March 24th was the Ken Jones Classic Ski Mountaineering Race. Nick and I drove from Vancouver to Golden on Friday and stayed at the Rondo Motel
We managed to do the entire drive during daylight and I had enough time to go for a walk around Golden to stretch out my legs before the sun went down. Nick had an upset stomach on the drive up and was feeling pretty under the weather by the time we got there. Assuming he had eaten something that didn’t agree with him, he spent the afternoon napping.
With the time zone change, we woke up at 4am and headed out for Lake Louise. The drive was quick and we got registered for the race. It was a chilly -12 C at the start and the sun had not yet hit that side of the mountain. It was tough to decide what to wear in order to stay warm for the first part of the race but not overheat when the sun came out.
The first climb was on the groomed ski runs and I found it to be a bit steep in order to keep the pace. I fell in with Peter Knight who I knew to be near my speed. We were sitting in second and third when Andrew McNab overtook us.
There was a solid chase group of national team members just behind us.
Higher up the climb, we came to a section of proper skin track. Ian Gale passed us and the three of us skied together for most of the rest of the race. The first three descents were sufficiently technical on chopped up snow that I was able to make up time on the racers around me with my big skis. On the last climb I was a few seconds behind Peter, sitting in 5th place. I hoped that the last descent would give me a chance to overtake him but it proved to be an easier one. I was unable to make up any time and finished 5th as the first non-national team member for the second race in a row. Nick finished in the middle of the pack after suffering through the race feeling pretty sick.
The course had four climbs and four descents with a net elevation loss and one bootpack section.
Climb # – Ascent (meters) – Avg HR – Rate of Ascent (m/min)
1 – 611 – 181 – 17.02
2 – 217 – 176 – 15.36
3a (skinning) – 189 – 173 – 15.66
3b (booting) – 82 – 173 – 16.63
4 – 541 – 166 – 13.38
Similar to the Dogtooth Dash, I started out significantly harder and faded on the later climbs. I think a little pacing here would go a long way to allowing me to finish stronger.
When I compare my heart rate and climbing speeds for the last two races in this graph, it appears that I was climbing more efficiently in the most recent race. The lines indicate my speed at any given heart rate and in the most recent race, the line is higher. This shows that at the same heart rate, I am climbing faster. In a controlled environment, this could be explained entirely by increased fitness and efficiency. Because it is in the field though, there could be confounders. Snow conditions would be a big one. Depending on how well the skins grip the snow would seriously effect my efficiency. Other factors such as heat and hydration could play a role. I suspect these are minimal however and I think that the biggest difference is fitness and being more familiar with the style of racing.
After the race, we hung out at the resort, waiting for the awards ceremony. We hit the road and made it back to Squamish by 1am.
A few other thoughts on the race: My skis are significantly heavier than the rest of the group. Next year, an upgrade to race skis will help make up important seconds. My transitions are still pretty quick. As long as I stay calm and pay attention to what I am doing I can keep up with the fast guys. My new CAMP Rapid 260 Race Backpack worked great. The ski attachment system works fine and the tool box is a great water bottle holder. My clothing choices were a little better but I still was sweating pretty bad in the sun. A proper race suit would be great and make carrrying skins easier. A slightly shorter race, I found myself keeping a bit of energy in reserve when I should have finshed stronger. With a downhill finish, the true finish line is the top of the last climb. I took three Hammer Gel packets and finished almost 750ml of Hammer HEED. This is around 370 calories total during the race, which does not seem like very much considering it cost me around 2000 calories. The gels are a bit tough to eat cold – they get to be a very slimy consitency. It would also be nice to have one bottle with energy drink and another with plain water to wash things down.