Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Top 10 Best/Worst Rock and Ice Moments

I wonder why I'm having a hard time getting back in work-mode...?

The hype of Rock and Ice is cooling off and aside from all the warm/fuzzy feelings from the event, some great memories and a firm handshake for second place (!), it's time to get back to 'real' work.

As I sit in my office procrastinating, I can't stop thinking of going back next year for more suffering - and of course, another shot at winning the diamond! I'm not sure why these events appeal to me so much but the urge to go back for another beating seems ever present - or maybe it's simply the desire to get fit again...

With that said, I thought I'd share some of my top 10 best/worst moments at this year's Rock and Ice - a bit of a compilation of my 'behind the scenes' experience of the event - Enjoy!

Top 10 Best/Worst Moment of the 2009 Rock and Ice Ultra

10. That feeling of numbness creeping in your big toe that makes you wonder: "...Is that frostbite creeping in...?" Not a good feeling when you realize you still have 2hrs of racing ahead of you!

9. Gagging on a Mars bar(!) on the last day as I was having a hard time taking on any food (I couldn't stand to even look at gels or blocks at this point).

8. Waking up with a swollen left cheek (on my face that is) due to frostbite on Day 6 - I felt like I had been kicked in my sleep (or maybe it was Mike sleep-walking??)

7. Putting my ski boots back on my feet on Day 4 and realizing that my feet have swollen up in size...makes for a very uncomfortably tight feeling, especially in -25C weather!

6. Cruising without effort on bare ice with 5km to go in stage 3 (I think we hit our highest speed of the event at 20+km/h. Not bad when your pulling a 30lb pulk)

5. Eating KFC an hour after finishing the event...After a 9-year break from the dirty bird, it was one of the most satisfying meals of the week!

4. Eating 4 bowls of caribou stew and 2 big plates spaghetti at Trout Rock Lodge on Day 5 - Best $25 I've ever spent!

3. Gaining 20seconds back on Mike with 5km to go on the final day. I gained the gap on the final portage of the event and one of the bumpiest sections of the entire course - Here I come Mr. Diamond, here I come...

2. ...Getting caught by Mike about a kilometre later and realizing that I won't be able to gap him again as the killer tailwind made it impossible break away...

1. Realizing that with 3km to go in a 225km race, I had just lost the diamond for good...

So that's it...Another one of the history books! There's some event chatter about potentially dropping the 6-day ski category next year as registration numbers haven't been very good in this category. Personally, I love the challenge of pulling all of your gear - but I fully agree that it's not for everyone and makes for a hard sell when you're looking at the purely business side of the category.

At the final awards party, I suggested that they take the 'pulk' component out of the 6-day skiing category, which would essentially make it into a pure 6-day stage race (organizers would transfer your equipment from stage to stage like the 3-day event currently offers). Most of the skiers on site quickly agreed that this would generate more interest from the nordic community as the R&I would now be the next step for skiers that like the Birkebeiner (w/ pack) race, or even the Arctic Circle Race (3-day stage race in Greenland).

Either way, whether your chasing the diamond or simply along for a true northern experience, I strongly encourage you to consider the Rock and Ice Ultra as a future event destination. You'll get more than just a bang for your buck - trust me!

Mike and I at the finish line (yes, we're still friends) - The cat/mouse game lasted the entire week and came down to the final kms of the event, making for a very interesting event for the media and friends to follow. Thanks to Barb for the photos!

Thanks to everyone who tuned in and cheered me on - I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone over the springtime!


Sara said...

Great list, Phil!

It was nice meeting you in Yellowknife and seeing your incredibly exciting race. Can't wait to follow you again next year!


BarbC said...

Nice pics! ;-)

I hadn't heard any of that post-race chatter - interesting! If the 6-day race had not included the pulk, both Richard and I would have signed up for it in 2009. I wasn't sure how much it would interfere with the skiing, but I definitely wanted the "feel" of a ski marathon, and I wasn't so interested in building a sled. Having seen the flat terrain, the pulk doesn't seem like such a terrible idea now, and we're both considering it. However, if the 6-day race were reinvented without the pulk, we would feel almost obligated to come back!

Hope your body is recovering well.

Derrick said...

Great list!

Sounds like R&I has certainly gotten under your skin too. Tough getting back to the working world after an event like that.

Hope to see you back next year.


Sunshine Girl said...

Just catching up Phil! I can NOT imagine a 6 day duel. I don't have enough testosterone for that. What an adventure and what a race!

Hart said...

great write up phil.. and i don't even ride those skinny skis!