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Racing Stories
What a race! The Swedish Vasaloppet
March 1, 2004 - By  Greg Worsnop

Here is my story and sticking to it.

I was over with John O'Connell from the Twin Cities (dubbed "logistics man" after doing the half race on Tuesday). We got up about 3:00 am with temps in the hills above Mora at 25 degrees. I had waxed colder HFBD7 with FC7 over the top and several layers of VR 40 with a final two layers of VR45. I put a layer of VR50 followed by VR45. 

We left for the start at 3:45 and were the only car on the road. We stopped for coffee about 20k from Salen and by the time we took off again it was field of dreams with a long line of cars behind us. We arrived in Salen shortly after 5:00 with the temp at 10 and with people everywhere. 

I hopped out of the car and headed to gate 1 to set down my skis. The gates opened a 6:00 so I waited in line for 40 minutes until the gate opened. I was about the 8th in and set my skis down in the "Front Row" behind the elite wave. Testing my skis in the gate I realized I had little or no kick, so a couple more layers of VR45 with a final layer of start Black Magic to at least give me kick up the first hill. I saw Chad Giese and spoke to him briefly before the start as he took a final leak in the gate close to my lane.

Then we were off. Up the hill I had good kick and was in 620th place at the first check point (11k). For the next flat section I DPed at sub 3 minute Ks and passed close to 100 skiers to come down to 524th at the next check point (24k). The next section drops into a valley and up the other side. My skis were scary fast on the downhills with me just hanging on for dear life, but on the next set of uphills my kick was marginal at best. So through the next 2 checkpoints I dropped over 100 places with one stop to re-wax with little improvement in kick. At Oxberg with 28k to go I was 695th. 

The rest of the course was flat enough to DP most of the hills so I cranked it up and started passing people at a great clip. Somewhere in the final 25k a guy took me down on a slight rise and I fell on my pole and snapped it. &*^$#*, but within 2 minutes a spectator gave me a pole and then a second so that they would be the same length. The temps continued to rise into the mid 30's I my skis were still faster than most around me, so DP and kick DP up the hills to the finish. Over the last 28k I improved 105 places to finished at 590th and 4:47. (100 places and 45 minutes faster than my there race in 2000)

The race was outstanding. The Swedes run a tight ship, with everything organized and efficient. Just after I crossed the line the woman who had loaned me the poles walked up and gave me my poles and took back the loaners (she was just a spectator on the course). Then it was on a bus to get my clothes and back to the Hotel Mora for a quick change and into the car for the trip back to Stockholm. John got back to Mora in time to watch the race (no commercials) on a big screen TV in the hotel restaurant and monitor my progress on the hotel computer through all the checkpoints.

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