Marquette, MI – January 23rd, 2016 – Every single year, I dream of the day that we get our first major snowfall which signals the start of the cross-country skiing season! I’ve lived in Marquette for over ten years now, and I’ve always wanted to do the Noquemanon Ski Race! This year, I took the plunge and finally decided to register, and I had a GREAT time!
I signed-up for the 50 kilometer freestyle (skate) race, and I’m so very glad that I did! Normally, I ski for about 25K, and this race was sure to be a great test. I wasn’t even sure that I would be able to finish, but I told myself going in that it was just a fun race. Thankfully, I get to ski on the Noque trail all winter long, and that gave me some confidence that, if I could get past the 25k marker, I could finish the race.
The time finally came, and I made my way to the start line. I found a spot at the back of the group, and waited anxiously as the butterflies in my stomach continued to grow. My nervousness began to fade away as I waited for the starting gun, and when it went off, my thoughts of failure evaporated completely.
The start of any race is always hectic, and this day was no different. I had set a goal for myself of being the first finisher in my wave, but the craziness at the start gave me serious doubt as to my ability to complete that goal. Eventually, I found my groove and got a good pace going with a group of skiers also from my wave. Just like any mountain bike race, I knew that I would have to get out ahead of my wave early if there was any chance for me to do well. At about 10K into the race, I was third in my wave, but I was able to keep up with some impressive skiers as the kilometers ticked away.
Halfway though the race, I found myself alone with my thoughts on the trail. For me, this was the hardest part of the race, but it was also my fastest section due to the lack of traffic from other skiers. When I got to the part of the trial that I ski on regularly, around the 22k marker, I knew that I was going to be able to finish. As I approached the finish line at the Superior Dome, I started to forget about how tired I was and started thinking about how I was going to place.
After I had crossed the finish line, I was filled with a bunch of different emotions. Mostly, I was just excited that I was able to finish my first cross country skiing marathon. I even completed the race a whole hour faster than I had originally planned!
A huge thanks goes out to all the sponsors and volunteers who helped out with the race! I’m already signed-up for next year’s race, and I can’t wait to do it all over again!