puoli Classic ("half marathon") at the City of Lakes Loppet in Minneapolis.  This year, City of Lakes hosted the AXCS Masters National Championships; next year they host the World Master Championships.  Being a dedicated mid-packer, the podium, let alone age group accolades are not on my ticket.  But it was fun to ski in such a large event (152 skiers in the Puoli), and meet skiers from across the country of all ages and abilities.  

In addition to the marathon and half marathon, there was a ski tour, skijoring events, crew ski (awarded to the leading fund raisers for the CoL Foundation, this a 50 meter dash with teams of 6 skiing together on 20 foot long skis), and youth age group races (see photos).  

And those are just the events I saw on Saturday; other events were held on Friday and Sunday.  Think of the crowds that attend local road marathons or the NM State Cross Country meet, and you'll have an idea of Nordic's following in the upper Midwest.

Matt Liebch (?sp), former Birkie winner, won the marathon race in roughly 1 hour, 15 minutes. That may seem like an extraordinarily fast time...but this brings me to the more serious and concerning part of my report.  The City of Lakes marathon and half marathon are traditionally point-to-point races that start in Theodore Wirth Park and end in downtown Minneapolis, being 42K and 21K respectively. This year, however, there has been very little snow in the Minneapolis area.  The courses had to be changed and confined to loops of mostly man-made snow within the Theo Wirth Park itself.   The marathon was 30-32K (so Matt's time is still screaming), and the half was 14-15K. 

Lack of snow has been a problem for several years, to the point where the City of Lakes Loppet Foundation has invested heavily in snowmaking.  Across the board, skiers were commenting on the shortage, and those from out-of-area, like myself, found it weird to think that there was more snow at home than in Minnesota.

While perusing the vendors and exhibits in the "big tent", I met a group that is trying to draw attention to our changing winters. Regardless of the cause, climate change is happening, and it is having an adverse impact on our sport as well as the rest of our lives.  If you are interested, check out Cool Planet Skiers at Their motto: Saving Winter for Future Generations.